For all the light and joy that the Internet brings to our lives, it’s killing things too. We know we’re losing our ability to relate to others like human beings or to focus or to be productive. We’re at least as worried that someday the retail shrines where we can flock to gaze idly or prod at consumer products we kind of want while telling salespeople “no, thanks, I’m just looking” will finally meet their ends at the hands of our tendency to just order whatever we need from Amazon.
In this dim view of the future, nothing—from peanut butter to books to an assembly-required bed—will be more than a handful of pixels until it’s at your house. You’ll drown you in waves of bubble wrap and cardboard, waiting to find out exactly how much you don’t like it (just like that date from OKCupid). If only you’d really patronized that furniture store instead of just sitting in one of its easy chairs while waiting for your friend to text you back, your newly ordered furniture wouldn’t be a condemned, dark hole facing the street.
We fret about how “showrooming” is forcing physical retail stores out of business, but the practice of showrooming is nowhere ready to die. Several companies are stepping forward with solutions that circumvent the top-heavy model of centrally positioning a big box store in every major town and city. In stead, we’re seeing more flexible models for consumers. Both virtual and augmented reality are coming into play as ways to experience products without having to handle them. In some cases, this can be more convenient than our usual in-person sessions.
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