Imagine you research a pair of designer sunglasses on your smartphone. They look great. Their reviews are favorable. They’re in your price range. But, you’re still not 100% sold on them. Several days later, you’re walking down the street and your smartphone alerts you that those sunglasses are carried at a nearby store. Now all you have to do is pop in and see if they’re in stock (and that you look great in them)!

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. This is a new feature offered by Google Now in an attempt to bridge the gap between the online and offline consumer worlds. For shoppers who love the functionality of online browsing but want to see products in person, this is a useful feature that could bring added foot traffic and revenue for local businesses.

Exactly how Google Now works in this manner is still not clear, as reps haven’t shared how close people need to be to the product and whether or not the feature can be turned off. After all, you wouldn’t want an alert about every product you search for, now would you?

And perhaps this is where the creepy side of online advertising comes into play. Even with more importance placed on user privacy, advanced technology is more polished and refined. People will joke that their smartphone knows them better than they do, but there is some truth to this. Biased, perhaps, but our gadgets have a way of collaborating the restaurants we eat at, the places we go and the interests we have and molding a fairly precise version of who we are.

For businesses, this feature will open the door for new growth and opportunity. For instance, if you own a small business that carries various types of products, it’s impossible to advertise them all. Even if your products are well known, people may not know about your location. If customers are alerted that the items they’re interested in buying are right around the corner, they can finish the final piece in the buying cycle: seeing the product in person.

We’re excited to see how successful Google will be at defeating the ultimate quest: connecting online search activity with offline purchases.