AP Image

AP Image

To much fanfare, Google Glass has arrived. Consumers may not be able to get their hands on it yet, but we can all see what Glass will look like and Google has given us a tantalizing glimpse of its capabilities. But what could this latest evolution of the smart device mean for retailers like you? 

Leaving aside any reservations around the reliability of current voice recognition technologies and doubts as to whether or when Glass will become a true mass-market product, let’s imagine the possibilities – that, after all, is what the Glass Explorer campaign is all about.

Let’s wonder for a moment what ideas and concepts a retailer might tag #ifihadglass. Why retailers? Because retailers would need to engage with Glass to provide connectivity, services and experiences designed to exploit Glass’s features like voice control, head-up display and instant sharing.

First and foremost, Glass has the potential to accelerate the amazing transformation in-store retail is already undergoing.

Technologies like Endless Aisle, Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) and Augmented Reality are already proving their value in the store, but imagine how powerful these technologies could be if paired with capabilities like image recognition and head-up display.

As a result, Glass could take in-store innovation to a whole new level by enabling retailers to create personalised and immersive retail experiences in-store.

We can only sketch out the possibilities at this early stage, but what might a Glass-optimized in-store experience feel look like?

  1. Personalized:  It’s not hard to imagine Glass connecting with a shopper’s profile as soon as they enter a store, loading order history, preferences, personalisation data and so on – all the data required to ultimately deliver something akin to a virtual ‘personal shopper’.
  2. Guided:  Imagine a shopper has browsed products online, even added them to a wish list.  What if a ‘storenav’ service draws on mapping technology and RFID tagging to direct him or her straight to the relevant products? The same concept could ultimately work in real time – “OK Glass.  Show me dresses by brand x”.  Then there is “OK Glass.  Show me accessories that go with this dress,” and so on.
  3. Informative:  Some retailers are already using interactive screens to display detailed information, imagery and video around ‘hero’ products.  How much more powerful would that be if the same rich detail could be made available for any product?  For instance content could be streamed to a smart phone promoted by a glance at a 2D tag and an “OK Glass.  Show me…”  The same could be applied to reviews, recommendations and more.
  4. Immersive:  Augmented reality and Endless Aisle features are already in use.  But linking them directly to a shopper’s profile and preferences – and via a head-up display – opens up a whole host of new possibilities.  Personalised content and offers (“OK Glass.  Show me my offers”) could be displayed on Augmented Reality screens for instance.
  5. Shared: The power of recommendations and peer group influence cannot be understated.  But will Glass wearers be able to get instant approval of a product from friends whilst in-store by sharing images, content and so on?
  6. Transactional:  Glass could take the whole concept of mPOS to a new level – the customer and sales assistant would not even need to be in the same place.  The customer scans a barcode or QR code to view payment options and complete the transaction there and then.  Elsewhere, the sales assistant receives a sale confirmation on a smart device and bags the goods for collection or home delivery.

Of course much of this is blue-sky thinking.  There is a long way to go before Glass is ready a reality and able to support these kinds of shopping experiences.  But with or without Glass, the in-store experience is changing fast and only accelerating with the convergence of online and offline retail.

So, no matter what devices and technologies emerge to define the in-store retail reality, retailers must be ready to embrace change – they must be able to move fast and respond to innovations that could change the game.  That means, among other things, putting probing questions to ecommerce platform vendors about their infrastructure’s ability to support rapid innovation, in-store and online, agility and growth.