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Opinion: Technology is moving from retailer to consumer

We’ve been promised a cashless society for years now, yet the consensus is that cash will be around for a long time yet.

As the launch of new mobile payment system Paym shows, there is no shortage of ways for us to pay for goods without dishing out loose change. For consumers this offers a fast and convenient service. But for retail designers the introduction of additional ways to pay, order or receive goods can mean a communication challenge: just how do retailers keep up?

In fact the sheer pace of technological development must be one of the biggest challenges for the retail design sector. Technology that is hot one minute can be old hat the next, far before it has worked its way through a balance sheet and justified its cost.

Just a couple of years ago it was considered cutting edge for retail staff to be equipped with tablets so they could help customers on the shop floor, or to provide fixed tablets for customers to use themselves. It is now commonplace.

But some designers are already looking ahead. Increasing numbers of consumers have tablets now, and almost all of them have smartphones. Surely they would prefer to use their own device to explore a retailer’s inventory, rather than one fixed to a table?

As Paym demonstrates, consumers are already happy for a payment system to be based on their phones. What will be the next service that could see the ownership of technology switched from retailer to consumer?