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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thinkshop - the future of buying

Technology is changing as we speak, and so are all our experiences associated with it. Fiction is turning to design, to technology, to reality everyday. With better gadgets, better cars, better technology, the number of steps that lead us to buy something is getting smaller and smaller.
Shopping started from shops, graduated to malls and finally, post-graduated to online shopping. Current online shopping experiences like E-Bay give you everything that you could possibly need out of a store and often, more. You can browse through the entire catalog of products without leaving the comfort of your chair and even order it from there! One would like to believe that this is the pinnacle of shopping experiences that one can achieve. However, when I think about how shopping would be in the future, I see a very 'human' trend that would eventually be driving technology by the time we reach 2030; instinct.

Here's a glimpse of a 'possible' future.

Its the 11th of September, 2030. Your intelliclock, synced to your bio-cycle informs the body that it is 7 o'clock in the morning and time to wake up. The next three hours are spent doing the daily chores that SMARTHUMAN(SH) has programmed for you. You do not have office today. What will you do? Do you think? Not really. SH tells you that its time to THINKSHOP. You agree, realizing that there was something that you needed to buy but can't recall what. Oh well, Thinkshop would surely be able to help you out with that!

You slowly go and sink into the comfortable couch and pull on the helmet. As soon as the grooves on it fit to the side of your ears, a familiar voice greets you: "Welcome back to Thinkshop- shop it before you think it!" Your face breaks into a smile and you sink into the extremely soothing music that you find yourself enjoying. A quick status bar saying 'stand by...identifying preferences' flashes for a while and then disappears. Your room starts breaking up into little particles, disappearing, melting, as a bright white light floods your vision. "People in the past used to think this was how life after death looked like" you laugh to yourself, while everything around you disappears, completely immersing you in a white wash of brilliant light...

"Hey! Haven't seen you in a while!" Angeline croons, dressed in short black skirt and a spotless white shirt. She is your 'VHelp' or virtual sales help who takes you through your shopping experience. She is designed according to your chosen avatar, right down to the color of her hair, but more on that later. Right now she is jumpy with excitement, her eyes twinkling with what she has in store for you.

"What is it? Did you..." you begin, but she cuts you off, her patience having worn thin.

"You won't believe what I found for you...it's the FITSHIRT you have been wanting for so long! It's in the exact shade you have been looking for too; a midnight blue, with a hint of turquoise and a whiff of mauve so subtle that you won't know it if I didn't tell you!" You think about it while the shirt appears in front of you. You realize that you never told her about it but its the exact shirt that you would buy if you were buying one. No wonder they call it thinkshop!

You smile and the shirt disappears. It has been billed already, detecting your 'smile value' as a confirmation. Before you know, a complimenting pair of trousers, a pair of custom sneakers, a holiday in Greece and tickets to the finals of IPL 2030 have also been booked, where the double teams of MadhyaGuj Pegasus are playing HyderaKol Gryphons.

You would have to learn to smile less.

As you think about ending the session, Angeline throws her trump card. "Leaving already?" she sings, her voice making imaginary butterflies fly right out of your stomach and through your ears. "I will make you an offer you can't refuse, pumpkin..." Everything blanks out; your newly bought clothes, shoes and everything else fades into the background. Then a little puddle of black starts forming, bubbling, expanding, little wisps of smoke rising from it.

"Oh no!" you cry out.

"Oh yes, my sugarlove" Angeline whispers, her honey voice landing softly in your ears.

The pool has become several feet wide. A red bump appears in the middle and then grows bigger. It continues to grow. A shiny roof followed by crystal clear glass windows follow.

"Oh sweet virtual Jesus" you mumble.

 Standing in front of you is the Grand Elysium 3000, the car you have been eyeing for a while now. Its spectacular interiors and smooth body lines seem to be calling out to you. As your mind goes into a tizzy, the autostart activates and the car roars to life. It rolls slowly, a hunter stalking its prey, and slides to a stop in front of you, it's door opening invitingly.

"I can't buy this now. It's too expensive. I don't have this sort of money!" you speak, almost pleading to Angeline. She continues to smile.

"Yes you can. Your annual bonus just got credited. You haven't done too bad it seems" she says, her smile lighting up the highway of your heart. You smile back and the car disappears. You realize a moment later, but she is already swishing back into the whiteness with a "see you later honey". The familiar 'we loved having you here! You think...you shop!" dies down as your room comes back into focus. You take off the helmet, uttering a happy sigh of consumer satisfaction. Yet, you feel like you needed something that you didn't buy. What was it? What didn't Thinkshop tell you this time?

"Toothpaste!" you scream to yourself, as the birds outside your window continue to chirp and your aerofone lights up with 'Shopper journey terminated. Thank you for shopping at Thinkshop! Visit us soon!'

(written for 'the future of shopping' contest at Indiblogger. Learn more about it here: bit.ly/eBayCheck_Extention )

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