7 innovations that could make this year’s Christmas shopping a whole lot more fun

The crowds, the rush, the panic buying things no one wants just to escape a claustrophobic shopping centre… for many people, Christmas shopping is less a time of joy and goodwill than a vision of hell. Luckily, some exciting new technologies are starting to make the experience far more pleasant.

1. iBeacons

These tiny BlueTooth devices send unique signals to people who download a shop’s mobile app and can be used to guide you to exactly the right outlet, product, deal and even the exact spot on the shelf where you can find the thing you want. Perfect for navigating the crush.

2. Tailored retailer payment apps

It’s not just the likes of Starbucks that are cutting down cues with payment apps. More and more retailers are introducing new apps that let customers make their orders (including any specific requests), pay for their purchase and then just saunter up to the desk to pick up their products.

3. Smart windows

Can’t face fighting through the throng to pick out an outfit for the Christmas party? Now you can stand outside and have a virtual stylist make recommendations for you. The New Zealand retailer AS Colour has introduced new technology that lets you stand in front of a window, enter a few pieces of information and have the virtual stylist analyse what you’re wearing, including the colour combinations and choices, and recommend outfits that might suit you in-store.

4. Interactive mirrors

Okay, so you don’t like the thing you’ve tried on. Sigh. But what’s this? The mirror using augmented reality to show you what you’d look like in a different must-have item? No really – some stores are doing this. Or maybe you love the product but have ethical concerns about its origin? Burberry will play a quick video showing you how it was made, and by whom.

5. Touchscreen kiosks

Don’t want to spend hours trawling the shop for that gift you promised the kids, only to find that it’s sold out? New kiosks let you quickly check how many are left. They also let you find the right product by entering information on your preferred features, for example buttons or zip, sizing and colour choices.

6. Robot assistants

You’ve queued for the changing room and now the thing doesn’t fit. Rather than making you go through the whole rigmarole again (or incurring the wrath of the extremely hassled-looking assistant!) Hointer Beta Store has a novel solution: tap on the in-store tablet or your own smartphone and a “personal assistant robot shopper” will zoom over with the right size within 30 seconds.

7. And finally: Apple Pay

Love it or hate it, using Apple Pay is fast and secure, with a fingerprint authentication feature that makes it safer than carrying around wads of cash or even physical, steal-able cards. In the Christmas Crush, every second saved is a godsend.



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