Watch This Space

With Christmas fast approaching, we’re all reaching for our nearest device to browse, find and buy presents for our loved ones. This Christmas, there will be more tablets on the market than ever before, with the recent offerings from Tesco, Argos, Nokia and Microsoft – it’s fair to say that the 2013 device of choice has been a tablet, but what’s next?

Wearable devices
Could the answer be wearable technology? From the moment Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin stepped onto the subway revealing Google Glass for the first time, consumers have been hungry for a wearable smart device and in September, Samsung gave them one – the Galaxy Gear Smart watch.

For retailers, innovations like the Galaxy Gear and the roll out of universal 4G mean faster, more efficient and engaging ways to connect with consumers. Shoppers today want convenience, speed and choice – they want to shop anytime, anywhere, on any device and we all have to respond to how they shop.

The arrival of universal 4G to the UK economy alone has the potential to turbo-charge mobile retail spending, and that means an extra £1.8bn of consumer spending up for grabs, according to research from Conlumino. By offering customers a seamless retail experience and removing irritations, retailers boost their competitive advantage. More research from Conlumino shows how new technologies such as Augmented Reality, image recognition and GPS functionality could present a potential £2.4bn boost for the retail industry in the next few years.

Online payment
Methods of online payment are also evolving to make payment easier for shoppers. This year, PayPal has made it easier for Samsung Apps and Samsung Hub users to pay for their apps, music, movies, TV shows, e-books and games. Samsung Apps and Samsung Hub consumers can simply authenticate with PayPal to make a purchase. In a few seconds, they can start downloading their favourite TV show or book without the burden of entering their credit card or address information.

There’s a real opportunity for retail, and it’s come about because the boundaries between offline and online are blurring. Smart technology is changing the way we live our everyday lives and influencing the way we interact with brands and people.

A shopper’s journey increasingly involves a number of different touchpoints, both on and offline; it’s become less about location and more about consumer engagement.

More and more, retailers recognise the opportunity, and are embracing new technologies as a way to deeply engage their consumers through every channel available to them, from desktop, to tablet, mobile phone, Smart watch and of course in-store – underlining the importance of a beautifully-designed and cohesive retail environment, whatever the channel.

At eBay, our view is that taking an omnichannel approach to retail combines the best of online – efficiency, selection and value – with the best of offline, which includes the emotional and social experiences of shopping.

During a recent press conference in Berlin, we announced the launch of an eBay app developed specifically for the Galaxy Gear. The app is a completely unique user experience and is one of the first available apps on the Galaxy Gear. The app reinforces eBay’s commitment to being at the forefront of innovation in technology.

The question remains – will wearable technology catch on? Well, if the ABI research following the launch of Google Glasses at SXSW is accurate, there could be as many as 100m devices on the market by 2016. As ever though, only time will tell.

Olivier Ropars is senior director for EU mobile at eBay