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A 2021 shopper’s path to purchase

Technology and social changes are transFuture Pathway to Purchaseforming how we shop. The future path to purchase won’t look like the traditional one—in fact, our path to purchase has already changed strikingly as retailing and consumer life have changed. But we’ve only begun to see what will unfold.

Retailers, CPGs, packaging developers and others up and down the consumer value chain need to grapple with the changes and be ready to do new things in new ways. Fundamentals of the retailing business: store sizes, formats, technology, locations, distribution channels, and so on, will have to be reconsidered in the coming decade.

What might the future path to purchase look like? Here is a scenario for 2021:

Claire is 32 years old, and lives in Boston. Work keeps her busy and mobile—she puts in about 60 hours a week at two jobs—and she spends a lot of time in her car for work, in Boston traffic. She likes to shop, but doesn’t have time to spend going to stores as much as she likes. So Claire relies on shopping virtually. Hers is an app-driven life, and shopping is no different.

This week, Claire bought a new sweater and blouse. Here’s how she did it.

First, Claire noticed on SocialShare that sixteen of her friends had “Liked” a new young designer’s collection. She looked at pictures of Marteen’s designs and a video of the designer talking about his work, but then thought no more about it as work distractions took hold. [“Likes” and buzz]

Later, when she was out with her friends, Becca’s blouse caught her eye—she asked about it—it was that same designer, Marteen. She really liked the blouse, and Becca let her take a quick photo with her mobile. “Don’t get this same color!” said Becca. [see and image]

That Sunday, she used the ShopNow! app to find the blouse—it recognized the brand and model from her smartphone picture. Right away it showed five stores in the Boston area that had the designs, but Claire realized she wouldn’t get out to shop that weekend or the next. But she kept thinking about the blouse. [app finds it]

So Claire decided to send “Digital Claire” shopping. Digital Claire has all her sizes and preferences, and what she had bought in the past two years. It checked the fit, and narrowed her choices from the collection. But the app found that the blouse Becca had really would not fit Claire. And to make things worse, it also showed her a gorgeous sweater that didn’t fit either. [avatar match]

Disappointed, she checked whether she could order a custom blouse in the same style. Using Digital Claire, she priced a custom-fit version, and previewed colors. She had her avatar try on the blouse and a sweater from Marteen’s collection, and showed Becca the 3D views. The blouse and sweater could be made to her specs and delivered the next day, Monday. The chance to have it immediately was exciting—she could wear it Tuesday. SOLD! [auto order custom version/produced per order/delivered]

NOTE: I offer keynote talks and workshops on the future consumer and the future of retail, contact me at jbmahaffie@leadingfuturists.biz for more information

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