5 Strategies for SMBs Looking to Leverage Wearable Tech

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Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside WearablesEverything makes its way to Main Street eventually, including wearable tech. Although global companies are on the front lines of the wearables movement, taking advantage of things like Apple Watch for mobile payments and Google Glass for customer service, SMBs are taking a more reserved approach. Many are waiting to see how wearable devices are adopted by consumers before deciding for themselves how to best take advantage of the technology.

Already, 45% of online adults in the U.S. say they are interested in wearable devices. As that interest grows, businesses of all sizes will have more opportunities to collect the types of consumer data that can fuel local marketing and sales growth. Here are five strategies for SMBs that are interested in utilizing wearable technology, either for marketing, operations, customer service, or any other avenue, from leaders in the wearable technology market.

1. Fueling customer care “Wearables are a game changer for customer care and mobile CRM. Small and mid-sized businesses should craft original content, specifically tailored for wearable devices, to offer a unique experience for consumers. Messages delivered via wearable technology have the opportunity to be hyper-relevant, timely and personal — which is what customers desire and expect. Before incorporating wearable devices into customer engagement, businesses should look at their strategy and consider implementation from a joint perspective of marketing, IT and customer service. In this endeavor, SMBs have the advantage because their organizational structures tend to be more flexible, allowing them to take an innovative, collaborative approach to new opportunities.” (Stacy Adams, mBlox)

2. Opportunities for local relevance “We see wearables increasingly harnessing sophisticated image-recognition to drive a brand new visual browsing behavior within two to three years. Wearers will be able to ‘look’ at the physical static world around them and instantly find out more, like where the nearest movie theater is playing that film; book that restaurant table, translate that menu, locate that business on a map relative to your current position. Such applications are, by their nature local, and will provide huge opportunities for small and medium sized business to put themselves in front of their consumers in a contextual, immediately relevant way.” (Jess Butcher, Blippar)

3. Optimized messages “Messages delivered to wearable devices must be targeted, short and immediately actionable, making SMS and MMS messages optimal. Nobody wants to read a graphics-heavy marketing email on a watch, but an animated MMS message would maximize impact. Businesses have to take extreme care when crafting messages that will be received on a wearable device. If you tap a consumer on the wrist, you need to deliver the best, most appropriate message. Having a relationship with that consumer based on great experience and care goes a long way to achieving success in this way.” (Stacy Adams, mBlox)

4. Driving payments and foot traffic “Currently, wearables are very much in a 1.0 phase, certainly at least in terms of functionality like sensing, tracking of various sorts, alerts, and notifications. As we graduate into a 2.0 arena where more advanced functionality and broader social acceptance will come into view, we might start to see features such as identity and security become more commonplace. It will be features like this that may have some impact or utility to SBOs since this can drive payments, foot traffic tracking, proximity-based promotions, and more in-depth customer behavior analytics. One of the things that will be needed for these kinds of features to really become mainstream will be infrastructure — kiosks, in-situ sensors to detect the wearables, and payment terminals — will be needed to work with these new wearables.” (Sonny Vu, Misfit Wearables)

5. Cutting marketing costs “Small businesses, in particular, can benefit from cost savings. Rather than firing off regular, impersonal marketing blasts, they can concentrate their spending power on a personalized, location-based and immediately actionable message to a customer as he or she walks in the front door. In order to maximize the effectiveness of wearable engagement, small businesses should invest in location capabilities. Brands can use location data to further tailor communications with consumers, deepening and strengthening customer relationships.” (Stacy Adams, mBlox)

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.