- 13 Oct 2014
Thanks to numerous and continued smartphone enhancements we have become embroiled in a world of mobile connectivity. Smartphones have seen mobile phones evolve beyond being portable communication hubs, and into technical devices that allow us to source information, shop in real time and much more – at the drop of a hat.
But what happens when mobile devices are no longer the only portable devices on the market, what if there was something that offered connectivity and intelligence but was also wearable and fashionable.
In the past 18 months wearable technology has exploded on to the scene and I’m sure it won’t have escaped your attention how dramatic the advances in mobile technology have become. From Apple to Samsung, glasses to watches, the world of wearable connectivity is expanding rapidly – and we are interested to see what effect, if any, this will have on retailers?
Salesforce recently referred to wearable technology as the new smartphone. After seeing the impact that smartphones have had on the way we shop, communicate and source data we have been opened up to an exciting new way of doing things, revolutionising customer shopping habits – allowing us to shop on the move. This made us question – how much further can we go and what exciting advances lay ahead?
Berg Insight predicts that by 2017 wearable smart device sales worldwide will reach 64 million units, and retailers are getting ready to tap in to this trend. eBay, for example, recently announced a focus on bringing commerce to wearable devices and connected devices, emphasising the desire to bring commerce on to any screen imaginable.
Overall it will mean more informed shoppers on the High Street, who can use connected devices to place themselves deep within the omnichannel retail journey. This can put added pressure on retailers as they must provide a compelling in-store experience to keep their bricks and mortar link in the omnichannel chain alive. Thought needs to be put into how applications on wearable technology can support and enhance customer’s entire omnichannel journey.
Wearable technology will not only revolutionise the experience for consumers but can also assist retailers behind the scenes. Store staff will be able to use wearable technology to access key data from any location in the store, assist with planning, merchandising, sales marketing and many other core business functionalities. This could also assist with customer experience in store, being able to approach customers and assist them on the spot, whether they may be sourcing an item from another store or searching for items in varying sizes and colours it can really help to enhance the customer experience – with a more personal offering.
The outlay cost of wearable technology in the retail sector is not something to be underestimated and would pose a significant cost. Also with this ease of access to greater amounts of information it could act as a distraction to store staff – so there would have to be some consideration when rolling out in store that this technology may get miss-used due to ease of accessing personal data and constant access to social platforms.
While the wearable revolution offers virtually limitless applications across a number of verticals, we have only begun to scratch the surface. With new products being announced on a seemingly weekly basis, such as Will.i.am’s smartwatch coming this summer, which is designed to make calls, play music and sync with various social platforms, the possibilities of what these devices do and the roles they can play in the lives of consumers seems relatively endless.
Customer adoption rate will play a huge role in how this will really affect retail businesses. Mass appeal will help to lower the cost of the hardware, and can open up much greater options for retailers in regards to connectivity and how this can assist in running businesses more efficiently through wearable technology.
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