A senior citizen discovers the shopper’s new companion in the retail world — the mobile.

AD: Guess what, there’s a new mall coming up in the neighbourhood!

BC: Really? Wonder if it’ll see crowds — you don’t need to go to a mall to shop these days.

AD: You are referring to online shopping.

BC: Isn’t that the rage now?

AD: Well, 2013 is set to experience new technologies in retail. For starters, your mobile could be the key to your shopping. You could use it to scan a product and get all the details you need, like discounts and ingredients... You could even use it to scan the barcode, purchase the product, pay for it with your mobile, and get a receipt for the transaction.

BC: Sounds incredible.

AD: Absolutely! There will also be several apps and technologies like Near Field Communication (NFC) and Quick Response (QR) Codes that will help the retailers in their mission.

BC: I really can’t imagine holding my mobile in front of a product and…

AD: That’s technology for you — the mobile can make shopping a lot more interesting. For instance, you could enter key information about what you are looking for and the store could send focussed responses and updates on deals, discounts and relevant product information, even as you shop.

BC: But I forget to carry my mobile quite often.

AD: You are perhaps among the minority... There was a time when the tagline ‘Don't leave home without it’ applied to a brand of credit cards. Today, it applies as much to your smartphone, which you can use to make your payments…

BC: ...so you can actually leave home without your credit card.

AD: Right! E-commerce is almost two decades old. Mobile commerce is what everyone's talking about. Stores are even offering apps that will keep updating the price of a product you are interested in through alerts on your smartphone. So when there’s a huge price-off, you immediately get to hear about it instead of checking the website or visiting the store time and again.

BC: For once, I’m glad I don’t carry a smartphone regularly. If people are going to be bombarded with deals, there’s no getting away from them.

AD: A London-based store has the answer to that as well. They’ve come up with the concept of a Silence Room, where customers can take a break from the non-stop marketing buzz. Shoppers can rest there, meditate and basically get away from the shopping frenzy.

BC: Amazing, isn't it, how retailers create a problem and then come up with a solution themselves?

AD: Well, some of us think that shopping is therapeutic... So you really can't blame the industry for.

BC: But the bottom line is that thanks to technology, brick and mortar stores will never shut down.

AD: Look, it’s always the trend to expect the old to make way for the new. In this case, technology is supporting both the conventional and the contemporary.

BC: So smartphones can help you shop from home or wherever you are — and they can help you shop even when you physically go to the store.

AD: That’s right! In other words, the mobile is going to be your friend, philosopher and guide in the retail arena.

BC: If it were a friend, it would have stopped me from going there and blowing up my money in the first place. If it were a philosopher, it would have told me about the futility of material pursuit. But you're right in calling it a guide — it would systematically guide me towards bankruptcy.

sureshl.india@gmail.com

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