Covid fast-forwarded us into a touchless society. I love just tapping my credit card in stores or purchasing everything online.
We are the new age window shoppers. We sometimes scroll mindlessly on our phones passed various items. We have evolved into purely visual consumers. We take bite-sized chunks of data with each swipe and process them at breakneck speeds to check several boxes ranging from "Will this make me look fat?" to "Is it currently on trend with my current fashion circles?"
Our visual dependencies have diminished our understanding of materials and education through tactile experiences. Pixels process our purview into the physical world. Not all product material descriptions are created equal, especially regarding fabrics. Imagine trying to figure out if the hand feel of a 100% cotton t-shirt is dry or slick.
We purchase online items based on visual cues, customer reviews, and product descriptions. Through this, some of us become more educated as we go down the rabbit hole to learn more about a product, its processes, and its competitive advantage. All that goes out the door when you receive the item, and it just doesn't match what we thought it was. At least when I go to the grocery store, I can shake the bag of chips to know that I am buying a bad of salty air vs. finding out when I receive my shipment and open it up to see the big bag is just for vanity.
Also, gone are the times of having a more hands-on experience with the store staff and their guidance. As of this article, Walgreens is testing a new concept store with only two aisles of immediate items and a wall of touch screens where you can order your other things, and Walgreen staff bring your order out to you in real-time (they do the shopping for you in the on-sight stock room). This is a grand idea and a movement away from tactile experiences.
I have experienced the design world, from physical sample shopping to scrolling for online inspiration. The convenience of perusing the world, design inspiration, ordering lunch and groceries right after booking a flight, and bidding on the last Nike sneaker release from your phone, is fantastic!!!
And with the advent of artificial intelligence, we can allow our imagination to run wild and experiment with random outputs from curated prompts.
But the quality of an image doesn't dictate the quality of construction of the product we are looking to purchase. The resolution of your screen can not translate an object's material build and sturdiness.
It will be interesting to see how other retail experiences evolve with new ai data platforms, AR, VR, and XR hardware rollout. Various devices like the Meta Quest and Apple Vision Pro goggles will fully immerse us in augmented spaces.
But all I want for Christmas is a 3d printer that can print my dinner and a pair of jeans without cross-pollinating the two.
Words ✍️: Pel Peltier
Art 🎨: Pel Peltier + Midjourney
#walgreens #metaquest #applevisionPro #ecommerce #artificialintelligence #midjourney