People love to shop. For a long time, the only way to shop was to go out and pay for your purchase in-person at a store or market.
Today, the time between desire and a product being delivered to our door is remarkably small. And companies like Amazon are looking to make that process even shorter with drones to shorten that delivery time to minutes.
But online shopping isn't the only online market facing disruption. The way you pay for things is also transforming. Apple and Google have both made payments a central part of their respective mobile platforms. Now, with Apple Pay on the Apple Watch, shopping is as easy as a wave of your wrist.
Startups are also looking to this space and bringing innovations of their own. Here are some of the startups that are going to change the way you shop:
Camfind--Unleashing the power of visual search
Almost everyone has experienced this--you're out enjoying your day and you see something that just need to buy. It might be the latest tech gadget, an amazing pair of shoes, or maybe just a quirky nicknack that will look great decorating your house. You can always ask what the item is, or simply try and buy it right there and then. But what if there was a Google for the real world that let you search for an item just by taking a photo with your phone?
That's the promise of visual search, and it is one of the holy grails of tech development. It's a simple idea. Just grab your phone, snap a picture of whatever item you want to identify, and instantly see the results.
Enter Camfind, which has built a powerful visual search engine that provides results 100 percent of the time. It already has more than 1,500 developers using its API, CloudSight, to add visual search to their apps, including five of the top 10 North American retailers.
The company says that its API will save potential partners, especially retailers, the time and resources needed to develop a similar technology. Beyond that, Camfind already has 11 pending patents on its tech.
Cimagine--Augmented reality to make shopping easier
One of the most challenging aspects of online shopping is imagining what the item will look like in-person--especially for physical items such as clothes or furniture. What if you could simply hold up your phone, tablet, or (in the future) smart glasses and see what the item would look like in your living room?
That is precisely the technology that Cimagine has developed. The company recently teamed up with U.K. online retailer Shop Direct and rolled out what it said was the largest proof-of-concept AR deployment ever.
Of course, AR technology has been promised for quite some time. But Cimagine is different since it doesn't need any markers or codes to work. It can simply use the camera on your device to scan a room and create a realistic AR experience.
This means it is a much more flexible solution and is easier to implement for Cimagine's partners. It also allows a more seamless experience for consumers--they just need a phone or a tablet with a camera and they can imagine the item in their own home.
Sling--A mobile payment solution for the smallest businesses
Analysts have been predicting that mobile payments are going to revolutionize the way you pay for things for a while now. But many of these solutions are intended for companies that have already implemented credit card payments.
Sling is trying to bring mobile credit card payments to micromerchants--businesses so small they might not even have a store or office--with a solution that they hope will mimic the frictionlessness of cash. The idea is to combine the power of a mobile app with the tangible element of cash.
Sling gives merchants a simple bracelet with a code that connects directly to their account. Additionally, merchants can also receive stickers that they can place on their wares.
For end users, they only have to share their credit details with Sling via its mobile app, and not with an unknown merchant. When they want to pay for something, they just open up the Sling app, scan the code on the bracelet or sticker, and make their payment.
The company hopes this will translate into a seamless process for both sides. It gives a trustworthy solutions to buyers, and it means that micromerchants won't need the resources of a larger business to purchase equipment. The company is still in testing and hasn't implemented a wide roll-out of its technology yet.
Shopping and commerce are an ever-changing landscape. Smaller startups like these will have a significant role to play serving niche markets and taking risks to bring new technologies to the mainstream. Companies that don't take advantage of emerging technologies risk being left behind.
What technologies do you believe will shake up the shopping experience? Let me know in the comments.