Aug 27, 2015
Apple Watch and the Future of e-Commerce
Years ago, when mobile apps were first starting to be developed, no one believed that mobile shopping would take off. According to the skeptics, the screen was too small, it was too hard to enter payment and shipping information via an app, and consumers would never adopt the behavior. Yet, in 2012, people spent $25 billion on purchases made from phones and tablets, a figure that was up a whopping 81% from 2011. And now, in 2015, that number is sure to be much larger. But a new player was just introduced — the Apple Watch.
With a much smaller screen and a strong learning curve (according to early reports), will consumers start shopping on their Apple Watch as quickly as they did on their mobile phones? If so, what will companies have to do to make the experience as seamless as possible?
When the Apple Watch first debuted and started shipping in April, more than 3,000 of the apps were from retailers, including major players like Target, Amazon, and Zulily. On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense for consumers to be able to shop from their Apple Watches. The major benefit is how easily accessible the shopping experience becomes on the Apple Watch. With the watch constantly on you at all times, you can quickly just glance down at your wrist and find what you’re looking for. Similarly, companies like eBay can send you notifications when you’ve been outbid or when your auction is about to close. This eliminates having to look at your phone all the time for fear of losing out on the coveted item that you’re bidding on.
However, the biggest barrier to a true shopping experience on the Apple Watch is discovery. The screen is simply too small for consumers to comfortably sift through inventory and browse for new items. Discovery has always been a challenge in e-commerce and retailers are constantly trying to figure out how to better the process and make it easier for customers to easily find the items that they’re most likely to purchase — something that’s especially hard when you have literally thousands of items to choose from on any given website.
If retailers are going to succeed on the Apple Watch, they will need to optimize the experience to maximize the benefits of shopping on such a tiny, yet very accessible device. Notifications about items in your cart going on sale, or popular items getting close to being sold out could be ways in which companies could utilize the watch. They also need to make the shipping and payment experience as seamless as possible. Perhaps the watch will be able to use biosensing technology to identify the wearer of the watch, and the user will have his or her credit card information stored in the watch, so with a quick “tap” on the watch, payment and shipping info can easily be entered.
It’s unclear yet how consumers will start to use the Apple Watch for shopping, but what is clear is that retailers will have to pay close attention to user behavior and how the UX can be optimized for shopping. It will be fascinating to keep an eye on the number of transactions that are placed through the Apple Watch and how companies will continue to evolve to fit user demand.
What do you think — will shopping on the Apple Watch really take off?