Selling the “Wow”

Selling the "Wow"

Selling the "Wow"

Corning specialty glass helps bridge the gap between digital and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences

Even as consumers continue to love the ease of online shopping – with estimated global sales soaring past $1.6 trillion in 2015 – brick-and-mortar locations remain their primary connection with retail brands.

Seeing and touching merchandise remain powerful reasons shoppers willingly head for the store. Plus, they like the convenience of taking their purchase home right away. On the other hand, they’re hooked on the notion of researching and customizing products online, even if they eventually end up with an in-store purchase.

With consumers shifting frequently between online and in-person shopping – often combining them by researching on mobile devices while in the store -- retailers are strategizing to make the overall experience as seamless and customer-friendly as possible.

It’s known as omnichannel marketing, and it plays out like this: A shopper interacting with a touchscreen, selecting product information at will in a highly personalized experience, while still being within arm’s reach of the product itself.

Progressive retailers are banking on the fact that once shoppers are physically in a store, they tend to browse and make more purchases than they would online.

So bridging this gap between physical and digital worlds is a competitive advantage. And Corning specialty glass is inspiring many retailers to make that advantage their own. Here’s why:

Glass helps provide a full-immersion experience

At CES 2016, Corning demonstrated a concept of an omnichannel storefront window showcasing Under Armour activewear. As visitors stepped up to the window, related product images appeared – as if from nowhere – on the tough, damage-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass display. With a simple touch, they could browse information about products in the window and others of interest.

The Gorilla Glass panels were bonded with an interlayer of holographic film and perceptive capacitive foil. A projection system beamed the interface at an angle, creating vibrant, responsive images without disrupting the transparency of the window.

Sound effects – enabled by transparent Gorilla Glass speakers – add another “wow” factor. And products appeared to hover in mid-air when positioned above a glowing swath of Corning® Fibrance™ Light-Diffusing Fiber.

It makes thing personal

Many of the strongest store brands are built on devoted customer service. Retailers want to make sure their loyal customers continue to feel personally connected to the store experience, even as they’re standing just outside the main door.

Corning specialty glass has long been an excellent substrate for the circuitry that brings consumer electronics to life. Its remarkable clarity and stability through high-temperature processing now makes it a great choice for new generations of electronic applications, giving a store window capabilities not possible with most other materials.

Through a smartphone app, for example, an omnichannel window could recognize a loyal shopper who pauses to touch the interactive surface. The shopper could receive personalized recommendations on products based on purchase history, or get special in-store discounts not available online – all designed as incentives to come inside and shop. 

It makes for a practical pop-up

Temporary storefronts have become appealing, cost-effective ways for retailers to gain exposure in venues outside the traditional brick-and-mortar store.

Incorporating an interactive glass display window can help the pop-up retailer intrigue passersby, mirroring the brand’s online experience and establishing an instant presence in unexpected locations -- for example, a holiday festival or hipster-neighborhood warehouse.

Gorilla Glass is ideally suited for the task.

It’s technically optimized for touchscreen interaction, of course – and with a thickness of less than half a millimeter, it’s also significantly lighter weight than traditional soda-lime window glass. It also makes for easy, efficient handling when crews assemble the window, and then pack it back into a crate to ship to its next location.

Another smart add-in to the pop-up: Functionality enabled by Optical Cables by Corning®, so cloud connections for credit card purchases can be lightning-fast and flawless.

It gives retailers better control of their own brands

Online shopping – while representing great sales opportunities – has also put major brands at risk. Shoppers in search of more choices may quickly navigate themselves far away from the brand they may have wanted in the first place.

So by offering a compelling, highly personalized touchscreen experience at the storefront, retailers can appeal to digitally savvy consumers while keeping their search focused on one brand. The better the overall experience, the better the chances they’ll remain brand-loyal – not only for immediate in-store purchases, but for return trips as well.

By enabling this experience for both customer and retailer, Corning specialty glass helps transform a fractured set of transactions, unifying them into something that’s seamless, gratifying, and memorable.


Corning’s exhibit at 2016 CES showcased Corning’s vision on how glass enables a more connected, collaborative, and interactive world. The company introduced that vision in 2011 with the video series “A Day Made of Glass.” Since then,  many leading brands, designers, educational institutions, and others have been inspired to collaborate with Corning to make this world a reality. Through our CES exhibit and our Glass Age campaign, we aim to continue inspiring innovators in the relevant supply chains to make prototypes like these commercially available.

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