It’s no secret that consumer interest in wearables is on the rise.

Take the smartwatch. When the Apple Watch became available for pre-order in April, 1.7 million people plunked down $349 and up for the chance to be among the first to own one, according to consumer research company Slice Intelligence.1

Indeed, though store shelves are lined with the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Motorola Moto 360, and 6.8 million smartwatches were sold last year, according to research firm Smartwatch Group, the Apple Watch holds particular promise.2 Approximately 15 million U.S. adults are projected to buy the first version of the Apple Watch, according to extrapolations from a Reuters/Ipsos poll.3

But does this mean you, as a business owner, should jump into the fray and integrate a wearables strategy?

“The payments environment is quickly evolving and offering new capabilities to consumers, allowing them to pay how they want, when they want,” said Amy Parsons, Vice President of Strategic Merchants and Global Product Solutions at Discover. “Now is a great time for merchants to evaluate their capabilities and consider the possibilities of emerging technologies, such as smartwatches and mobile devices, to enhance the retail environment and the payment process.”

For retailers and brands, wearables could be an opportunity to improve the customer experience and drive incremental revenue in the following ways:

Push Alerts

Because time-sensitive and location-based alerts may push to phones that are sitting in bags or pockets, they may be missed in the moment. Smartwatch alerts appear right on the user’s wrist and are not as easily missed. In an environment where attention is scarce, this could be a way to differentiate your offerings and drive additional sales, just by being seen more quickly.

Focus on Shortcuts

Smartwatch users love the quickness with which they can reach content from their wrists. Therefore, anything that can’t be read and understood in seconds should be avoided. Take a page from some on-demand taxi-hailing apps that let users order a car and see its wait time on the screen, or some travel-booking apps that alert users when it’s time to check-in to their room.

Consider which types of messages you would want to convey to your customers. While customers browse your store, longer communication around a new product may not be as effective as a quick pointer toward a specific sale. For example, you could send an alert offering 25% off a certain category of products, such as men’s clothing or kitchen appliances, to drive customers to make a purchase.

Pair With a Beacon

Some retailers might connect beacons located throughout their stores with smartwatches to expedite payments and allow customers to view video, product images, or product reviews and ratings while they are in-store.

Voice Commands

In the age of instant gratification, smartwatch users will expect to speak to their device. Apps with quick voice commands like “search,” “add-to-cart,” “save to wish list,” and “email to [friend]” will engage consumers and encourage them to more quickly make purchases and share word-of-mouth recommendations with friends.

Know Your Audience

Put demographics aside – this is more about your audience’s behavior and expectations. Do they use your smartphone app? Are they active on mobile? One well-known Mexican fast-casual restaurant chain’s app, for example, features a “burrito button” that allows customers to tailor their order with one press of the button. A luxury clothing boutique whose customers are going in for a different experience, such as buying a wedding dress, may benefit from a different type of communication.

Ultimately, the power of smartwatches lies in their ability to bring multi-functional capabilities to the right retail environments, and in so doing create a more personalized, frictionless shopping experience for your customers. The key step before implementing a sales strategy around wearables is to consider your customer base and their favorite ways to interact with you, and how wearables can enhance that experience. For merchants looking to create more personalized engagement with their audience, wearables can be a complementary part of your overall digital strategy, and should be utilized in order to offer real value to your customers.

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