STORES Magazine - April 2015 - (Page 28)

n Sponsored by MOBILE / WEARABLES IT'S ALL CONNECTED A rising interest in wearable technology could add a twist to retailers' mobile strategy by M.V. GREENE R esearch showing acute interest in wearable technology applications for payments and other store functions among U.S. smartphone users is promising to bring added urgency to retailers' evolving mobile initiatives. The wearable computing market was expected to ship some 19.2 million units worldwide in 2014; by 2018, IDC forecasts the market will grow to 111.9 million units. 28 STORES April 2015 Wearable technology, considered a sub-segment of the emerging "connected technology" category, is buttressed by the whole notion of the Internet of Things. For decades, experimenting tech companies have been touting the concept of wearables as a more mobile adjunct to laptops. Today, wearables constitute a slew of electronically engineered gadgets that operate independently or sync with other connected devices: eyeglasses, wristwatches and wristbands, jewelry, digital payment cards or cameras. Wearables to gauge fitness and monitor health have already made inroads with consumers. Additionally, with an inherent connection to the body, wearables are increasingly being designed with fashion in mind, thus increasing interest in "smart" clothing. PAYMENT DEVICE How hot is the interest? An October 2014 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers puts the wearable device adoption rate on par with the meteoric rise of tablet use in 2012: 83 percent of respondents in "The Wearable Future" cited simplification and improved ease of technology as a key benefit of wearable technology. For retailers, the question is not whether wearables will be in play in the retail store environment, but how they will be deployed and for what purposes. "The real op- portunity for wearables in retail is delivering a differentiated service or an experience," says Emilia Palaveeva, chief marketing and engagement officer at technology product design and development firm Artefact. "The opportunity is to imagine, design and build devices, apps and services that align with your brand as well as this new [wearables] form factor." A tap-and-pay bracelet for use in stores and a smart locket that connects to users' social media networks are two designs on Artefact's drawing board. Such approaches, particularly for payment, employ near field communication technology. While the installed base of NFC-enabled readers at retail points of sale is minimal today, observers say the availability of NFC technology for wearables promises to drive the category. Interest in wearables is particularly strong among the growing base of smartphone users - notably in the coveted Millennial demographic. A January study from Stratos, a company that develops mobile payment systems, found that nearly one-third of 400 U.S. smartphone owners surveyed said they already owned a wearable device. Overall, 75 percent of the survey's respondents said they intended to purchase a wearable device. Thiago Olson, Stratos co-founder and CEO, notes that respondents also expressed great interest in using wearable devices for making payments at retail. Olson says the study results debunk some of the expectation that smartphones alone will be the primary conduit for NRF.COM/STORES http://www.NRF.COM/STORES

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - April 2015

A Most Complex Game
It's All Connected
Retail People
Selling Satisfaction
Editor's Page
President's Page
Retail Politics
NRF News
NRF Communities Update
End Cap
Business Operations
Online Fraud

STORES Magazine - April 2015