The Apple Watch Could Revolutionize In-Store Campaigns

Targeted messaging, communication between shoppers and retailers, and gamification might be part of the near-future with Apple Watch.

Apple Watch DoneIndustry analysts and marketers have been speculating on what opportunities the Apple Watch might hold for brick-and-mortar retailers. Brands such as  Whole Foods, The Weather Channel, and Starwood Hotel have signed on as Apple Watch marketing partners, and the device will run Apple Pay at the 700,000-plus retail locations that accept it. Furthermore, Apple is working with Salesforce on developing marketing software and analytics to make Apple Watch more attractive to enterprise companies.

Still, there are still too many unknowns about how in-store campaigns will ultimately make use of the technology.

For the most part, it’s already clear that Apple is poised to change the game of wearables forever by bringing the concept to the broader mainstream and making them viable mediums for local marketers to target consumer.

Mike McMurray, SVP Marketing & Business Operations of mobile engagement platform Point Inside, foresees the gear revolutionizing the location-based shopping experience for retailers and consumers, and adding significant value in various ways. Marketers who haven’t prepared still have some time; the Apple Watch went on pre-order last Friday and sold out in six hours, pushing back shipment dates as far back as August.

Point Inside's Mike McMurray
Point Inside’s Mike McMurray

GeoMarketing: How can in-store campaigns tie in the Apple Watch?

Mike McMurray: One thing that retailers should be careful about is using the Watch and other wearables as another venue for spam. There’s no doubt that brands and retailers will use ads and coupons in their Apple Watch campaigns. Retailers should ensure these are contextual and relevant – like any other promotion. Using location, time of day, and other factors, retailers can create value-added experiences for shoppers.

How will the watch create new in-store micro-marketing and messaging campaigns?

The Apple Watch has the potential to enable new in-store marketing opportunities by using beacons to create a form of micro-communication between retailers and shoppers using a device that is always out and available. This enables improved real-time customer engagement and targeted messaging for retailers who seize the opportunity. The messages appearing on the watch will have to be brief, relevant and helpful to the shopper’s experience in order to be successful.

Could the watch gamify shopping? How?

The Apple Watch and other watches could be a noteworthy tool for shoppers if retailers choose to gamify the experience. Retailers could leverage the watch to design an interactive app or “game” where shoppers use product location and routing to find specific items in-store, earning shopping “points” along the way to redeem for rewards or beating their own high score for efficient shopping.

How could it create new contextual deals and recommendations?

As a new form factor, the watch can offer shoppers real-time access to additional information with no phone out (if done right), even if it’s just a micro bit of information, such as the aisle number of an item on their list. This not only brings more engagement, but also creates the opportunity for true, contextual deals and recommendations based on the watch always being on and out.

How could it optimize store productivity?

For employees who wear the watch, having their hands freed up increases efficiency. With two hands to grab and process items, the watch could help associates optimize fulfillment programs and streamline the shipping, pick-up and packing process. Store associates can also receive task notifications on the watch and alerts if a shopper needs help in a certain aisle, enabling more efficient customer service and employee productivity.