Stores explore technology to transform in-person shopping

Tomorrow’s retail stores want to take a page from their online rivals by embracing advanced technology – everything from helpful robots to interactive mirrors to shelves embedded with sensors.

Amazon’s new experimental grocery store in Seattle, to open early this year, will let shoppers buy goods without needing to stop at a checkout line. Sensors track items as shoppers put them into baskets or return them to the shelf. The shopper’s Amazon account gets charged automatically .

“Amazon, for good or bad, has been setting the path,” said Robert Hetu, research director at Gartner Research. “Each retailer is going to have to respond in some way. But it’s not one-size-fits-all.”
technology to transform in-person shopping
Amazon’s new experimental grocery store in Seattle, to open early this year, will let shoppers buy goods without needing to stop at a checkout line. Sensors track items as shoppers put them into baskets or return them to the shelf. The shopper’s Amazon account gets charged automatically .

“Amazon, for good or bad, has been setting the path,” said Robert Hetu, research director at Gartner Research. “Each retailer is going to have to respond in some way. But it’s not one-size-fits-all.”

Kroger, Neiman Marcus and Lowe’s are among the companies already experimenting with futuristic retail stores.

Robots, for instance, could help guide shoppers to the right aisle, while augmented reality apps could help you see how a particular shade of paint will look in the living room – or how you might look in a pair of jeans. Many of these technologies will be unveiled or demonstrated at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, which began Tuesday with media previews.

Plenty of retailers have learned through trial – and error – that technology can’t get too far ahead of shoppers. It has to be easy to use and beneficial to shoppers in some way, whether to save time or money. If retailers get it right, they might succeed in boosting spending at retail stores at a time when consumers increasingly prefer to shop online.

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