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Wearable Smart Devices and the Retail Industry

Apple Watch gold

Despite the recent decline and discontinuation of Google Glass, it’s been projected by some technology experts that 2015 may be the year of more practical “wearable products”, especially with the heavily publicized Apple Watch set to make its debut in the coming months. But what do these new wearable smart devices mean for the retail industry? Let’s take a look at how wearable products can be used in a retail environment as technology evolves…


To easily create user-generated content – From audio to even photo and video, wearable products can make it easier for consumers to create their own content. From recording their in-store shopping experiences to taking photos of products, this content can be beneficial to retailers as some are starting to leverage more user-generated content for promotions and within their online retail sites.


Facilitate push reminders and information (SMS, app notifications, etc.) – How can retailers stay top-of-mind with consumers? By delivering customized messages that they don’t even need to access their phones to view. Especially with “smart watches” such as the Apple Watch, opportunities will likely become more prevalent with this method of delivering information to increase the exposure of promotions (especially flash sales and limited offers), shipping updates, and abandoned cart situations.


To support email marketing on wearable devices – Almost a decade ago, email marketing began its transformation from a “desktop only” experience to a multi-device promotion opportunity. It is certainly feasible that as wearable devices become more popular that a similar shift could occur on an even smaller screen, meaning smaller and more impactful email designs with less text.


To make and track payments, both online and offline – Wearable products can simplify the process of making payments, especially for omni-channel retailers. These devices can have NFC (near-field communication) capabilities to purchase easily in store and can also access codes for retailers to scan, somewhat similar to a boarding pass for a flight. According to AYTM Research, 43% of U.S. smartphone owners would make a payment in-store using a wearable device.


Simplifying immediate information requests – Wearable product makers understand typing, even on touch screens, is becoming a thing of the past. With wearable products being so small or visual focused, speech commands will be featured within many of these innovative products. Information such as store hours and even image-recognition technology (such as price comparison and availability) could be an aspect of wearable products in the future.



To still be fashionable with “smart jewelry” – After seeing some wearable products such as Google Glass, some consumers are concerned about the “fashion over function” element of wearable products. This concern has led to some retailers creating jewelry pieces with technology (such as Bluetooth necklaces, shown above) built directly into the jewelry in a subtle way. Although further in the future, “smart glasses” will likely look more similar to modern eyewear than say, the Google Glass, which was a critical reason for its lack of success.


To relay information for creating custom products – The level of customization available, especially for online-only retailers, can expand greatly thanks to wearable products. For example, a company that makes custom golf clubs could use a wearable glove to determine what type of grip the club should have and what type of material the club should be made of (steel, titanium, etc.) given the technique in which the consumer grips the club.


In conclusion, wearable smart devices have a unique spectrum of capabilities that can be leveraged by retailers as the technology trend grows in the coming years. Moving forward, retailers should consider the impact wearable devices may have over the next few years as they think about their current and future technology infrastructure, both from a marketing and operations perspective. We’re looking forward to seeing the relationship between wearable products and the retail industry evolve in the years to come!