One of the main things consumers love about e-commerce is that they can quickly find the exact product they want. Most online stores contain filters that can be adjusted to show products that are in a certain size, color, price range, or that have specific characteristics. This ability to filter searches can turn hundreds of random results into a few that you’re actually interested in.
Brick-and-mortar stores typically provide a much different experience. Instead of being directed to what you want, you’re left to wander through large stores and endless aisles packed with products that all start to look the same after a while.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Mobile computer vision technology brings product filtering to brick-and-mortar retail by making it possible to search for items in a visual way using barcode scanning and augmented reality. Forward-thinking retailers are looking for ways to blend the digital and physical worlds and bring the best features of e-commerce to the brick-and-mortar store. Visual filtering provides one key opportunity to do that. This technology brings the Internet of Things (IoT) to everyday objects, which means that an item can be identified and treated like it’s connected online, even if it’s not embedded with a computer chip.
Brick-and-mortar product filtering works just as easily as it works online. Shoppers use their mobile devices to select the product characteristics they want (ingredients, size, five-star customer rating). They then point the camera of their mobile computer vision-equipped smart device at the shelf and scan the barcodes of the products and/or shelf tags. The matching goods are then highlighted on the device screen using augmented reality graphics. This enables customers to find exactly what they want, so they can make their intended purchase without wasting any time—just like they would do online.
Using smart device-based barcode scanning and augmented reality to filter and search for products is great for shoppers, but it’s also a powerful tool for store associates. Routine tasks like inventory management and price verification are streamlined when an associate can point a mobile device at the barcode of an item on the shelf and instantly see how much they have in stock and if the price is correct, right on the screen.
No matter which retail environment you’re in, mobile computer vision and augmented-based data capture platforms open up new possibilities for bringing the efficiency of e-commerce to brick-and-mortar retail.
Justin Corbell is vice president of sales and business development, Americas at Scandit.