A major new report commissioned by online marketplace eBay has concluded that new shopping technologies will drive GB£ 2.4bn (US$ 3.8bn) of new sales by 2014, with interactive TV expected to have the most influence.
The report, conducted by retail experts Conlumino, predicts that by the end of 2014, one in four UK consumers will regularly use interactive TV services to buy goods and services, generating nearly GB£ 750mn of direct sales.
The other technologies which are expected to rise in influence are: augmented reality, enabling shoppers to overlay digital information onto real products, spaces and places; in-store technologies, such as iPads replacing tills, and electronic shelf labelling; image recognition, allowing devices to identify consumers or objects based on their attributes; and smart devices, which will see everyday appliances become more intelligent, such as fridges recommending what food to order.
Angus McCarey, UK Retail Director for eBay commented: “We are entering a period of transformation in the retail sector. Consumers are driving this as they demand more choice, more interactivity, specialist knowledge and price transparency.
“’Third wave technologies are about meeting those demands and presenting information back to consumers in ways that haven’t been possible before: using virtual reality to try clothes on, or watching your favourite show on TV and buying the box set at the same time.
Retail analyst Neil Saunders of Conlumino added: “Channel convergence was born out of the rise of mobile a couple of years ago and is set to accelerate at an unprecedented rate. Just as major players adopted mobile, they must invest in these new technologies now if they are not to limit growth in the coming years.
“The investment required is modest whilst creating genuine growth for retailers. Beyond direct sales, introducing these new technologies could influence sales worth GB£ 9.1bn by the end of 2014, compared to the GB£ 300mn we calculate they contributed to the sector last year.
Meanwhile, Simon Woodward, CEO of UK-based digital TV specialist ANT, cautioned that the impact of interactive TV on online shopping sales will be dependent on whether consumers become more comfortable with the concept of connected TVs in their living rooms.
“For retailers to cash in on the GB£ 750mn worth of potential direct sales, they need to avoid getting caught-up in a chicken and egg situation. Consumers won’t rush to shop through their television; they need to be show how it works and the benefit of shopping via that medium […] New technology adoption doesn’t just happen, technology is embraced when people are educated and excited by it.”