In recent months, bricks and mortar retailers awoke to the fact that the preferred mode of consumers' shopping preferences shifted toward online for its convenience and perceived value. Wearable technology and its promise to offer customized, context-driven in-store experiences, however, may serve as the answer retailers need to the question of how to keep people shopping in stores.
PowerReviews' recent "Mobile, Wearable Tech and Hyper-Relevance: Transforming Consumer Behavior and Retailer Opportunities" report explores current consumer use of mobile and wearable technologies in the context of in-store engagement. The study, which polled 1,021 U.S. consumers, notes that digital adoption now enables consumers to seek the same product and service information available via their online shopping experience from their mobile device while in-store, thereby providing brick-and-mortar retailers with new ways to connect with shoppers in real time and gain the competitive advantage.
The following statistics highlight the current state of mobile and wearable tech adoption, consumers' willingness to embrace these new tools, and emerging opportunities for increased in-store engagement:
- Overall, 91 percent of in-store and online shoppers already use mobile or wearable technology to aid their decisions, while 70 percent would like access to product ratings and reviews while in-store.
- While nearly 30 percent of those polled already own or plan to purchase a smart watch, smart glasses, or a fitness tracker within the next 12 months, 21 percent welcome the addition of new technology innovations.
- Consumers currently use their mobile devices in-store to research prices (55 percent), find product ratings and reviews (54 percent), and call or text friends and family to seek guidance (50 percent).
- Eighty-two percent of shoppers want technology that enhances the customer experience, 49 percent want technology that saves them time while shopping, and 34 want wearable devices that simply make life easier.
- Most consumers want wearable devices to remind them of special events, such as birthdays and holidays (28 percent), and alert them when store lines are long so they may shop later (25 percent).
- Consumers are increasingly interested in wearables that allow them to complete purchases via touchless or one-click payments (22 percent) and interactive maps that enable easy in-store navigation (20 percent).
- Twenty-one percent of shoppers are open to push notifications if these alerts help them make the right purchase decision, save them money, or improve the customer experience. However, only 31 percent are willing to share personal data (i.e. fitness metrics, location, purchase history) with retailers.
- Shoppers primarily seek product reviews in-store when it comes to electronics (84 percent), appliances (68 percent), and computers (60 percent), with most wanting to access this information through the retailer's mobile website (54 percent), the retailer's mobile app (21 percent), or in-store digital displays (17 percent).
Key takeaway: Technology continues to transform consumer behaviors, and retailers must rise to the occasion and meet changing demands. Researchers note that, by embracing wearable technologies retailers can unveil a new "window of truth" that will allow them to collect improved insights, thereby enabling retailers to deliver relevant, targeted communications that boost customer loyalty. Thus, brands must demonstrate the benefits of data sharing by disseminating offers that provide added value. If consumers can easily access the information they seek at the moment they need it, brands are more likely to convert shoppers and avoid churn. Ultimately, retailers cannot delay integration any longer, for consumer expectations indicate that those who stall strategy development will fall behind the rest of the retail industry and compromise their competitive advantage.