6 Ways Google Glass will Revolutionize Retail Experience

Who would have ever guessed that January 9, 2007 would become a turning point for the entire retail industry? This was the day when Steve Jobs pulled an iPhone out of his pocket, and introduced the first smartphone during the MacWorld conference.

Fast-forward less than 10 years and you see what looks like a pretty chaotic retail landscape. Showrooming, seamless platform integration, new touchpoints’ creation – many traditional retailers (even the industry’s big dogs) are having trouble keeping up.


Because what is changing in the retail world is the consumer, not the retailer.

The key to surviving and thriving in the face of this change lies in consumer behavior.

Instead of focusing on costs and operating efficiency, brick-and-mortar stores should look at the new technologies that, just like the smartphone or iPad, will disrupt and re-shape shopping behavior.

One such technology is Google Glass.

This mysterious and potentially game-changing gadget has been hovering ominously on the horizon for over 2 years, making many traditional retailers nervous.

If it catches on (and it will if Google and Luxottica find a way to incorporate the Glass device into fashion and social norms), the disruptive change Google Glass will bring to the retail world will be just as powerful as the one created by smartphones and tablets… only this time it’ll happen much faster.

Does Google Glass hold a threat or an opportunity?

The answer is both. It’ll definitely hurt traditional brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce websites that fail to adopt and integrate these technologies into their retail ecosystem.
On the other hand, Google Glass holds the undeniable potential to enhance, simplify and enrich the customer experience across all stages of the shopping cycle and forward-looking retailers should take note of that.

Here are the 7 Biggest Ways Google Glass will Revolutionize Retail Experience:

1. Quicker access to relevant data

Often the innovative power of technology lies in its simplicity. Improving retail experience is not always about adding choices or installing digital screens throughout the store. Sometimes it’s about eliminating. For instance, eliminating the need to search for tags to learn basic information about a piece of clothing.

As of now, to get a clear idea about a product’s price, size, origin, care instructions and fiber contents, an average customer has to search for and read 3 different tags. For electronics or groceries this process isn’t much simpler. It calls for some serious disruption and a few start-ups have already started working in this direction.

Quite a few smartphone apps allow you to scan the QR code to pull up all the information about the product in a matter of seconds. It’s a good start, but the question industry innovators are asking themselves is – Do we really need QR codes?

Google’s own shopping app is already able to recognize the covers of books and games, providing you with reviews, prices and discounts without having to scan barcodes.

Another US-based company called AlchemyAPI has recently built an object-recognition app for Google Glass. It takes about 250ms to analyze an image and recognize it, amking the whole shopping experience more seamless and hands-free.

For customers it means a more natural and immersive shopping process. For retailers quicker purchasing decisions and reduced showrooming rates. Everybody wins!

2. Client-Specific suggestions

Giant’s like Amazon and Ebay have made billions of dollars on one single insight: making purchasing suggestions based on customers’ past purchases and preferences. Think of how much higher the conversion rates would be if traditional retailers could take the same logic and apply it to their offline space without making serious financial commitments.

Take Glass’s image-recognition ability and link it to a Google account that, in turn, is directly connected to your past internet search history, email, comments, product reviews and Facebook likes.

Results? An almost supernatural power in predicting, with a high level of precision, things that may appeal to the Glass wearer. Shoppers expect personalized, specific and relevant product suggestions they are used to in an online space. It only makes sense to bring the same practices offline.

3. Geo-targeted promotions

In today’s highly-competitive marketing era, the biggest issue with relevancy right now, doesn’t lie in reaching the wrong target audience. It lies in reaching the right target audience in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Google Glass GPS system and iBeacons technology aim to solve that. iBeacons’ location-aware sensors are already used by many leading brands to send notifications to shoppers’ iOS 7 devices, based on proximity.

This is how it will work in real life:

Let’s say that a consumer frequently buys beauty products from Sephora’s website. When she walks past a Sephora store, a message will be sent to her Glass about a limited-time offer on a make-up product that she has previously added to her wish list.

How effective is it? Ipsos Observer survey shows that 64% of people who receive a highly relevant offer, don’t just walk into the store. They buy. This is the power of being relevant.

4. More personalized customer service

Statistics show that even with all the “tell us how we’re doing” surveys run by traditional retailers, 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain. 91%, however, switch to a different retailer and never come back.

Facial expression recognition company Emotient aims at helping retailers avoid customer complaints and improve service by detecting and processing consumers’ emotions in real time.

Anonymous facial expressions of individuals are displayed as colored boxes in the Glass wearer’s field of view. Each color indicates one of 7 basic emotions, making sales assistants instantly aware of how happy or unhappy their customers are at the point of sale or point of entry.

Even though face-detection technology is less invasive than traditional in-store cameras, there are still some privacy concerns. Some time will have to pass before Emotient app becomes common practice in such areas as retail and healthcare. But its potential shouldn’t be underestimated.

5. Facilitated real-time virtual sales

Always-busy and always-connected Millennial like the idea of having an unlimited number of product choices under their fingertips. However, when it comes to such high-end products as designer apparel, jewelry or furniture, detailed product descriptions and photos don’t always give you a clear idea about what the product actually feels and looks like.

Imagine a Google Glass app that allows you to connect to in-store sales associates with virtual shoppers in real time. Imagine, being able to see the product you’re interested in from a first-person perspective, ask questions, get suggestions and complete your sale in a brick-and-mortar store without having to physically drive there. This is one of the platforms Eyevel is currently working on.

Potentially, it could take virtual shopping to a whole new level, while making a real impact of the store bottom line.

6. More foot traffic and sales increase

A lot of apps and start-ups that have contributed to the showrooming phenomena over the past few years. Some specialize on price comparison. Others like PoachIt send alert when a product that you like goes on sale.

Google Now app has the potential to bring these customers back into the store, increasing both offline conversion rates and profits. It has introduced new features that start from your search history and signal to you when a nearby store has a product that you’ve been searching for.

Just as Google has driven traffic to websites, it can now drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. The question is, will traditional retailers be able to create a compelling enough shopping experience to keep shoppers coming back?