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Wearables Forecast for the Future of Retail

Wearables are an unfamiliar territory for some retailers.

The thought of tech-infused garments and accessories could be a new expenditure for the conventional brick-and-mortar brand, but the benefits are promising if handled with precaution.

“Technology and fashion are becoming closer aligned in every facit of our business,” Living In Digital Times founder Robin Raskin said at an NRF Big Show panel. “The tech side is ready to be fashionable.”

With store traffic on a decline and consumers pursuing e-tailers, retailers are struggling to boost their financial prosperity. Wearables could be the answer to foster interest on the sales floor. If apparel, for example, has the ability to detect heart rate or sleep patterns, shoppers are more likely to engage with that item over a standard product.

“Every single product you have is going to have some kind of functionality,” Smart Women Smart Ideas (SWSI) founder Heidi Lehmann said at the show. She added, “In the health space, the good news is that some of these devices are telling us more about ourselves but it also means it is collecting more data.”

Does the functionality come with a price? Yes, in some cases. If retailers are selling wearables it is likely that data involved is often publicly accessible. Retailers may want to explore privacy concerns more before venturing into wearable tech products. Although consumers may favor a wearable technology product, they may not be clear about the public information risks involved. Before jumping on the wearables bandwagon, retailers need to determine how shoppers’ information will be managed.

As traditional commerce gives way to digital practices, retailers are also challenged with the task of aligning in-store and online experiences. Wearables could bridge the gap between both mediums, because they incorporate digital aspects into consumers’ lifestyles.

“We have a passionate belief that every physical thing around us in our lives will come to shape in a digital form,”Everythng co-founder and chief marketing officer Andy Hobsbawm said at a presentation. He then asked, “How does this happen in a way that is profitable for businesses and brands and creates fabulous experiences for consumers?”

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Evrythng is a popular IoT smart products platform that provides retailers’ products with smart capabilities. This fall, the platform teamed up with designer Rochambeau to create smart jackets. A custom NFC chip and personalized QR code come in the left sleeve of each jacket. With smartphones, consumers can use their jacket to access curated experiences.

As shown with Everythng and Rochambeau’s jacket, wearables could bring great prosperity to retailers. Technology is no longer a myth in apparel. Despite privacy remaining an issue, wearables are retailer’s gateway to better sales and consumer loyalty in the future.