Why The Apple Watch Is Important For Retailers

Everyone knows technology has changed the way we shop. Over the last decade, retail has moved from the shop floor to the computer screen, with 88 per cent of consumers stating they now use technology to shop.

However, the high street is fighting back; last Christmas we saw 56 per cent of online shoppers opting for in-store collection during the Christmas period, and now retailers must turn to wearable technology, in particular the Apple Watch, to engage with their customers to maximise both the online and instore experience.

Why the Apple Watch?

The Apple watch has been a huge success; following in the iPhone’s footsteps and kicking off a new era of smart technology. In July 2015 the BBC reported Apple had sold around three million watches in its first quarter, a fact supported by Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst for IDC,
who tweeted, “Whatever estimates you have for the Apple Watch, one thing is for sure: Apple sold more watches in 2Q15 than all other smartwatch vendors combined.”

The watch has not only sold well but it has been well received. A poll, by 451 research, found more than half of Apple Watch owners were “very satisfied”, with 49 per cent expressing notifications as their favourite feature. So how does this benefit retailers?

At home or in-store?

A recent Apptentive survey found 51 per cent of consumers who use retail mobile apps, use them while shopping in-store. Most imagine consumers are using retail mobile apps to shop at home, giving them the convenience to shop in their own time, but the sur vey has found
consumers are using them for a number of different reasons – such as redeeming in-store discounts, comparing prices, viewing product ratings and reviews, and finding products in store.

This is a revelation that gives retailers an unique opportunity to engage with customers at home, while also engaging with them in store. This opportunity is one that has been noted by forward thinking retailers who have turned to the Apple Watch to make in store engagement possible.

The device provides retailers the opportunity to engage with their tech savvy customers in a personal and direct way; with a number of key brands, such as M&S, Mothercare and Hollister, focusing their efforts on the new technology and pushing through their own application to ensure they’re part of the new trend.

Marks & Spencer

M&S has focused its Apple Watch app on the experience a customer receives when engaging with its Simple Food brand. Its Cook with M&S app, created by the M&S Digital Labs, takes the customer through every step of a recipe. From visiting the store to collect the ingredients, ticking items off the Apple Watch shopping list as you go; to getting your ingredients home and following your watch for step by step recipe instructions and timing information. It follows the pattern for success effectively. Brief but regular interaction with the user provides the best experience of the brand.
When the app went live, M&S saw a staggering 150,000 downloads in the first three months. The M&S Digital Labs team, stated in a recent quote from product developer Peter Wright, always ask itself how technology can improve customer experience; using consumer feedback to keep satisfaction high for the app users.

The process is simple

To understand how to best use the Apple Watch in retail, retailers need to understand how a consumer is using the device.

In essence it’s a convenience product. It has built on the functionality of the iPhone and allows information to be accessed without having your phone in hand or taking it in and out of your pocket or bag.

Therefore retailers must reconsider what information they include in an application. On an iPhone, an app can have a large amount of information. Usually users have time to browse and contemplate the information they’re given via the iPhone; scrolling through with your finger and scrolling back if something needs to be checked.

With the Apple Watch it’s a different process. Users don’t want to scroll through a lot of information, they simply want to glance at the device, interact briefly, and carry on with what they’re doing. If they wish to delve deeper they will use their iPhone, with its larger user friendly screen, to spend time considering the options.

9to5Mac state “The average Apple Watch owner interacts with their Watch 60-80 times a day, but most of that usage doesn’t involve anything more than looking at the watch face, checking the time and information displayed in the complications. The least common thing people do on the Watch is read emails.”

Retailers who understand this interaction have built their applications to follow one pattern; engaging with the consumer at brief intervals and guide them through their experience. Marks and Spencer’s is one such brand.


With the increase of mobile sales for Mothercare in the last financial year, 82 per cent of online traffic is now generated from its mobile applications. With this in mind, Mothercare is continuing to use mobile technology to improve customer service and engage with its users. The brand is in the perfect market to combine numerous functionalities into one mobile application, instead of concentrating on just a consumer shopping platform. Mothercare can now provide new parents with educational and medical content, as well as advice for families which can be accessible seven days a week, around the clock.

At this time of their lives, mothers and fathers are experiencing a lot of change and adapting to a new chapter in their lives. Having trusted information at the touch of a screen, which has been created by a trusted brand, has shown to become an invaluable tool to new parents, with Mothercare reporting a modest growth in global sales, up one per cent to £1.2 billion, with international now courting 62 per cent of worldwide sales.

Future role for retailers

We’ve seen a number of retailers effectively use Apple Watch applications to engage with the consumer. All of which have not considered the Apple Watch as the next iPhone, but a complement to what it can offer.

Brands such as Mothercare, M&S and Hollister lead the way in this evolution and opened themselves up to increased engagement with their customers on a convenient and unintrusive level.

Before the Apple Watch becomes mainstream, we must see more and more retailers adopting this approach and launching their own applications. The device will become key to the shopping experience and allow retailers to build a personal bond with their customers. In return, it will increase footfall for high street stores, as well as finding the balance between online and in store and increasing sales in the long term.


With jeans being created in all sizes, shapes, colours, lengths and styles, it can sometimes seem impossible to find the perfect pair. With its Watch application, Hollister has solved this issue by creating a jeans guide for its users within its app. The jeans guide will display the right fit for each style of jeans for every user. As well as this, users can swipe the image of the jeans to show both the front and back view to see exactly what they are buying.
Not only this, but the Hollister application also has a ‘So Cal Stylist,’ who will help users piece together the perfect outfit based on their unique lifestyle, providing a bespoke customer experience for each user.

About Black Pepper Software

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Black Pepper Software has an excellent reputation for developing high quality software solutions. We have produced first class results across a wide variety of industries, including education, finance, travel, retail, automotive, commodity trading and logistics. We work with both SMEs and Blue Chip organisations and pride ourselves on being able to deliver tailored solutions and consultancy on time and within budget.
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