What Does Tesco’s Google Glass App Tell Us About Marketing and Wearables?

Written by Intern - 22 Jan 2015

Despite the cynicism that surrounded Google Glass’s commerciality, tech fans still took a sharp intake of breath when Google revealed it was ending sales of the landmark device this week.

Tesco’s innovation team, Tesco Labs, may well have keeled over when they heard the news, as it came just days after the struggling grocer launched a shopping app designed specifically for the wearable android device.

The unfortunate timing for Tesco sparked comment on Twitter.

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tweeted from his personal account: “Bad timing – day after Tesco launches Google Glass app, the product is shelved.”

And @iandpattison commented: “They say timing is everything”.



Despite this, Tesco had actually taken a very innovative step, becoming the first retailer to create a glass enabled service. The Tesco Grocery Glassware app enables Google Glass wearers to shop through the device, scanning the barcodes of products and then adding them to their virtual basket to be ordered online.

Shopping with Google Glass from Tesco Labs on Vimeo.

And it is set to be big business. Many marketers have predicted wearables could transform the way consumers shop in a similar way mobile devices have.

So far, the fitness wearables such as Jawbone and Fitbit have been the most widely adopted devices, while smartwatches, such as the Pebble and Samsung Gear, are gaining more fans.

Samsung predicted in October 2014 that the UK wearables market would be worth £314m by Christmas 2014, with over one million devices sold. And Market Watch has forecaste that the value of the wearables market will explode to more than $30.2bn (£19.9bn) in 2018, from a predicted $9.2bn (£6.7bn) in 2014.

The theory is that marketers will be able to glean more behavioural data, enabling a more convenient, seamless marketing environment than ever before.

Best not run before you can walk

However, with Google Glass' hefty price tag of $1,500 (£990), and it only being available to a limited number of people via its select few “explorers”, or software developers, did it make sense for Tesco to create a dedicated app?

Retail expert Steve Dresser thinks not. He tweeted that Tesco may have been better off improving its current apps than focusing on a Google Glass app.

And so, businesses may be better keeping pace with technology rather than investing in emerging technology.

Meanwhile, for fans of wearables, Google has offered some reassurance, insisting it is committed to launching smart glasses as a consumer product and will stop making it in its current form – so Tesco says it will continue experimenting with the app.

A Tesco spokeswoman told Fresh Egg: “As the first UK retailer to offer online shopping and the UK pioneers of click-and-collect and scan- as-you-shop for grocery, Tesco experiments with technology which may in the future change the way customers want to shop.

“Wearable technology including Glassware is just one of the ways we are doing this.”

Integrating emerging technologies with your digital marketing strategy

But with mobile devices continuing to gain in popularity they are still considered to be a game-changer for digital marketing.

The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index revealed that sales via mobile devices over Christmas hit £8bn, a 55% increase on 2013’s £5.1bn festive spend. And 37% of all online sales were transacted via a mobile device over Christmas 2014, up from 27% in 2013.

Along with the rise of mobile and the dozens of other digital marketing trends to be considered, ‘The Internet of Things’ is one particularly interesting trend which supports the need for business owners and digital marketers alike to keep one eye on developing technologies.

Dr David Sewell, head of innovation for Fresh Egg, has this to say: “I predict a massive explosion in internet-enabled devices measuring you, measuring this, measuring that, measuring them, measuring me and measuring other stuff, too.”

The rich and interesting data that connected devices can arm us with will provide marketers with more opportunities and, ultimately, have an impact on their strategies.

This data should form part of an integrated, considered, multichannel digital marketing strategy, which prioritises the most pressing and impactful technologies for your business.

Fresh Egg’s integrated approach

At the centre of Fresh Egg’s integrated approach is a “test and learn” culture. Fresh Egg initially embarks on a discovery process, analysing the performance of your various digital channels to assess how traffic to your site is converting. The discovery reports are then used to plan and prioritise recommended activity and set measurable objectives for our work, before executing this activity accordingly.

Conversion rate optimisation is a great example of this type of activity. Our conversion experts will identify and improve particular elements of a website that are predicted to have the biggest impact on conversions; a process which can glean big wins in a short space of time. In fact, Fresh Egg achieves, on average, 44.9% improvement on average revenue per visitor for ecommerce websites and 32.8% improvement in conversion rates for non-ecommerce websites.

Wearables are forecast to be huge and we certainly don’t advocate ignoring their potential, but businesses may be best investing in what they know best for the time being: a digital marketing strategy based upon insights which are backed up by data.

Don’t want to make the same mistake as Tesco? Take a look at what Fresh Egg can do for you