What Google Glass Means for Ecommerce

Hailed as the next step in mobile computing technology, a pointless fashion faux pas data miner, and everything in between, Google Glass seeks to change the way you experience life. When you put on this new piece of technology, you can pull up directions, take photos and video, send and view messages, and do much more. In the professional arena, the product is already being explored for use by soldiers, doctors, security personnel, pilots, and others who need hands-free technology to perform their jobs well. One area in particular that will be affected is ecommerce. With a portable computer on your face, you can do a lot for your online shopping sprees. See something you want to buy? Need some price comparisons? Looking for product suggestions? Google Glass should be able to help you out with these sorts of tasks. Here’s how Google Glass can impact the world of ecommerce.

What is Google Glass?

Shaped as a pair of glasses, Google Glass is a computer that uses an optical head-mounted display to show you information. Think of it as a smartphone that does not require you to use your hands. You issue verbal commands to the device, and it provides you with the information or functionality you need. The initial prototype came out in 2011, and since then, the product was made available to select early adopters earlier in 2013. The official release date is probably within a year, but tech companies are already developing third-party apps for use with the headpiece, some of which pertain to ecommerce platforms.

First-Party Ecommerce Functionality

One of the major features with Google Glass for shopping is the ability to purchase items through the product. Say that you go into a store and see something you like. All you need to do is scan the item’s bar or QR code through Google Glass, and you can then pull up a number of details for it. For instance, you can compare pricing between online stores, take a look at customer reviews, and ultimately make a checkout. If you see a price that you like in an online store but want to purchase it locally, Google Glass can display the location of the item on a map if the online store has a brick and mortar presence. You literally have access to the entire Internet in front of your face. Again, it’s just like a smartphone without the use of your hands.

Now say that you’ve found a great product that falls in your target price range. You want to check your shopping cart out securely, but how do you pay for it? Google has already planned to integrate Google Wallet with Google Glass as the main way to handle online purchases. For those who are unfamiliar, Google Wallet acts as a free online payment processing solution that supports all major credit and debit cards. You can also attach a banking account to it, send money to friends and family, and have it maintain your loyalty programs and gift cards. Many online and brick and mortar merchants already use Google Wallet, so it makes sense for you to setup this payment option if you want to attract Google Glass shoppers.

It is also worth noting that because it is so easy to share visual content and make a checkout through Google Glass, shoppers may be more inclined to make impulse purchases. For instance, say that you are on the fence for purchasing an item. You want to consult your significant other or friends before making a financial commitment. Normally, you’d have to pull out your phone, take a picture, log into a website, and post the content. With Google Glass, the product streamlines sharing by reducing it to a few voice commands and taps. Some people even hypothesize that you will be able to stream your shopping in real-time in front of an Internet audience. For checkout, the process is again simplified to a few taps and voice commands. Theoretically, the consumer has less time for second thoughts and other forms of interruptions, both of which are responsible for a large number of abandoned carts. Because of the path of less(er) resistance, a lot more sales are going to happen.

Third-Party Apps for Ecommerce

Despite the fact that Google Glass has yet to launch, third-party developers are already thinking of innovative apps and features for use by shoppers. In fact, some companies have already created full ecommerce apps to help with shopping.

The app Fancy helps you find products that appeal to you through crowd-curated content. With your mobile phone, you can take a photo of an item you want and upload it into your Fancy account. Whenever an important development happens to an object in your Fancy portfolio, the company sends you a notification. Additionally, you have the option of going through the Fancy catalog and purchasing goods directly from ecommerce stores.

Fancy for Google Glass takes things to the next level by offering a color search service. Say that you’re staring at your painted apartment wall and all of a sudden decide that you need a decoration to occupy some space. Using Fancy for Google Glass, you can take a picture of your wall and browse through products that aesthetically mesh with your room’s colors. Each tap of the touchpad delivers a new item, and you can view details such as item description and price. Once you decide on a purchase, you can use the app for checkout.

Another big app that is making its way around the tech world is Glashion. This program debuted at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 hackathon and helps you find and purchase fashion items you see on random pedestrians. All you need to do is install the app onto your Google Glass set, take a photo of something you want, and browse through the results pages until you settle on an accurate match. From there, you can either have the app send you an email link for online checkout or pull up a map of local brick and mortar stores that carry the product.

Beyond these announced apps, there have not been many developments (so far) made in the third-party ecommerce app arena. Google has plans to launch a Google Glass app store (called Glassware), allowing people from all backgrounds a chance to make the most out of the head computer. You yourself can create an app for your ecommerce store. Imagine making something that automatically displays your online price when you scan a bar code. You can even add neat features by showing the amount of money saved through your store or offering makeshift specials. If you have a good idea, you can build it and edge yourself in front of your competitors.


Google Glass aims to be the latest in disruptive technology by changing how consumers shop. Online price comparison, peer consulting, and checkout will be streamlined, thereby lowering the rate at which shopping carts are abandoned. The product is still in its testing phases though, so the full extent to which it will be transformative remains to be seen. Each new feature announced promises potential for shoppers and store owners alike, and it’s never too early to develop an idea for integrating the product with your ecommerce store.

Published by

Joseph Yi

Since he was a freshman in college, Joseph has worked in several internet startup companies and has developed campaigns and digital strategies for Fortune 500 companies and brands including the Los Angeles Lakers, Manchester City FC, the Oakland Raiders, Sephora, and Whole Foods.

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