The wearables market is continuing to expand, from 33 million units shipped this year to an estimated 148 million units shipped annually by 2019. While most consumers think of wearable devices as tools for tracking steps or handling mobile payments, executives in the local industry know better.
“The growing utilization of raw sensor data enables a new kind of predictive capability for all apps. The applications for businesses are endless,” says Eli Portnoy of Sense360, a startup that’s developing software to analyze the data flowing from smartphone sensors.
In order to take full advantage of the data that wearables provide, businesses need to give consumers a reason to share. Incentivizing the use of wearables through an enhanced in-store experience will continue to spur consumer adoption and it will enable businesses to address their customers with relevant information and experiences.
Here are six examples of ways that wearables can be leveraged to enhance the shopping experience for customers at brick-and-mortar stores.
1. Streamlining product search “For retail apps, search can be streamlined through voice queries and shoppers can quickly see the aisle and shelf location or route through their shopping list on their wrist with no phone required in their hands. Successful retail apps on wearables will be simple and easy to navigate, adding a powerful digital overlay on the in-store shopping experience.” (Aaron Dane, Point Inside)
2. Contextually relevant notifications “For wearables, the apps themselves are pretty much meaningless. They are hard to access, limited in functionality, and generally more trouble than they are worth. What matters are the notifications. And the big question around notifications is whether or not they are contextually relevant.” (Eli Portnoy, Sense360)
3. Targeted promotions “Marketing promotions can be sent to your watch as you enter a store and people will have the ability to scan items in their cart for faster checkouts. Stores will have deeper onsite analytics into your historical purchases to provide thoughtful recommendations by sales associates. In terms of rewards programs, wearables will replace plastic loyalty cards and gift cards, allowing people to focus more on the shopping process.” (Chris Ciabarra, Revel Systems)
4. Secure, convenient payments “By using a biometrically authenticated wearable like the Nymi Band, [which] uses your heartbeat to identify you, shoppers can make secure and convenient credit card payments simply by tapping their [wearable] at a tap-and-pay terminal. If you lose your Nymi Band, it’s of no use to anyone who finds it because it won’t authorize payments until the user successfully confirms their identity.” (Shawn Chance, Nymi)
5. Reduced reliance on smartphones “Wearables, like the Apple Watch, are the digital filter to the growing ‘always online’ world. Wearables are a simple way to filter out when we need to look at our phones and when we don’t. They enable shoppers to easily glance at their wrists without having to take out their phone – priceless when pushing a cart and looking for items in-store.” (Aaron Dane, Point Inside)
6. In-store pertinence, out of the store “For businesses, the great promise of a wearable device is that of delivering an incredibly relevant message at exactly the right time, whether that is in-store or not. But the process of determining context and relevancy is not just limited to wearables – it’s a universal trend for all of digital.” (Eli Portnoy, Sense360)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.