I bought a car that I’d never even sat in

In the last year we’ve continued to see changes in our shopping habits. However, based on the recent Black Friday sales and a range of recent surveys, we’ve seen thing change far more than ever..

Payment Methods

The traditional high-street has seen a huge amount of transformation of late. Whilst a lot of independent retailers still rely on cash transactions, we’re using cash less and less. Recently we saw news that, although cash was still important, it has been overtaken by debit cards and contactless payments. Contactless and card payments make up nearly 30% of all transactions (both in store and elsewhere), whilst cash now sits at 16%.

Mobile phone apps use

It is estimated that there are more than 3 billion smartphone users worldwide nowadays. Due to the hectic lifestyle, many people see their mobile phones or tablet as the first port of call when it comes to checking the news, staying in touch with friends, or taking photos. Even those who are looking for some entertainment can find many options for streaming services, games, and applications. But since there are hundreds of possibilities out there, people have been struggling to find the app they really need. For example, with so many online casinos on the rise, choosing the right mobile casino site can be somewhat overwhelming. Luckily there have been many online resources and app reviews sites offering the best advice for many apps out there. But we can definitely agree on on one thing, the addition of augmented reality and the plentiful bandwidth that our fast broadband, 4G and 5G services provide… has benefitted the mobile phone users and made the experience more “life-like”.

Online shopping

Have you recovered from the Black Friday and Cyber Monday craziness yet? Well, although you might feel exhausted, you’re not as exhausted as you would’ve been a few years ago.

Not too long ago, you’d see hordes of people fighting over knock-down prices on TVs and laptops. News broadcasts would show fights in some shops, with people fighting to get those limited deals.

Now? Now we just sit in our PJ’s and swipe through hundreds of deals on our phones. We’re buying more and more without actually seeing the items in the flesh. Indeed – it doesn’t seem all that long ago that people were visiting shops just to “window shop” before then making the actual purchase cheaper online. Now we’re not even doing that.

Part of the reason for buying online is the increase in the quality of online stores. My wife, as an example, showed me one of the clothes stores she shops at. Not only does it show a dress being worn by a model, but there’s multiple views, close-ups of the material and 30-second videos showing the flow and the movement of the dress on a model. It’s the bandwidth and the ease of access that has now given us the freedom to shop online without first having to visit the shop to have a look at the object in question.

As another example, take my car – I bought this completely online. I never spoke to the salesperson once. Everything was done on email and via videos sent to my phone from the dealer. When I asked questions about the alloys or the tread depth on the tyres, I’d receive a video in response showing these in HD. It was like being there, and – with a test drive arranged at a more local dealer – I felt confident enough to do the transaction. In the end, I said, “Yes” to a car I’d never touched, never sat in and never checked myself.

Years ago, a big purchase like that, done online, would’ve been unthinkable. However, when I travelled the 400+ miles to pick the car up, I asked the sales lady just how many of these “remote sales” she was doing. Although she couldn’t give me an exact percentage, she did say that there’d been a marked rise in transactions done via smartphones. People could cast their net wider, looking at a bigger range of cars all over the UK, and getting the absolute exact specification they want. This is good for both the dealerships and the buyers – and the dealers can sometimes deliver the car to you, meaning that you’re effectively buying a car in the same way that you’d buy a pack of batteries on Amazon.

The future

As with everything else, the more life-like and “real” we can make the interaction, the more willing people will be to buy a product or place a bet.

In 2020, we’re going to see more of this happening, and some stores, service-providers and suppliers are already taking advantage of AI, machine learning, location-based information and augmented reality to make that interaction – that purchasing process – more real, comfortable and assuring.