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Citi exec: Wearables’ success depends on simpler, faster experiences

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June 12, 2015

Apple Watch has brought the wearable conversation to the forefront

Apple Watch has brought the wearable conversation to the forefront

NEW YORK – A Citi executive at the Global Mobile Internet Conference New York 2015 revealed the best practices retailers should follow when entering the wearable space, including the importance of quick and painless features.

During the “The New Mobile? The 10 Commandments of Wearables” session, the executive gave guidelines for entering the wearable space with applications and urged developers to keep in mind this is not the mobile space but a new atmosphere all together. To make a wearable app effective it is important to consider a plan and develop what will work best for your brand.

“The challenge is we are all still discovering what it is about,” said Mr. Andres Wolberg-Stok, global head of emerging platforms and services at Citi Consumer Banking. “The question is, is wearables the new mobile?

“We are under a lot of pressure to find out because it is not just an interesting theoretical question, it is a very practical question for us, a business questions because we know that there is a very large number of people who are interested in wearables in order to have payments on their wrists” he said. “Having things on their wrists means we have to be ready because it is someone else’s credit card.”

“This is a really direct business challenge here in figuring out how to develop in wearables. It is also difficult when, as in this case, we are there at the birth of a new Apple device class with a device that nobody can see function. You are not really sure what people are going to want.”

New frontier
Now that the Apple Watch has launched, wearables are widely discussed and numerous brands are developing apps and services to fit the new demand. However, many brands do not know how to operate in this area yet.

It is vital for brands to research and be knowledgeable before taking this venture.

The first thing that a company should do before entering into wearables is to ensure that all decision makers are on board with this process. This field is new, currently evolving and not yet fully known, so any disconnect within a business will cause the brand to fail when developing into the platform.

Everyone a part of development should be in agreement on which functions should be available on its wearable app and which direction to take.

Another important detail is not to rely on simulators. Simulations are not reality and cannot produce unforeseen issues.

Reality is the only place in which developers can see how the app works and what problems have arose.

Another point to make is that brands cannot ignore other apps and brands in the wearable space. The screen is even smaller, which means there is more room for your brand to cause disruption in the user experience.

“Remember that it is about intimacy, it is about making sure you are using a wearable to communicate somehow that is truly personal, truly individual,” Mr. Wolberg-Stok said. “Not something generic, not something that you can see on a billboard or TV.

“It has to be about the user,” He said. “It is really important that you pay attention to things like formats, fonts, sizes, readability and operability. This is a really small surface.”

Brands should be careful of bombarding users with annoying notifications and a frustrating user experience, and think about what else may be going on in the device to make sure this will not happen.

Security through wearables is a huge facet of smart watch development. Consumers need to feel secure in order to purchase through an app and more and more retailers are becoming victims of hacking where customer credit information is being stolen.

You do not want to become apart of that list.

Smaller screen features
Create services and features on the app that helps customers and is significant to the wearable space. This is not mobile, so just recreating a mobile app on a smart watch app is not fruitful.

If there are parts of your retail app that are unnecessary, leave it out. The space is small so anything nonessential needs to be tossed away.

Features on the retail app should be quick and painless. The simpler and faster the experience, the better it will do on the wearable space.

No one wants to be holding up their arm for more than a few seconds. This coincides with the idea to design for the device, whether it is the Apple Watch or other smart watches, know what works best with each consumer behavior on each relative operating system.

Finally, keep in mind this is the most intimate platform yet. Retailer smart watch apps should have an intimate user experience.

“If you think back to the experience of going from online to mobile you will see that going from mobile to wearables is an adventure in itself,” Mr. Wolberg-Stok said. “It is an adventure and a rather enjoyable one for your customers and for your business as you embark on your journey into wearables.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Brielle Jaekel is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer, New York. Reach her at brielle@mobilemarketer.com.

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