The Future is Here

Remember our story from a few months past when we talked about how modern technology might change the way retail businesses operate? When writing the story, we were trying to imagine what would happen 10 or 15 years down the road, but some of the gimmicks we discussed are starting to emerge right now. For instance, Kohl's has rolled out prototype kiosks at some of its stores that help Kohl's customers shop its online and brick-and-mortar channels simultaneously. If a customer goes to a Kohl's store and can't find what she needs, she can head to the kiosk and browse Kohl's Web site. If she makes a purchase, the shipping is free.

But I am even more impressed by a service currently being tested by Wal-Mart. The retailer is running a virtual make-up mirror trial at 10 of its stores, according to our sister publication Supermarket News. The "mirror" takes a photo of the shopper, who can then swipe cosmetics' barcodes through the system, and the make-up shows up in the photo. Any woman knows that to buy make-up without trying it on first is a potential waste of money, but the test samples available at the higher end stores can be less than hygenic after being used by hundreds of shoppers. So points to Walmart for being on the cutting edge.

Has anyone seen any other cool technologies out there that are already being applied? If you have, let us know.

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