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18/10/2007 - par Mark Tungate

Perhaps strangely, given my slightly retro appearance, I spend a lot of time writing about trends. I went back to the future yesterday for a conference held by The Future Foundation. This ­London-based organisation is devoted to finding out how we will live in a few years' time (futurefoundation.net). ­During one of the talks, I heard a great new expression : « dot calm ».

After first being fearful of online shopping, and then embracing it, we are now becoming blasé about it. We are buying almost as much as we want to buy on the web. The time when we will buy everything - food, clothes, everything - online will never come. We still enjoy going to the shops too much. We appreciate the social interaction. We like people.

Many dotcoms realise this, which is why they are setting up bricks and mortar versions of their online brands. I suspect that hardly anybody buys anything at an Apple store, for instance - but they go there to hang out, download music and ooh and ah over the ­latest gadgets.

The future will also see the emergence of a strange hybrid store that combines the thrill of window shopping with the ease of the web. Ralph Lauren already has several of these (the nearest is in London). Passing the store at night, you look in the window and see a shirt you like. The window is touch-sensitive, so you tap a spot near the shirt, enter your details, and the shirt turns up at your home a couple of days later. Touchez les vitrines, au lieu de les lécher.

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