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Wearables: How Are They Helping Customers Shop Better?

The digital age has brought us devices that we could’ve only dreamed of decades ago. One of the most popular products of this generation is the smartphone; a perfect combination of the desktop computer, high-tech camera, mobile phone – all in just one little compact machine.

Another trend that’s only waiting to take off is wearable commerce aka w-commerce. From large phones, consumers are slowly shifting towards more compact gadgets as all-in-one solution to integrate their existing devices. According to a Juniper Research titled “Smart Wearable Devices: Fitness, Healthcare, Entertainment, and Enterprise: 2013-2018”, the world is going to spend at least $130 million on wearables by 2018. More and more users will be adopting this technology, as devices become more affordable and innovators come up with new apps and features that add value and are able to enhance the wearable experience significantly.

Wearables or “fashion electronics” are devices that help facilitate in tracking of one’s activities. Its history dates as far back as 1980 when Steve Mann, a researcher at MIT, strapped a cathode ray-tube to his head demonstrating that one could wear technology. Earlier versions include Jawbone, which tracks a person’s activities including sleep, eating habits and calorie intakes. From its fitness applications, wearable technology is now poised to help facilitate in other transactions just like how Google Glass could be used for shopping or Microsoft’s HoloLens to view products in 3D.  

If you are in retail, be on the lookout for the increase spending on and usage of wearables that will create a huge behavioral shift in the market. Marketing and selling to your shoppers will never be the same once they have been made accustomed to the use of wearables.

Wearables have their own challenges and advantages. As we look at future use cases of w-commerce, here are some that are worth considering:

Better In-Store Shopping Experience

When you’re managing a shop, one of the things you look out for is the experience of your customer’s in-store. Your store has to sell your products for you; it should be well-lit, smell nice and should be equipped with knowledgeable sales attendants to help facilitate the buying process.

The use of wearables will greatly impact and change the traditional in-store shopping experience as we know it. Shoppers will no longer have to rely on sales attendants to memorize every information about your products so they can relay these to the customers. Your wearable-equipped shoppers will be able to readily retrieve any information about your products using their wearable devices. A quick scan of an item, a few clicks and taps on their watch, and the shopper could access any information they want, and have all the pertinent details about the product to make a purchase decision.

Shopping with Google Glass


Similarly, with the use of wearables, paying for goods will become a breeze too! Instead of digging through their bags in search of their wallets or cards, customers can now facilitate payment through their watch. Checking out will take less time and effort, saving up valuable resources for your business.


Optimizing the Store Layout

You will also have to consider adapting your store’s design, flow and layout once the wearable devices become more common among consumers. Products and in-store messaging within the consumer’s’ line-of-sight can augment the virtual reality that customers are experiencing during shopping.

Therefore, you have to maximize all the space you have and ensure the logical arrangement of products. You may even help a customer familiarize themselves with your shop’s layout before he or she visits your store or offer an app that integrates your store’s blueprint to help shoppers navigate straight to the products they’re interested in buying.  

Interior map example


Personalized Shopping

Wearable devices will disrupt the way businesses target, personalize and optimize offers. It offers marketers an opportunity to deliver more personalized, more timely, and more targeted content by analyzing a new set of real-time data and sensors. The challenge lies in combining them all in a smart way to deliver the right level of information at the right moment, as the main benefit and driver of w-commerce will be context-sensitivity and personalization. It will not be only about showing up on a device, but about showing up in a non-invasive, non-creepy, and sensitive way that adds real value to the shopper. Just like sending targeted offers according to a shopper’s buying behavior, their past activities, and current location. 

Shopping with Google Glass - scan a barcode, find a product


Smarter Shopping

As more consumers embrace wearable technology, retailers have both the challenge and opportunity to guide them during the buying process and take engagement to a much more personalized level. Wearable technology coupled with Guided Selling will ultimately contribute to a  smarter shopping experience for the customer, as it’s a flexible technology that allows for intuitive product discovery and navigation even on small devices. 

Smart shopping for oatmeal cookies


How do you think will w-commerce influence retail? Just go ahead and share your comments below.

Image credits: Imagine Life with Google Glass, SlashGear

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Jonha Richman invests through her private investment fund, JJ Richman. The firm's latest investments have been focused on real estate, equities, bonds, commodities, emerging technologies (such as AI, big data) and various other globally diversified assets.