The Convergence of Physical and Digital Commerce: Past, Present, and Future

Today we’re excited to announce a brand new blog series that takes a look at how the marketplace is transforming as the digital and physical worlds converge. The series will start in past with the evolution of point-of-sale technology, and major transitions such as the creation of the barcode and the advent of the internet. We will then move to the present, where mobile devices serve as an entry point into the virtual extension of the marketplace. And finally we will share our predictions for the future, when mobile payment evolves and is adopted, content is delivered from merchant to shopper based on geolocation, and mind bending technologies in the image recognition and augmented reality space become usable. Here’s a sneak peek:

 

The Past

It’s been 60 years since Woodland and Silver patented the first barcode symbology in 1952, introducing a concept that would lead to the disruption of the world’s shopping paradigm through enabling seamless interaction with products and the creation of modern point-of-sale solutions. Some thirty years later, the Internet gave birth to the online marketplace, and so began the age of digital transactions. In our next post, we’ll look at relevant innovations in the past and shed light on how the past evolution of the marketplace can serve us in understanding where we might be headed next.

 

The Present

We currently live in a world where mobile devices serve as “extended packaging” for every product in the marketplace. People are no longer limited to information they can access on a package since a wealth of merchant and user created content is at their fingertips. Users now use the web or mobile apps to aid their purchasing decisions, and can make purchases directly from their mobile devices. Advances in software have enabled every mobile device to become a barcode scanner, a deal finder or a discovery tool. The possibilities are only limited to our own creativity and willingness to adapt.

 

The Future

Though ever elusive, there are indications we can find in the past and present that aid us in predicting where we might be headed next. One major trend to look at is mobile payment, where digital wallets, NFC and P2P services are battling for the win. Another interesting trend we’ll examine is personalized and contextual content delivery. Sounds sexy doesn’t it? Well it’s clear that merchants are beginning to target potential customers based on their location, and if brick-and-mortar retailers are to survive they will have to adapt and embrace the idea of delivering relevant digital content to people nearby.  Beyond these evident trends we’ll look at some of the more questionable technologies such as augmented reality and image recognition. Will we live to see the potential of this technology actualized? Stay tuned for our thoughts.

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