By Anne Marie Olsen, vice president EMEA, PowerReviews
It may seem strange to think about it now, but not that long ago retailers could only interact with their customers through leaflets or catalogues, adverts in the media and of course, through super chirpy (and often super pushy) sales assistants.
In just a few short years, online sources of information and e-commerce managed to completely rewrite both the retail landscape and the consumer shopping experience.
Today, the ongoing upsurge of mobile, advent of wearable tech and the Internet of Things (IoT), is evolving the retail experience even further as the lines between in-store and online commerce merge.
New wearable trend
To dismiss this trend as futuristic or representative of a minority of shoppers would be a mistake. According to PowerReviews’ recent study of over 1,000 smartphone users, there is good reason for retailers to embrace wearable tech. The study showed that more than 45% of shoppers either already own or plan to buy a wearable device such as a smartwatch, smart glasses or fitness tracker in the next 12 months. And more than a third of these shoppers want the technology to make their lives easier.
The growth in technology promises hundreds of ways for a shopper to interact with a retailer and revolutionises the customer experience. Retail adoption of technology will help them deliver more targeted, context-driven product information in real time to their customers which in turn will help sales.
Got your eye on a cashmere sweater? Imagine all the product information you need is delivered directly to your mobile device – be it a phone or smartwatch – plus an added discount for being a loyal customer the next time you walk past the store.
Shoppers are interested in the variety of ways wearable technology can make shopping, especially the in-store experience, more efficient. Altogether 45% of smartphone owners surveyed said that they want wearable devices to save them time when shopping by alerting them to long queues, enabling one-click payments or delivering reminders about special events such as birthdays, holidays or anniversaries, when already out shopping.
By embracing micro-location technologies such as beacons and near field communication (NFC), retailers can unveil a new ‘window of truth’ about their customers, which will provide them with improved insight into their shopping behaviours, moods and needs. Not only will this information deliver more customer loyalty to the retailer but through targeted communication it will also give more value to the consumer. Everyone wins!
Consumers are rapidly evolving their shopping habits and using their mobiles to best effect in-store. Half of shoppers say they are already using their mobiles to look up product pricing while shopping in-store, and 45% of shoppers say they turn to product ratings and reviews over texting or calling their friends or family for advice.
These trends are pronounced and quickly gaining traction, and retailers that are slow to form strategies around micro-location, personalisation and other methods of creating a more engaging shopping experience for consumers will lose out.
As technology changes consumer behaviour, a smart, instant and ever-adapting adoption of technology by retailers will become the key driving force behind sales both in-store and online.
Tips for retailer success with wearable tech
- Provide shoppers with relevant information to stay ahead of competitors.
Reviews are key. People trust reviews and turn to them as a first port of call when making shopping decisions. Remember they need to be mobile-friendly for both mobile apps and websites, as well as useful in-store. Don’t just think about the online shopper, people use them while in-store too.
- Use data to offer a better online and in-store customer experience.
Consumers are willing to share their data, even their moods, if there is a real benefit to them. For retailers this means utilising data to better effect. Having a more granular view of how a customer behaves will enable more bespoke, relevant and targeted communications including offering treats, rewards and offers which are in sync with what individuals really want.
- Innovate and personalise information delivery.
Through a goldmine of demographics, transaction histories, social media engagement, and reviews, retailers have gotten smarter about how they reach out to shoppers. Beacons and other micro-location technology can help target further what content is served and when and where to serve it. If a retailer’s smartwatch app knows the consumer loves handbags, is in London, and is affluent, it might suggest a highly rated luxury handbag that’s on sale at a shop two streets away.
- Don’t wait.
Wearable tech is here to stay. The fast changing technology landscape affects everyone and a clever digital strategy is key to being part of this seismic shift. Consumers are already adopting wearable tech and they expect retailers and brands to do so as well.
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