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Through the Looking Glass

The “present” of retail technology just got a little more futuristic. Specialty paint retailer Sherwin-Williams recently released a new consumer app for Google Glass, called ColorSnap Glass, which provides a digital layer of color samples customers can view using the Google Glass device.

While the retail industry has been doing an admirable job as of late in recognizing the need to develop customer-facing apps for portable connected devices such as smartphones and tablets, for the most part it has not yet acknowledged that wearable connected devices such as Google Glass are now part of the IT landscape. Wearable technology is hardly mainstream today, but there is no reason to think it will not become a standard means for consumers to connect to the Internet tomorrow.

Any retailer with any kind of mobile or omnichannel strategy should certainly start investigating the challenges and benefits releasing apps for wearable devices like Google Glass will likely present. Some retailers should go ahead and start actual development. Is your organization one of them? Compare your situation to three specific aspects of Sherwin-Williams’ situation that made releasing a Google Glass app a wise decision.

Selective Customers
Not many customers idly browse a paint shop. They visit a paint retailer for a specific purpose, expecting to spend some money. Many of them are homeowners. All these factors add up to Sherwin-Williams having a customer base that is more affluent and selective about the products they purchase than the general population. This is the type of base most likely to appreciate and have use for a leading-edge shopping aid like a Google Glass app.

Visual Product
Obviously Google Glass is a visually oriented device. Not every type of product will naturally translate to Google Glass or provide an effective return on s Google Glass app to showcase it in a lifelike manner. Giving customers the opportunity to view a realistic virtual representation of paint samples is a huge convenience that pays off in several ways.

In addition to reducing the need for store associates to review samples with shoppers, the app also lets customers realistically browse paint colors without even leaving home, further easing the process of reviewing and selecting colors in the store. Thus beyond presumably increasing sales conversions, the app also lightens the workload of sales associates. A less visual product would not offer this type of return in omni-channel effectiveness and efficiency.

Mobile Experience
Wearable devices like Google Glass are essentially an extension of existing mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. There are key differences between a computing device you carry and one you wear, but there are also many similarities in terms of form and function. Thus before seriously investigating apps for Google Glass, retailers need to already have a well-established, robust mobile app offering and supporting expertise.

For example, Sherwin-Williams has had a mobile version of the ColorSnap app in place since 2009. Google Glass and other wearable computing devices may represent the future of omnichannel commerce, but it is hard to prepare for the future unless you are already well-prepared in the present.


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