Why shopping will never be the same

By Jon Swartz, USA TODAY

SANTA CLARA, Calif.

Nola Donato has seen the future of retail, and it is in a Magic Mirror.

The Intel scientist has designed a high-tech mirror that shows how clothes look on a consumer who simply stands in front of an LCD monitor. Parametric technology simulates body type and how fabrics fit based on weight, height and measurements.

Think of it as a digital fitting room. The concept is three to five years from fruition but could open the door for Intel in the retail market.

The convergence of smartphone technology, social-media data and futuristic technology such as 3-D printers is changing the face of retail in a way that experts across the industry say will upend the bricks-and-mortar model in a matter of a few years.

“The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years,” says Cyriac Roeding, CEO of Shopkick, a location-based shopping app available at Macy’s, Target and other top retailers.

Within 10 years, retail as we know it will be unrecognizable, says Kevin Sterneckert, a Gartner analyst who follows retail technology. Big-box stores such as Office Depot, Old Navy and Best Buy will shrink to become test centers for online purchases. Retail stores will be there for a “touch and feel” experience only, with no actual sales. Stores won’t stock any merchandise; it’ll be shipped to you. This will help them stay competitive with online-only retailers, Sterneckert says.

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