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What shopping could look like in the future

No one thinks physical stores are going away permanently. But because of the frenetic pace of advances in technology and online shopping, the stores that remain likely will offer amenities and services that are more about experiences and less about selling a product.
By MAE ANDERSON, Associated Press Published: May 23, 2014
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One of America’s favorite pastimes is changing rapidly.

When it comes to shopping, more Americans are skipping the stores and pulling out their smartphones and tablets. Still, there’s more on the horizon for shopping than just pointing and clicking.

No one thinks physical stores are going away permanently. But because of the frenetic pace of advances in technology and online shopping, the stores that remain likely will offer amenities and services that are more about experiences and less about selling a product.

More services

Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru says stores of the future will connect online and offline shopping, with more drive-thru pickup and order-online, pick-up-in-store services. Checkout also will be self-service or with cashiers using computer tablets.

Some stores are taking self-service further: A store in Seattle called Hointer displays clothing not in piles or on racks but as one piece hanging at a time, like a gallery.

Shoppers just touch their smartphones to a coded tag on the item and then select a color and size. Store technology keeps track of the items, and by the time a shopper is ready to try them on, they’re already at the dressing room.

If the shopper doesn’t like an item, he tosses it down a chute, which removes the item from the shopper’s online cart. The shopper keeps the items he or she wants, which are purchased automatically when leaving the store.

On-demand coupons

Some stores like British retailer Tesco and drugstore Duane Reade now are testing beacons, Bluetooth-enabled devices that can communicate directly with your cellphone to offer discounts, direct you to a product or enable you to pay remotely.

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