retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, MNB took note of a Chicago story exploring what it might be like to go grocery shopping while wearing a pair of Google Glasses.

The broad impact: in the long run, the technology will make shoppers more informed and even more in charge of the shopping experience.

You can check out the entire piece here.

My comment, in part:

found it instructive - and not at all surprising - that one self-styled consultant interviewed for the piece talks about how stores won't welcome the technology because it will permit instant comparison shopping and give shoppers "another tool to kind of get one up on the store." And, the piece wonders how retailers that don't allow picture taking in their stores will react.

All of which strikes me as typically myopic thinking.

First of all, any store than bans cameras and picture taking in the store is guilty of self-delusion. Virtually every shopper now carries a camera into every store, and can take pictures - and post them instantly on the internet - at will.

As for empowering the customer … exactly. This is a good thing. Or, at the very least, an inevitable thing, so you might as well embrace it and treat it like a good thing. Because the impact of technology almost always is to empower the shopper through information and context, and to deny it, resist it or decry it is to simply waste energy that would be better spent creating a shopping environment that takes advantage of these shifts.

MNB reader Tom DeLuca responded:

Enamored with your story “Grocery Shopping While Wearing Google Glass”.

I share in your sentiment, “The real issue is whether retailers are wise enough to embrace a smarter shopper, to understand that while it may be tougher and more challenging to compete, the fruits of such efforts may be sweeter, with better connectivity to core customers.”

The notion that Google Glass will make a “more educated shopper” and allow for easier comparison shopping is so yesterday.  That ship has sailed. There’s a plethora of apps that do that today (with one simple scan of a barcode).

Take the issue a step further, that is, what if a retailer were more proactive and outfitted “a lucky customer(s)” with a pair of glasses to help said retailer see their store through “their” shoppers’ eyes?

Imagine a day when retailers really listened, I mean really embraced how the shopper experiences their trip – NOT how it’s imagined to be based on conjecture in a meeting room filled with “category experts”.

That “lucky customer”, donning a pair of glasses could navigate through a retailer’s aisles collecting mountains of insights for the retailer.  Did they see that new fixture? Did they take note of the display of bananas in the pudding aisle?  Did they even find what they were looking for on their list?

Retailers could collect invaluable information in real-time, and in this perfect world, they could in similar fashion react to what shoppers aren’t doing (or accentuate more of what’s working).

O.K. – so I’ve exceeded my 108 character limit, but my point remains.  We need to embrace the customer and see what they see.

One term you used really grabbed me: "category experts."

Because you are absolutely right. Most retailers have category experts, but those people are not necessarily customer experts. That is a huge gap, and it is growing as customer become more educated.

Retailers ignore this at their own peril….
KC's View: