While wearable technology once resembled the type of far-fetched science fiction fit only for movies, the market for wearables emerged strongly in 2015 and seems poised for more success and innovative advances in the New Year.
While some products, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, have been more successful than others, wearable technology seems destined to permeate our everyday lives. And, while may devices seem to have a specific niche – health and fitness, productivity, or entertainment – wearables, like so many new technologies before them, offer great potential for businesses.
Small businesses are no exception. In fact, small businesses may be especially well positioned to benefit from this unique technology. Specifically, four features of wearable technology can help small businesses grow.
1. Attract Larger Audience
Businesses with existing mobile- and web-based products and services see wearable technology as a means of extending their reach. Wearables facilitate this process in two ways.
First, wearable platforms – either devices or applications – enable users to access a company's content, products, and services in many different ways. A consumer may research a product on the company's website, use a mobile app to check prices or do more research on the go, and receive location-based notifications from a smartwatch. Greater access to a company's services in turn habituates a customer to the brand.
Second, expanding to a wearable platform grants a business another way to enhance the customer's experience.
For example, the health and wellness company, Lose It launched a mobile platform in 2008, with the goal of helping users lose weight. When wearables entered the scene, the company expanded its application-based offerings to smartwatches and various fitness platforms, such as Apple Watch, Fitbit, Runkeeper, and Strava, to name a few.
Lose It's decision to embrace wearable technology arose from a desire to expand the support and capabilities it offered.
“We wanted to provide people with a more holistic view of their overall digital health. … Weight loss is not as simple as counting calories. … If using Lose It was a chore, people wouldn't adopt it as a part of their daily routine.” – Charles Teague, founder and CEO, Lose It
2. Bolster Brand Loyalty
What better way to stay on your customer's mind than by being tethered to her wrist?
Wearables' proximity to the body allows a business to close the physical gap between its product and the consumer. The closeness fosters an intimacy that increases the likelihood of the consumer embracing the brand wholeheartedly.
First, smartwatches make it difficult for users to ignore notifications and reminders. Location-based notifications that trigger a tapping sensation on the wrist put a brand on the wearer's mind.
Second, wearable applications that augment the user's experience promote brand loyalty. For example, while Canada-based restaurant chain, PizzaPizza allows customers to order pizzas in-house, online, over the phone, or from a tablet or mobile phone, its wearable application adds an element of fun to the pizza-ordering process. The delivery countdown makes waiting for your dinner a game, and the customized quick menu appeals to pizza lovers who order the same toppings every time.
3. Increase Operational Efficiency
Technology has long been a boon to business efficiency, and wearable technology shows great promise for improving productivity on both the individual and enterprise levels. Both productivity and job satisfaction levels increase when employees use wearable technology, according to new research about the impact of wearables in the workplace.
A variety of wearable applications aspire to aid productivity. For example, application design and development company, Tarasov Mobile, creator of the mobile and wearable application, Chaos Control, aims to help individuals prioritize tasks. Designed based on the Getting Things Done methodology by David Allen, Chaos Control's mobile platform allows users to set personal goals, record tasks, and manage schedules, while the wearable application focuses on due dates and task lists only.
Another example is the MyCalendar application Stanfy designed for the Pebble watch. The application syncs with Google Calendar and allows users to access their schedules with a simple glance down.
4. New Business Opportunities Arise From Access to Contextualized Data
Giving the data collected by wearables meaning and context is key to facilitating the overall acceptance and ongoing use of the new technology.
For example, in the health sector, pairing two disparate data points can demonstrate an individual's level of health and alert her to warning signs, according to Sean Mehra, head of product at HealthTap.
“If a single metric … goes up and down naturally throughout the day, it doesn't provide any meaning to your doctor. But, if you are tackling your heart rate in the context of your activity, all of a sudden, a doctor can see that your heart rate increases, even while you are sedentary. This becomes meaningful.” – Sean Mehra
An emerging technology, wearables have the potential to enhance our lives in meaningful ways. As the number of users increase and the technology becomes more popular and accepted in mainstream society, wearables surely will have a large-scale effect on businesses.
What role can wearable technology play in your small business' growth plan?