Shopping in 2030: How AI and the Internet of Things Will Redefine the Customer Experience

, by Deborah Raccagni - Lecturer di digital marketing
An imaginary purchase of sunglasses is the opportunity to reflect on how technology is rapidly changing the experience of consumers

It's 2030 and Becky wants to buy new sunglasses. "Hi Alexa, I'd like new sunglasses. Which ones do you recommend?". Today in Italy, 30.6% of internet users already use a virtual assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant every week (meltwater2024). Alexa, analyzing her owner's preferences, style and budget, suggests different options worn by top influencers and shows them to her on her smart TV. Becky puts on her smart glasses (the growth of these devices is expected to go from $5.66 million in 2022 to $12.40 million by 2030) and navigates through virtual showcases projected on the walls in her room. An AI-based chatbot provides her with information on various models' features, prices and customer reviews. Juniper Research points to an increase in the global spending for chatbots, from $12 million (2023) to $72 million (2028), so that by 2026, it's estimated that more than 150 million voice assistants will be in use the US. Choosing is difficult, because Becky is unsure about the comfort of the models proposed and goes to a physical store to try on some of the sunglasses.

Once she crosses the store's threshold, she is greeted by a personalized atmosphere with scents and music of her favorite genre. A sales employee, thanks to facial recognition, identifies her and offers her a tablet with a selection of sunglasses based on her preferences, analyzed using the data collected by Alexa in the morning and sent to the store in real time. The global facial recognition market will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 14.6% between 2023 and 2032, to reach $19.3 million. Becky approaches a smart mirror. By framing her face, the mirror shows her in real time how different models look on her (Virtual Try On). She can change color and style with a simple wave of the hand or with a voice command. (The global virtual fitting room market was $3.78 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.1% from 2023 to 2030).
Finally, Becky finds the model that wears great and decides to add her own personal touch.

In a dedicated area of the store, she can engrave her own initials on the arms of the glasses, or add a pendant or an image. A 3D printing service even allows you to create customized frames. 66% of US consumers say they are more inclined to purchase from a brand that offers personalized recommendations (Gartner). Becky, enthusiastic about the resulting product, decides to purchase it. Payment takes place securely and transparently via blockchain; she can choose to pay by cryptocurrency or traditional currency, using her smartphone or a wearable device. Thanks to the blockchain, Becky has the peace of mind of knowing about the ethical sourcing of products, the history of each item, from production to distribution, guaranteeing it comes from trusted sources. The global blockchain market is expected to reach $163 million by 2029, with a CAGR of 68.4% in the 2022-2029 period (LinkedIn).

She chooses same-day home delivery, taking advantage of the unified channel-endless aisle approach. The package arrives in a recyclable container, demonstrating the brand's commitment to sustainability. Becky is satisfied with her purchase. Her satisfaction is not limited to the product itself; she knows she can also benefit from after-sales assistance via an intelligent chatbot or a video call with an expert. You can choose to sign up for an extended warranty or protection plan online with a simple click from the app or e-commerce site. By 2030, e-commerce in Italy will treble, reaching €157 million (ICE-Amazon). Becky's purchasing process is just one example of how technology will transform the shopping experience. Consumers will become active protagonists, immersed in a fluid, personalized and interactive journey that will lead them to an informed and satisfying purchase of the desired product. A journey transformed by the magic of data, AI, VR/AR, blockchain and IoT.