Wearables: the future of instore shopping

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Almost three-quarters of shoppers believe wearable technology will be the future of retail – revolutionising payments, making it easier to access product information, receive offers and navigate round a store, a survey by Vista Retail Support has found.

The poll, exploring consumer attitudes to wearable devices such as smartwatches, wristbands, fobs, stickers or smart clothing, found that 51% of shoppers believe these technologies will be commonplace in stores within two to five years. 

While the vast majority of shoppers (82%) view speed at the checkout as the main advantage of using wearable technology, 49% say it will improve their experience by allowing them to receive personalised offers when they are shopping.

“Wearable technology, such as the smartwatch, is going to change our in-store experience significantly,” said James Pepper, Vista Retail Support technical director. “The results show us that faster payments and product information sent directly to a piece of wearable technology, are the future of retail.

“This survey demonstrates that this is how shoppers expect the instore experience to develop and retailers need to prepare for it. They must have the right infrastructure in their stores so shoppers can use their wearable devices easily and securely.” 

However, the poll results also sounded a note of caution for retailers. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of shoppers said security fears might deter them from using wearable technology and 52% said they would be discouraged if only a few shops allow them to use it. 

Four in ten said concerns about privacy might dissuade them. Set against these concerns, only 11% are worried wearable devices might be too complicated to use.

Shoppers were also asked what they would use wearable technology to pay for. 73% chose public transport or a taxi, closely followed by drinks such as tea or coffee. More than half say they would use wearable devices to pay for fast food or entry to a venue.

“Consumers are far from conservative about wearable technology and will be hoping to use it if their concerns about security and privacy are allayed,” added Pepper. 

“They appreciate its versatility and can see how it will help them in many different retail environments. It is a technology that will become part of everyday life, making travelling, shopping, grabbing a bite to eat or having a coffee so much easier.”