Need to know what the weather is in Nova Scotia, how to make vegetarian-vegan lasagna, or what kind of shoes Adele was wearing on the Red Carpet at the Oscars? Google it. Google is the most used search engine for those who want to know or find just about anything. It dominates the Internet for information sourcing. Considering its ubiquity, it makes sense that Google reach for a new frontier: retail.
An article in Forbes, "Why Google Should Open Stores," makes the case for Google creating physical stores. What would they sell? Well, you can get a preview of their foray into the retail world by visiting a Best Buy Store and experiencing the Google Chromebook, Google’s laptop for a ridiculous price of $250. Built by Samsung, it’s thin, light and comes with 100GB of Google Storage. Google’s Chrome kiosks at Best Buy Stores are the Internet giant’s “toe in the water” to try out the retail market.
According to the article, in December of 2012, Google denied that it is going to open retail stores. But why not? With Google’s success as the “go-to” website for just about anything, why not sell the hardware used to access the information that they are the best at delivering?
Smartphone saturation has reached 50 percent, the article reports. Future customers for Google’s services are going to come from a different kind of consumer than those who are already accessing the Internet on their smartphones or other hand-held devices or iPads. Those consumers are more conservative and so are their buying habits. Google can’t just be a great technology company. It also needs to appeal to consumers. And these consumers may like to shop in stores, feel the merchandise and interact with human beings.
When you think of Google, most people picture Google’s front page with the innovative museum of Google doodles, commemorating holidays, people and events. A physical presence doesn't come to mind. Alternatively, consider a company like Apple, which calls to mind not only a logo, the brand, or the face of Steve Jobs, but also busy retail locations. In order for Google to make it in the retail market they have to develop a brand for their retail products.
Retail will create new challenges for Google. Retail stores have salespeople who can sell, know the products and can help people make buying decisions. They also have individuals who deal with product and service problems. It’s a lot of face-to-face interaction, which is a far cry from tapping a few keys into a search line to get what you want in an instant. Creating and maintaining the same level of superiority in retail as Google has done online will be a significant challenge.
Google will also be competing against hardware and digital device powerhouses that are already established in the retail market. But Google is leading in innovative products with the Google Car and Google Glasses. Developing new, cutting-edge products makes the plunge into the retail market the next logical step. It’s a way to introduce new products and compete against established tech companies in the retail market, like Apple.
Today, if you want to find out just about anything, you can Google it on a Google’s own Chromebook. Google doesn’t need to build name recognition. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since September 4, 1998, you already know the Google name and its reputation for delivering fast, comprehensive sources of information. Building on an established name and reputation makes it easy to shift from the cloud to a storefront with an address assigned by the Post Office.
And Adele’s shoes? Google says they were Christian Louboutin.
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