New Shopping Technologies Promote Instant Gratification in Retail

Though Veruca Salt was vilified in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for her refrain“I want it now!”, it seems she was just ahead of her time. These days, instant gratification has become a hallmark of an ultra-connected, faced-paced world. Shoppers now have a multitude of ways to buy products on the spot, from almost any location or device. We highlighted one such technology – Kate Spade Saturday’s “shoppable windows,” offering free 1-hour delivery in New York City – here in October. Online retailers such as Ebay and Amazon now offer same-day service in select cities, and a number of new shopping technologies have developed ways to integrate the shopping experience into the consumer’s lifestyle.

One remarkable example of a new instant-gratification shopping technology is a partnership between MasterCard and magazine publisher Conde Nast called ShopThis, which debuted in the November tablet edition of Wired magazine. The technology allows digital readers to click on items described in an article or highlighted in an advertisement, add them to a single shopping cart and checkout instantly, all without ever leaving their reading.

Another new instant-gratification shopping technology is the mobile app developed by Peapod, the online grocer. A customer who finishes a box of cereal can now scan a barcode on the box before tossing it and instantly add it to his online shopping list. And if his busy schedule can’t accommodate a 2-hour delivery window at home, he can use Peapod’s new grocery pickup system, which allows him to drive up to the grocery store in his neighborhood at the appointed time and meet an employee ready to load the groceries into his car.

Other up-and-coming shopping technologies include Paydiant, a company that develops mobile payment platforms for the retail industry, which has developed a technology that allows consumers to scan a QR, or quick response, code directly from a television screen to purchase an item seen on a television show or in a commercial.

Finally, online retail giant Amazon is planning two new delivery technologies that will make Amazon Prime (which allows consumers to purchase a $79 annual fee and receive free two-day delivery on all orders) look like the Pony Express. In November, Amazon released plans for its Prime Air delivery system, which would deliver online purchases to shoppers in 30 minutes or less via drone. Just one month later, Amazon took the concept of instant gratification one step further and obtained a patent for so-called “anticipatory shipping,” a method to start delivering packages even before customers order them. Using previous order data and other geographical factors, Amazon will attempt to know what consumers want before the consumers even know what they want, and have packages waiting at nearby shipping hubs or even on delivery trucks. Creepy, perhaps, but these are intriguing prospects, and perhaps an unsurprising extension of the push for instant gratification in retail. Veruca Salt would approve.

Related topics: Retail, Retail Sales, Technology