Last night I went to visit the San Francisco location of AllSaints, and in it I was intrigued by the installation of an iPad in an "antiqued" wood and metal frame amidst the merchandising in their Union Square store. While the iPads definitely stand out dramatically from the style of AllSaints decor, the juxtaposition seems to work.
What's more intriguing is the fact that we are getting ever closer to a meaningful merger of the online and brick and mortar shopping experiences. It's a small step, but just by moving the online experience closer to the merchandise and enabling it through a much friendlier interface (not a clunky computer keyboard and monitor) it somehow makes it more engaging as an embedded part of the shopping experience. Unfortunately the content of this iPad app was the AllSaints website and nothing more. It didn't recognize that the user was in the store or offer anything that you couldn't see at home!
Imagine if it could connect me to relevant merchandise in the store based on what I had already purchased or was currently considering. What if the online selections activated some highlighting technique in the merchandise in the store. The inability to really feel materials and truly see the item is what prevents so many people from using online stores even when they do shop online for other things like electronics or media.
It is as if we are witnessing an early relic of proto-pervasive retail technology, but it still feels that an opportunity has been missed and we've got a ways to go.