Really? Teleportation? Well… Not really, but almost.
Thanks to the work of a few scientists, global shoppers can now (practically) teleport directly into participating shops anywhere on the globe. Tiffany’s in London? Poof! You’re there. Rebecca Minkoff in NYC. Done. Or the super cool Toms store on Abbot Kinney Blvd in West Hollywood? Yes.
Streaming video now provides a direct live connection to passionate brand champions. In China, you can travel virtually to a retailer and watch a brand advocate put on a certain shade of lipstick or try on a blue blouse with a particular black skirt. Imagine hundreds of these channels popping up on retailer sites, like so many customized cable channels.
Thanks to this streaming technology, Chinese consumers can make appointments to personally shop in stores around the world, even when the shopper is physically across the globe. It might mean that the shopper is staying up late, but a personal guide in the physical store in London or New York will grant a video tour with rich product data available at their fingertips. Questions about the authenticity of product (a big concern among Chinese fashion shoppers) disappears. The cost of delivery and payments is minuscule compared to the cost of a plane ticket, hotel, and all of the other expenses of traveling. This makes retail ‘teleportation’ a fast-growing fad.
Why not shop on the web?
The short answer is – nobody wants to worry about poor selection, exaggerated price, and product authenticity.
What about going into a store in Shanghai, Shenzhen or Beijing?
There are many emerging markets within China – not just these tier-one cities. Even in these big cities, unreasonable rents still require that retail goods are priced remarkably high.
The Middle East is ripe for re-imagining retail, as well. Hot target markets for physical world retailers are Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE, but as with China, product selection, price, and convenience are an issue.
“Consumers throughout the Middle East are eager to purchase goods from abroad,” says Hassan Mikail, Chief e-Commerce Officer at Aramex, the leading provider of Shopandship.com in the Middle East. “The problem is that it is challenging to get products in the country in a timely, efficient way and pay for products in a way that makes sense. The in-store availability and selection are at the mercy of international franchise agreements and stores have not optimized their e-Commerce solution to support the region.”
The Shopandship.com solution is similar to other package forwarding services like vPost, a service by Singpost for Singapore, but it takes package forwarding a step further. “Shop & Ship” also offers API integration with participating online merchants, which ultimately brings the consumer to the global shop.
“Ultimately it is the reverse way of thinking about global commerce. Instead of international shops & brands localizing for the local consumer, we take the local consumer to their shop.” Says Mikail. “We just happen to do it in a way where you have a special checkout address that resolves the concerns around international shipping, customs, duties and clearance. International product delivery is curated directly for the local consumer. It is like we are teleporting that consumer to the international store.”
And with that, we’re back here around talk of teleportation. Are consumers jumping into a futuristic machine to transport them to a new foreign land? Not yet, but with the benefit of a little ingenuity and effort, the problems of localization are being solved in a way that brings the consumer to the shop and not the other way around.