Robin Knox: How we could shop in the future

Robin Knox says he's inspired by what's happening on Scottish high streets.
Robin Knox says he's inspired by what's happening on Scottish high streets.
Share this article
Have your say

As a techie, I am inspired by what’s happening on our high streets.

Contactless payments, ApplePay and iPad electronic point of sale are all reducing queue times while loyalty schemes mean the right suggestions for what to buy are pinged straight to my phone as I literally pass my favourite shops. What man (or woman) couldn’t appreciate that kind of easy shopping?

But that is just the start. There are an increasing number of innovative and even sometimes bizarre methods employed by businesses to get customers engaged with their products or services. And they could be coming to a mall near you any time soon.

Did you know, for instance that interactive clothing mirrors exist? Now thanks to a new wave of digital ‘try before you buy’ software the constant trying on of clothes and procession of matching items together could be a thing of the past. These interactive clothing mirrors can allow you to digitally try on clothing by making an avatar of your mirror-self.

This can then be used to show how clothes will fit and try on different full outfits and colours at the swipe of a hand. Some variants like MemoryMirror can even post the results to social media for you.

Unfortunately at present, these digital mirrors don’t offer a ‘compliment feature’ and won’t tell you that you look good in everything. However with a variety of Apple and Android apps in development, this new way to clothes shop could fit a lot of people just right.

If, on the other hand, grocery shopping is the bane of your life, some supermarkets have begun to install large digital screens on the walls of train stations, set up to resemble an isle in a regular store.

You simply find the item you want, scan it with your phone via a QR code and it will automatically setup a shopping basket on your mobile via their online store. Then you simply enter a few details and place your online order. With that, your order is confirmed and you can arrange for the delivery to meet you at home that evening.

Then again, at the end of the day, maybe your first thought is for a bit of relaxation at the local hostelry. In the south of England self-service bars have begun to appear. These bars work by providing bar taps at your table that accept digital payments and allow you to pour your own pint. An automatic cut off means that staff can still check customers aren’t too drunk before reactivating. If you want to check it out, try Thirsty Bear in London. 

Meanwhile, waiter-less restaurants have broken into Europe via the Asian market. These restaurants have seen great success in Japan, Thailand and China with customers catered for by anything from food delivering overhead tracks and conveyer belts to robot servers.

All orders are recorded digitally via an iPad EPOS or custom built in-table system and food is often delivered to the table without a human in sight. In fact some of these eateries have been so well automated that you might not see an employee the whole time you are there.

One plus will certainly be the ability to eat your meal without a waiter asking how you’re enjoying it – mid-mouthful. On the other hand however, you may miss the personal touch of having an actual human being welcome you.

Despite this, these restaurants have proved popular and the Rollercoaster Restaurant in Nurnberg, Germany has been so successful that they now have waiter-less restaurants in several other German cities as well as in Abu Dhabi, Vienna and Sochi.

In each case above the most important element should still be making the purchase as quick and easy as possible for the customer. That’s what we do at intelligentpos® but we take inspiration from a retailing world that is embracing detailing technology at every opportunity.

Robin Knox is founder and CEO of Intelligent Point of Sale Limited