Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy confirms that smart, wearable technology is fast becoming mainstream.
“In the past week alone, I’ve heard about devices that can improve your tennis swing, improve your posture, sense your presence, and generate energy from walking — not to mention the new smart watches, handheld 3D printers that can draw bones, smart breathalyzers, and, of course (!) smart wigs,” Sheedy wrote in a recent blog post.
“These devices are starting to find their way into the hands of consumers, but much of the retail channel has yet to catch up. Smart locks, smart wearables, and smart fitness devices are all generally being sold through the traditional online and offline channels for electronics and devices; sports stores, clothing retailers, and home hardware stores have been slow on the uptake.”
According to Sheedy, the US has already seen some electronics retailers (such as Best Buy) significantly expand their “smart wearables” section from a small pod to an entire aisle or even a dedicated corner or section of the store. However, many sports stores have not even started carrying the latest fitness tracking devices — something that should be in their sweet spot.
“So what is the future for traditional retailers around smarter wearables? My guess is that they will continue to be pushed to the sidelines over the next two to three years; electronics retailers will prosper at their expense and innovation in wearables will continue to happen elsewhere,” he continued.
“But eventually the traditional clothing retailers will begin to consolidate and innovate. Some large brands will buy the smaller device startups; others will launch their own lines of smart wearable clothing or devices. A large proportion of today’s standalone wearables will be integrated into traditional products.”
Sheedy also emphasized that traditional retailers who to fail to embrace the shift to smart wearables will continue to see their value and market share erode. As such, CIOs in retail should attempt to leverage the data ecosystem of wearable technologies.
“How can the data collected at the device or wearable level perhaps be integrated into the loyalty systems, or help to guide the customer experience strategy? What other internal or external data sources which might, if integrated with your own data, actually create a better outcome for the customer? [Retailers] need to determine a way to make the wearable technology experience better if purchased from [their] stores,” the analyst concluded.