Wearable technology in retail

Bank of America subsidiary MBNA has produced research into what retailers should be doing to prepare for a ‘wearable payments explosion’. 72% of consumers believe wearables are the future of in-store shopping, according to a survey from Vista Retail Support . Android and Fitbit are soon to be introducing payments to their fitness bands. Wearables that make contactless payments are set to be big in the next few years.

MBNA spoke to Kirstin Smith, Head of Fashion and Retail at Valtech – a digital agency that engineers consumer experiences for businesses, and James Pepper, Technical Services Director at Vista Retail Support – an IT and support organisation for retail businesses. They came up with some tips for retailers looking more closely at the area.

1.Track your average basket size for contactless payments

Offering wearable payments might not be a priority for all businesses but retailers have to stay ahead of competition and offer contactless payments especially if their average basket size is under £30 claims James Pepper

2.Think about software that surpasses the contactless transaction cap

Research by Vista, shows many consumers would like to see an increase in the contactless payment limit, with 70% believing the £30 transaction cap is too low.

Apple Pay uses a new type of payment verification on the latest iPhones and Apple watches that allows the contactless cap to be lifted, provided that in-store payment terminals support it. So a customer who chooses an Apple watch as their wearable could harness more contactless payment power than a card user.

3.Educate customers about how you use wearables

Retailers can let customers know that they accept contactless payment methods like Apple pay.

4.More than just payments

Kirstin points out: “Retailers are still figuring out how to incorporate wearable tech into their customer journeys in a way that really makes sense for customers and for them. Those who find success will have worked hard to understand their end-to-end customer experience and how customers are really behaving. They will then have figured out which parts of that journey could be enhanced by wearables.”

5.Keep track of trends in retail experience

Keeping on top of new trends in wearable technology and retail innovation is key for all businesses. Identifying customers, viewing there purchase history and pushing out marketing information as beacons do already but extend this out to wearables. It’s a big opportunity for retailers to manage their inventory and interact with customers.

6.Watch out for the tipping point

Wearables are here to stay. Retailers might not need to implement complex infrastructure to support a full in-store wearable experience just yet, but they should certainly start thinking about their customers’ purchase behaviour and possible solutions to leverage wearables beyond payments in the near future.