The iPad is still a fairly new invention, but many are already acknowledging the ways in which the device could ultimately shape the retail landscape for today’s shoppers.
As AdAge discusses, only a handful of consumer brands currently offer iPad-specific applications–Gilt.com, Gap and eBay among them–but the thinking behind their design, features and functionality speak to the manner in which future retail experiences may be conducted. As brands like Puma plan to better integrate the iPad into the physical, in-store experience, many industry executives see the device acting as a virtual sales assistant, providing new information, data and reviews for the individual shopper, either at home or at a retail location.
Launched earlier this month, the “Gap 1969 Stream” app acts as a socially centric shopping partner, providing an opportunity for users to share items with friends, browse content from designers, musicians and fashion industry insiders associated with the brand or even use a geo-locator to find the retail store.
AdAge explains a few ways the iPad could change retail:
Catalogs: Online versions of print catalogs haven’t taken off, but iPad versions, with embedded video, as well as the ability to browse whenever it’s convenient and make purchases could be the next big thing.
Customization: Cars, furniture, shoes and apparel could all be customized in-store, with customers able to easily view and select colors, fabrics and finishes, and then place the special order.
Sales Floor Assistant: The iPad could provide easy access to product data, customer data and customer reviews, in addition to allowing transactions to be completed away from the register.