QVC predicts a virtual and augmented reality for retail in 25 years’ time


To celebrate its 25th Anniversary, QVC UK has commissioned a report into the future of retail, revealing the way consumers will be shopping in 25 years’ time. Teaming up with strategic foresight consultancy, The Future Laboratory, QVC UK reveals how shopping for everyday items will become almost subconscious through the use of AI-connected devices and how shoppers will be able to feel, smell and see products while virtually meeting up with friends and chatting with influencers.

By 2043 QVC UK predicts the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and robotics will mean that not being home for deliveries is no longer a barrier to purchase. This level of service will become common place, with customers being able to order a jacket seen on the street and find it in their wardrobe the following day, ready to be worn. Brands will go to the consumers. Beauty brands will deliver products such as UV moisturisers around urban centres for workers to browse or try during their lunch break on particularly hot days. This will completely change the perception that shops are static and will turn vehicles into moving living rooms where shoppers will consume video content and be able to purchase items of interest through voice command or hand gesture.

If this seems too advanced to happen within 25 years, take a look back at the shopping habits from 25 years ago, the change is just as extreme. In 1994, 0.5% of the UK population had access to the internet and so all shopping took place in-store. Nowadays, 51% of UK consumers prefer to shop online. As a digital-first e-tailer, QVC UK has seen a huge increase in online sales with 151 million online product views in 2017. Where once the high street may have ruled, the last 25 years has seen digital-only e-tailers take its place.

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence is already becoming a large part of our everyday shopping experience with 1 in 3 people already planning to buy an AI device. By the 2040’s, retailers will use Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies to create hyper-experiential, virtual showrooms, complete with holographic products and people. Shoppers will be able to touch and interact virtually with products from the comfort of their own homes.

Haptic technology, which simulates the sense of touch through vibrations, motions and forces, is poised for compound annual growth of around 17.6% over the next decade. There are already technologies in the making that use vibrations and friction between fingertips and screen to create dynamic, realistic textures on screens.

Looking ahead is what QVC UK has been doing from the very beginning – hailed the original YouTube, QVC UK has been leading the way for customers to have a more personal experience with brands and influencers since its launch in 1993. The online e-tailer is already a service led and community focused brand and providing a more human experience for shoppers. Rob Muller explains: “Retail brands need to incorporate people, humanity and emotion into the digital shopping experience. This is certainly a focus for us at QVC UK.”