When Apple announced the launch of the Apple Watch in April, the tech behemoth set the world abuzz. KGI Securities estimates that Apple will have sold over 2.3 million pre-orders of the Watch by June. That is more than double what Pebble (around a million), and more than triple what Android Wear (around 720,000), has sold to date.
It’s less obvious how the Apple Watch will affect brands and consumers. Similar to previous first generation product launches, like the iPod and iPhone, the Apple Watch will likely improve dramatically in its second iteration. Nonetheless, if you experiment with the Watch earlier than your competitors, you can better understand how to connect with consumers through this new medium. Let’s explore what the Watch will be capable of, and how ecommerce companies can take advantage of these new capabilities.
Related: Can the Apple Watch Win the Wrist?
Forget apps, the future lies in notifications.
When the iPhone hit the market seven years ago, the die was cast for brands and marketers to create the killer app for their customers. Today we have a ton of apps all fighting for the same small amount of real estate on user’s home screens. Instead of investing time and money in one customer touchpoint like an app, marketers should focus on how to message their customers on all customer touchpoints, including mobile, tablet and now, wearables.
Andrew Chen, an entrepreneur and investor in startups including Product Hunt, Dropbox, and AngelList, has speculated that the key to the new Apple Watch lies in notifications.
“One of the biggest takeaways in reading through the HIG (Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines) is the prominence of the notifications UI,'' he said. "Although you might find yourself idly swiping through the Glances UI to see what’s going on, it seems most likely that one of the most common interactions is to get a notification, check it on your watch, and then take action from there. This will be the core of many engagement loops.”
With the Watch, Apple has made it very clear that ecommerce marketers have 10 seconds or less to interact with their customers. This means the focus, and challenge, must be on relevant interactions that provide customers value in mere seconds.
For example, according to AdWeek, Starwood Hotels’ watch app will unlock hotel doors for guests. CNN’s app will pull in bite-sized chunks of breaking news. Facebook and Twitter plan to make it easier to share photos.
The major players are stepping into the ring.
Major etailers including eBay, Amazon and Target already have live apps in the Apple Watch app store, betting that consumers will want to interact with their brands on an even smaller screen.
David Cheng, director of mobile products at eBay told The Street, “eBay's goal is to facilitate shopping whenever and wherever — on their desk, in their pocket, or even on their wrist. The eBay for Apple Watch app will be another step forward in driving our vision to deliver frictionless commerce by bringing simplicity while maintaining utility.”
But browsing and bookmarking may be even more prevalent on the Apple Watch than actually buying and selling. Daily deal ecommerce site Zulily has made a bet on this with a Watch app that lets their users browse deals on their watch and bookmark them to check them out later on their phone or laptop. Jason Carter, Zulily director of webstore experience, said about their app, “Our Apple Watch app allows our customers to quickly sift through the hundred-plus events we have every day, tap on the ones that interest them the most, automatically sorting them to the top of their iPhone app. In short, it's an incredibly simple way to make shopping [Zulily] more personal."
Shopify has already created an Apple Watch app for their ecommerce stores, which will let you know every time you receive an order with a buzz of your wrist. You can also track the most important data from your store, like order volume and sales data, without going to your phone or laptop. For ecommerce store owners who are constantly checking their phone for their store metrics, Shopify’s app is looking to be a convenient way to stay in the loop without getting distracted throughout the day.
Whether it’s Target creating an Apple Watch app to store their customer’s shopping lists and buzz them when they approach a product on their list, or Chipotle’s Burrito Button Watch app, customer interactions on wearables like the Apple Watch will be unique to the platform. Marketers have to think out of the box. Focusing on context-driven, targeted notifications that provide value to customers is the first place to start, and the best way to get a step ahead of your competition.