Wearable computers are coming and they'll change the way that customers interact with your brand, with each other and how they'll shop. But what could happen and how will you react to it?
Will you be reactionary? Or will you instead decide to embrace the technology into your business?
Already in Seattle there's a bar that's banned anyone who uses Google Glass from entering the premises in a bid to secure the privacy of his patrons – after all, nobody want's to be filmed, photographed or blogged about without prior permission.
On the flip-side, just look at how Disney have decided to embrace the technology already with their MyMagic+ technology for park patrons.
With the rise of Google Glass looking even more likely, along with Foxconn looking to produce wearable computing technology, as well as products such as Pebble on the market and the rumoured iWatch on the way customers will be interacting in entirely new ways.
Google Glass' recording features definitely contravene many store policies of forbidding recording inside their stores without prior permission – which many casino's are taking up issue with. Even Germany is considering banning the device as it breaks their surveillance laws quite explicitly.
But what are the benefits for businesses? How could you make the most of the future and prepare yourselves to embrace the technology sooner?
1. Augmented Reality
I've said it before, but now with Google Glass augmented reality is most certainly a possibility that you couldn't resist taking up.
Glass wearers could shop for all the products you have in your entire inventory. They would be able to pick up goods right off the shelf while also shopping in a virtual store located within your store to pick up the goods that they'll have to get delivered later.
It's a great way to revive the high-street store, and it melds online and in-store so perfectly without the need for NFC or those ungodly QR codes that have clearly come from the depths of hell.
It would also work wonders in other lines of business such as at networking events, having LinkedIn information readily available next to each person you see – saving the need to exchange business cards.
2. Engage and Capture Data
You can make the most of wearable computing by capturing data from it while a customer is in your store.
Offering them free WiFi – which is also faster than their 4G connection – without a password and pushing for a connection rather than them opting to connect to it means you'll see everything they are doing.
This means you can tell when someone is deciding to compare a price in your shop instead of buying it there and then.
It allows you to see what items are most sought after so you can ensure you have proportional stock levels in – after all, once an item sells out you can't be very sure just how many people actually still want it.
3. Interact With Your Customers
Unlike a smartphone which sits in a users pocket and is pulled out on a vague vibration – and then usually ignored if it's nothing more than a marketing email or text – interacting with a customer through wearable computing will cause a more instant reaction.
Fire over an email, text or push message as they enter or leave your store would mean that they'll receive a notification right in their face in Google Glass – rather hard to ignore. They could get a buzz on their wrist, only to see a discount code for a product they were unsure about getting or not.
It's the perfect way to grab their attention and keep them enthralled in what you're offering, ensuring you don't end up just having your email or text ignored.
4. NFC and Payments Will Be Seamless
You could make your POS far more attractive and streamlined thanks to the rise of wearable computers.
Customers would no longer have to wait in lines and wait for payments to go through slowly as servers interact with one another. They wouldn't need to be hassled by sales representatives – or â€˜customer assistants' as they've become known.
The store of the future would have self service checkouts – akin to those seen in supermarkets today – but they'd allow for a user to pay wirelessly via their Glass, NFC-enabled watch or phone in a matter of seconds.
These till points would also be far smarter than their current counterparts, which generally need to have someone watching over them like a vulture due to the raft of problems they always seem to have.
A user would just scan their products as they go, pay off the balance and leave the store – perhaps going via a security tag stall to validate purchases so clothing tags or alarms aren't triggered.
5. Improve the In-store Shopping Experience
You can improve a shopping experience for a customer by creating bigger, lighter and airier stores.
Because of wearable computers and an augmented reality environment, a store can be somewhere that isn't rammed with products, allowing for more space and potential for somewhere to â€˜hangout'.
Any stock you do have could be kept back of store instead of out front, allowing a customer to see a product on a shelf, use their wearable computing device to see what other stock you have in place before ordering it to a fitting room to really see how it looks and feels on them.
It's already being done with current technology, but future technology would make this far easier than it currently is, thus improving the store experience even more.