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Commerce in 2040 and Its Key Features

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Technology emerged as one of the key drivers in the last decade reshaping the world and will continue as one of the most important factors creating future upheavals. Fast forward 20 years and the world, and commerce conducted within it will be noticeably different than today.

This article outlines a vision for how consumers might live, work, shop and play in 2040, exploring how technology could change different consumer worlds over the next 20 years.

Retail Store

Evolving consumer expectations and new competitive realities are changing how and where consumers browse and buy. Purchases in the past were transactional. Now, shopping is a journey about relationship building. The journey is no longer about just the end-point or purchase.

The ideal journey provides value before, during and after the purchase, converting a transaction into a relationship. Physical outlets remain a critical part of today’s shopping journey, both in terms of brand engagement or purchase execution and continue to play a role in 2040; though, their functions will evolve.

Stores will exist to sell impulse purchases and irregularly purchased convenience goods. Technology like wearables and voice will guide consumers throughout the store. Products will automatically be added to a virtual shopping cart upon selection, while robots will be leveraged for customer service and inventory management.

Technological advances are increasingly detaching the purchase decision from a physical outlet. Smart retailers will leverage technology to remove the hassles of shopping for mundane purchases while tapping into the innate curiosity to see, feel and experience specific products.

Entertainment Venue

Undoubtedly technology plays a starring role in shaping the entertainment venues of 2040 and in turn what new commerce opportunities will unfold within this future world. As a result of widespread connectivity and social media, sports and music fans can get closer to the action without ever stepping foot into a venue.

Consumer values are shifting towards experiences, a trend standing to benefit those in the entertainment industry. The challenge will be delivering a differentiated experience keeping fans engaged and coming back to the venue event after event.

Platforms facilitating interactivity and the sharing of user-generated content globally created the “second screen” or “second screen experience,” allowing fans to partake in the experience unfolding in the venue from anywhere. Social media helps elevate a fan to more than just a face in the crowd.

Just like traditional commerce, entertainment brands no longer have sole control over the information about their offerings. Fans are better informed when entering an interaction and leverage social media to vocalise their experience.

Home Landscape

Ubiquitous connectivity gives way to the intelligent interaction of humans and things. The home will be one consumer-facing environment most impacted by IoT.

The smart home momentum picked up due to widespread connectivity, manufacturers pushing to sell connected durables and more compelling consumer use cases. By 2040, connected appliances will be mainstream, especially in developed markets. 

Household robot assistants will play a prominent role in the home. These robots assist with everyday household chores, such as picking up items off the floor and putting them in the proper storage or preparing vegetables for cooking.

The home of the future will be even more personalised than it is today. The home will identify each occupant upon entry into the home itself, as well as each room.

Technology will help educate and empower consumers to take control, as well as provide personalised digital solutions for health tracking. Connected mirrors will assist each member with their outfit choice for the day ahead, offering suggestions to complete the desired look.

Download our white paper, Commerce 2040: Revolutionary Tech Will Boost Consumer Engagement, to learn more about how technology could change different consumer worlds over the next 20 years.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated.

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