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Shopping Through the Lens of a Commoner

Anjali Garg

In the fast-paced world of today, it is becoming increasingly common for people, especially the millennials, to forego the standard Sunday mall visits or quick runs to the local store for trivial items like lip balm or socks; many people are much more interested in the idea of shopping online, as it saves them the trip to the store which, subsequently, saves them time and in most cases, money. Websites like Amazon, which sells in almost 17 countries (Enberg) and dominates the US e-commerce landscape, can offer a customer anything from toilet paper to a new bed frame to fresh groceries – AmazonFresh Grocery (Stanger), all from the comfort of their own home. A study conducted in 2019 showed that 60% of purchases made by millennials are actually made online, with the driving factors being able to read online reviews and easy price comparisons (Melton).

One major technological innovation that is forthcoming, and will stem from this desire to harness every bit of time and money, is virtual shopping. Virtual shopping extends the ability of shopping from the comfort of your own laptop, or mobile device; rather than viewing items in a catalog, virtual shopping allows for a more comprehensive customer experience by integrating virtual homes, runways, landscapes, etc. and letting users combine VR to fulfill their shopping needs (Bonasio). Famous home furnishing store, IKEA, allows you to, for example, remodel your kitchen interiors without ever moving from your couch (Morgan).

In terms of global society, virtual reality will allow businesses to break traditional boundaries. For some businesses, such as clothing or furniture stores, it might be better to have a virtual store rather than a physical store so customers could virtually try on the clothes or set up their virtual living room before making any purchase. Generally speaking, virtual shopping may decrease blue collar labor (i.e. in-store associates) but will increase white collar jobs (i.e. programmers); this will increase revenue in countries which will drive more trade of money and goods. Virtual shopping will also allow customers to experience a “store” in Beijing, Delhi or Dubai without ever having visited those cities. People will be less likely to buy items that aren’t necessary due to sheer existence of virtual reality. It will connect the world at your fingertips.

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