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Technology already contributes to improved operational efficiency for retailers. But it could revolutionize the retail experience by 2015 with innovations including holographic sales assistance, interactive dressing rooms, biometric fingerprint payments and intelligent shopping carts.

That’s the prediction of a TNS Retail Forward Inc survey that looked at future innovations in shopping. TNS’s New Future In Store survey asked 4,600 shoppers in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States share their views on shopping and rate the appeal of 12 innovations that have the potential to revolutionize the shopping experience.

Consumers expect a retail revolution.

TNS senior vice president Mary Brett Whitfield says retailing is “in a time of transition” and likely to change dramatically in the next few years. “In our increasingly hurried culture, shopping innovations which free up time are likely to rank highly,” she says. “But despite the desire to save money and time, most shoppers aren’t going to be prepared to swap good traditional service for technology as evidenced by the small share of shoppers ranking holographic sales assistants as their favorite innovation.”

The challenge for retailers will be merging state-of-the-art technology with high-touch service. Some of the technologies shoppers expect to be in widespread use in the future-shopping via social networking Web sites and collaborative product development-are already in use by some retailers today. However, TNS researchers says those technologies will evolve considerably. As a result, “retail businesses will have to innovate continuously as an increasingly digital environment gives shoppers dramatic new choices. Consumer product manufacturers will need to respond to these trends and embrace new assumptions.”

Technology will be pervasive, driven by falling costs, widespread access and adoption, a working infrastructure and increased standardization. In addition, just-in-time supply chain and the technology to support it “will no longer be the gold standard.” Rather, extremely reduced cycle times will require retailers to accelerate trend identification, entry and exit.

By 2015, more than seven in 10 shoppers worldwide expect to be using interactive touch screens in dressing rooms to communicate with sales assistants, 60% expect to be able to pay for purchases with just their fingerprint and 42% predict holographic sales assistants will be widespread. The survey, however, found perspectives differed by geography.

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