The Brave New World of Wireless Shopping

The Brave New World of Wireless Shopping

With the advent of technologies like AR and VR, the consumer shopping experience around the world is on the cusp of a revolution.

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The Brave New World of Wireless Shopping

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In 2025, four months pregnant Aparajita is feeling peckish and stops by at a Mumbai convenience store for a mid-morning snack. She picks up a biscuit pack and taps it on her fitness band to check the ingredients and makes sure she is getting the right nutrients and that it is safe for her baby. Yuka, a France-based mobile app is already evaluating the quality of your purchases. It offers an independent evaluation of the food you buy based on three criteria of nutritional quality, presence of risk additives and biological dimension of the product.

Back home that evening, she accidentally drops her medicine bottle. She asks her artificial intelligence (AI)-powered ‘smart speaker’ to have the medicines delivered immediately. Before she is halfway done with an episode of her favourite show on Netflix, a drone delivers the medicines to her house.

Well, this is just a peek into what already is happening. Fact is, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will completely transform the shopping experience, replacing today’s pain points with captivating, interactive experiences that inform, entertain and save time and money. Moreover, yes, challenges of security, privacy and confidentiality will need to be addressed—not just by laws but also by a new contract between corporates and consumers. By having specific, transparent, and positive-consent based sharing of personal information with providers who have limited and contractual access to individual data, the drudgery of shopping will be replaced with high-experience, time-efficient visits to retail outlets.

Again, not all of this is in the future. Globally, smart speakers are a $4.3 billion market, expected to grow at 23% compound annual growth rate, as per data from Allied Market Research. In India, during the second quarter (July-September) of fiscal year 2019, IDC reported that shipments of smart speakers saw a 43% quarter on quarter growth. Same day delivery is, of course, mainstream; according to a Dropoff survey, in 2017, 17% of US consumers used same-day delivery, while 31% used it in 2018.

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Nikhil Prasad Ojha is a partner in Bain & Co., and leads its Strategy practice in India. Shyam Unnikrishnan is a partner in Bain & Co., and is a leader in its Consumer Products and Retail practices.


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