Leave it to Google to combine the Web with brick and mortar to create the concept of “Web and Mortar”. Although not an entirely brand new idea, it is still somewhat revolutionary to offer the interaction of the web at a physical store. You might think of this as a strange mash-up, but to Google it’s not just a nifty idea rather the direction of the consumer experience.
South Korean Supermarket chain, Tesco (Home Plus) tested the idea of a virtual store on the walls of the subway back in 2011. A customer could view the products on the wall and scan the QR codes into the store’s mobile phone app. The products scanned and accepted would then be shipped to the customer that same day.
Google takes the web and mortar idea a bit further, including more physical interaction. Using a large screen display with touchscreen capabilities, the customer can browse through the items available and get multiple views, before either scanning the QR code or processing the purchase. And what’s more as Google has been pushing toward faster service provisions, they are also moving toward same-day delivery services.
The Web and mortar concept breaks out of not only the traditional norms of either physical stores and localized inventory, but the sit-at-home ideal of the web. Web and mortar can be setup anywhere that a large format screen can sit, where in a kiosk at the mall, or at a convenience store. There is no content to stock and no equipment to register the sale as all customers will use either their own smartphone or the touchscreen to make purchases.
I look forward to the use of this concept in the near future, hopefully it will enable a better shopping experience for all.