How glass will create the next great in-store experience

In brick-and-mortar retail, the customer experience has never been more important. Today’s shopper wants and needs to be dazzled. If the store doesn’t pop, they won’t shop. Fighting traffic to get to a drab strip mall with bad lighting is a poor substitute for internet shopping at home with free shipping and free returns.

Retailers and shopping mall owners now manage a buffet of sensory experiences to lure shoppers in and keep them there. From the smell of the stores to the style and volume of music to the brightness of displays, there are few details that are too small to care about.

Specialty glasses can perfect those details — glass is for more than just storefront windows. Designers select specialty glasses for a variety of architectural or functional characteristics in the shopping mall, from better displays to augmented reality-powered fitting rooms.

To see how the properties of glass boost the sensory experience, imagine a shopper walking into a modern mall. Daylight floods from skylights and nourishes plants, creating a sense of natural beauty. Mounted on the walls are video displays showcasing the trendiest fashions and the newest pop-up shops.

In many situations, the ambient light would cast irritating glares, rendering the content on these video displays invisible. But with anti-reflective glass, like SCHOTT CONTURAN, the shopper sees the video, and not the glass. Additionally, with an anti-reflective glass, mall owners can reap significant cost savings as the displays can realize a 15 to 20 percent cooling differential over those without the coating, allowing for larger and more energy-efficient displays.

Next, she walks to a touch screen display to get directions to her favorite store. The cover glass is smooth and clean, with highly haptic properties and an oleo- and hydrophobic coating on CONTURAN DARO resists smudging. There are no fingerprints and the display screen is smooth, subtly reinforcing a sense of luxury, thanks to the protective cover glass.

Once in the store, she finds a skirt she likes. She tries it on in the dressing room. The fit is great, the color is not. One touch turns the mirror, made of the semi-transparent mirror glass such as SCHOTT MIRONA, into an augmented reality display, able to show her what she would look like wearing that same skirt in any color she wants, without having to try it on again. The display could show how the clothes would look from behind. And if it isn’t in stock, she can order from a touchscreen display in the store.

But she might not even have to step in the dressing room. Unobtrusive mirrors arranged throughout the store might turn into displays to show her how she’d look in an outfit as she passed by a rack. That same feature could be used to lure her into the store as she passed by.

It might be able to show her what she looks like while walking, or in different settings. Imagine being able to see if a dress would make sense at a wedding, or if it would be better for a casual barbecue.

All of that amounts to an experience she can’t get at home.

Shopping is an emotional experience, and those emotions can be influenced by the sensory environment. From the moment a shopper walks into the mall, their senses are activated, on conscious and unconscious levels.

Specialty glass with specific properties can help brick-and-mortar retailers tailor a more positive, pleasurable experience that’s a feast for the senses.

July 10, 2018


Moritz Busch
Advanced Optics
SCHOTT North America, Inc.