You aren’t just a shopper these days, you’re a digitally empowered customer and the Apple Watch is going to revolutionize retail while also helping boost “a revival” of traditional offline stores, Retale CEO, Christian Gaiser told me.
Retale is a location-based mobile platform/app that acts as a connection between customers and the stores they use (I’ve written about such solutions before). Customers get to browse for good deals, find local stores, get discounts and much more. Retale’s Apple Watch app is the first/only app of this kind that’s going to be available the day the watch ships, promises Retale.
“While it is hard for some to conceive of mobile beyond phones, we are only at the tip of the iceberg in mobile technology and are committed to leading our category in these new opportunities,” said Retale President Pat Dermody in a press release.
Retale sees the Apple Watch as a significant driver for the evolving digital customer journey and will release its app soon after the Apple product ships next month.
Challenges of Apple Watch development
Gaiser explains some of what the company has learned while developing Apple Watch software: “The Apple Watch presents two fundamental challenges for developers – a new context for interaction and a very small screen,” he explained.
Apple Watch users aren’t expected to spend more than a few seconds glancing at their device (As explained: An Apple Watch User Guide). This means any interactions on the device must be distilled to their bare minimum.
“Within those constraints we decided not to bring the full user experience from our smartphone apps,” Gaiser explains, “only the relevant functionalities for the Watch, such as finding store locations, opening hours, directions or notification alerts. These functions will work best within the context of the Watch experience.”
Developers creating Apple Watch solutions will face some complexity as the device relies on the iPhone – this means developers will need to “micromanage and plan your rollout process, considering the interdependencies. Especially in bigger mobile companies with release cycles, this will have a vital impact on timing,” Gaiser said.
Putting it in context
The Apple Watch arrives as digital transformation really takes hold across every industry. At retail there’s ample evidence of this, from the iPads wielded by staff at veteran French electronics chain, Darty, to the abilty to pay for coffee at Starbucks with the tap of an iPhone.
Only those retailers who embrace this digital transformation will survive, while switched on customers will benefit from access to all the information they need to improve their shopping experience (and find better deals).
“Giving the consumer more choices will result in a revival of the offline shopping experience, especially with Apple's innovations like Apple Watch and Apple Pay,” said Gaiser.
Et tu, Beacons
Another technology, Beacons, is already impacting retail and other industries, and these too are likely to help the Apple Watch establish itself as a platform. In a discussion of the future impact of Beacons on the Apple Watch, Gaiser said:
“In the beginning, the impact will be pretty similar to that of the iPhone, as both devices are intertwined. So anything that works with the Point Of Sale has great potential, most notably Apple Pay, or apps that push research online and purchase offline, like Retale. This will spark a usability boost for Beacon technology over the long-term.”
“Should Apple, at some point, decide to release a Watch product that works as a standalone without phone dependency, then the impact of beacons would be even bigger.”
The retail industry stands at the digital crossroads, and the Apple smartwatch will help spring things forward. That’s just one of the industries the Apple wearable may help transform. We’ll learn more on this on March 9, and we will be providing all the news from the event as it happens.
Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?
Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.