How will wearables change the business-to-costumer relationship?

Technology

While 2015 will not be the year of wearables, in the same way that 2007 was not the year of smartphones, their arrival draws increasingly close, and businesses are already planning on ways to take advantage of this technology. We already pointed out in #TcTrends that this will be one of the main trends this year. According to the study by Market Forecast: Wearables Worldwide, 2014 – 2018, the number of wearables in use will rise from 29 million to 75 million devices in 2015, and up to 172 million by 2018. But, we cannot linger for too long in predictions, and rather, must think of the challenges that companies could face, at this time, in communicating with their consumers.

After smartphones, wearables are the new warhorses that marketing departments must attempt to defeat, if they want to be more effective in their communication. Again, as in all innovation processes, it is about being pioneers in the use of this new channel and taking risks to succeed.

At the moment, the first businesses to adopt the use of this technology are those whose services are related to physical activity, fitness and health. They have taken advantage of the information provided by these devices to carry out communication and loyalty programs with their customers, by offering them valuable content. For example, Nike is already working with a wearable similar to their Nike+ app, which would provide customers with information about their sporting performance. On the other hand, pharmaceutical companies and other health and wellness related businesses are also exploiting this technology, through bracelets that measure sleep; count calories; have diabetic controls; or even send users alerts to take their medication.

The wearables strategy should be directed by to an understanding of the consumer – what he needs and when he needs it. The key to this technology’s success lies in the good use of the information gathered. It allows you to gain access to consumer information that till now was, inaccessible, or very complicated to acquire. Wearables make it possible for companies to know a great deal about the consumer, from their physical activity to their tastes and interests. They are the perfect mechanism to provide 21st century companies with the possibility to take advantage of big data.

Personalization

Through information about the habits and lives of consumers, companies can customize their messages and offer better solutions to their customers. For example, customers’ day-to-day habits in terms of reading could help to advice companies on the best mode and timing of communication to be directed at them; and, in fact, readers could even be advised on sections of a piece of communication that they’d be most interested in.

With this technology, brands will be capable of sending even more personalized notifications, much closer to what their customers are interested in, as they will have a better understanding of their shopping preferences in terms of place, time and method. This mode of real time marketing provides offers with more specificity than remarketing. For example, your supermarket can send you a promotional offer for one of the products that you usually buy, at the exact moment that you leave work for the day, as they’ll know that you normally buy it in that time slot.

Product experience

The way that consumers relate to products at the point of sale is changing, and wearables can also contribute to this change. With as little as one click, and without having to take your smartphone out of your bag, the customer can take photos and videos of products and even directly seek the opinion of a friend that is on another shopping queue in the same store, and of course, compare with other similar products.

Also, some stores like Zara have already integrated barcode reading software into their applications, thus making it possible, at the flick of your wrist, to obtain more information about an item of clothing that you want. Additionally, stores can make virtual maps of their physical stores available to the user, in order to improve the customer journey.

New payment methods

Payment methods are becoming increasingly simplified, both online and offline; in fact, last year, Apple Pay began their own struggle for the customer trust. Wearables go a step further, and alongside NFC technology, will allow customers to pay in stores without having to take out their phones or wallets. Additionally, companies can request for more information from the user, for example, by sending a survey to their device, right at the moment of payment.

This not only applies to payment transactions, but also to the validation of travel and entry tickets, which can be done through wearable devices. Companies such as Renfe, Ticketea, Entradas.com, etc., have already adopted the use of applications like Passbook to increase the ease of use for their clients.

Company Productivity

Wearable technology also possesses the possibility of changing companies from within. A recent study showed that the use of these devices in the workplace could improve productivity by 8.5% and increase employee satisfaction by 3.5%.

But, how exactly can these devices help with workplace performance?

Employees have high-speed access to information, and for example, they can inform themselves on product availability instantly and notify clients immediately. These devices also improve the internal communication of a company by providing each individual employee with a real time connection to the rest of the company staff. Additionally, they can serve the purpose of tracking, and thus as a source information for the company in terms of knowing the activities of their employees within the company, their tasks, the time dedicated to them, or simply, their health. All these applications improve the productivity of companies with an immediate effect on the client experience.

Loyalty

Recently, we saw how some companies like VIPS are attempting to improve their loyalty programs through new digital trends, and thanks to the use of wearable technology by customers, they are now even more accessible to companies. The consumer no longer has to check their e-mails to delve into all the promotional offers that arrive every day, especially if they now receive notifications directly on their smart watches, at the exact moment when they need them. For example, a chain of restaurants that knows you usually order food deliveries on Tuesdays at 9PM can send a personalized promotional offer to your smart watch at that particular time. Or, without even going that far, your points-card is always with you on the device, removing the need for you to turn to your mobile phone or the physical points-card.

Yet, there is still a lot of skepticism on the part of consumers in adopting this technology, particularly with regards to privacy, the treatment of their information, and security. However, experts say that soon, consumers will adopt wearables, especially the smart watch. According to Forrester, in 2015, 25% of Americans plan to buy wearable technology, with the impending launch of the Apple Watch being a key element in the penetration of this technology in the market.

In short, some basic factors to consider, which will allow wearable devices to succeed and indeed change the business-to-consumer relationship include seeking to provide benefits for consumers, and understanding that they flee from massive impact. That is, to establish one’s presence, this must be done solely in the time and manner that consumers want, in the least intrusive way possible.

At Territorio creativo, we believe that this technology will change the way that consumers relate, not only with brands, but also amongst themselves. Companies must take advantage of customer information to improve the effectiveness of, and enrich their Social CRM strategies. It will be companies that will determine the success of these devices by seeking the benefits that they can provide for their consumers, and daring to innovate.

As indicated at the beginning of this post, 2015 will not be the year of wearables. But it is certainly the year to pose certain key questions to the impending spread of these devices: Will the launch of the Apple Watch be the final step for the penetration of wearables into the market? And, which companies will be first to take the initiative?

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