by Shawn Adamek, Chief Commercial Officer

To date, smart wearable growth has largely been driven by consumer markets. But at Turnpike we believe there is massive untapped potential for wearables targeted at enterprise use cases. In fact, wearables are unmatched at performing specific tasks that are critical to day-to-day operations in a number of vertical markets.

Retail industries, whether fashion, home improvement, or grocery have been investing heavily in technology to make their stores more intelligent, attempting to empower their employees with new digital tools. However, some of these technologies, whether new or existing, often fall short.

For instance, let’s take a look at walkie talkies. While a great single-use device for communication, these devices are not inexpensive, ranging from about US$100 up to $600 for more capable units. They are typically larger than a mobile phone, can’t be put in a pocket, and require speaker conversations that disrupt the retail shopping experience.

Mobile phones are a great replacement for walkie talkies if an enterprise is willing to make an even larger investment, especially with monthly wireless fees included. However, many employers don’t want to expose themselves to the security risks associated with open platform devices running on their networks.Others simply don’t want their employees distracted (or appearing distracted) on the store floor when they should be engaging with customers.

VoIP headsets can be a good alternative. They allow for real-time complex communication and generally keep hands free. However, many earpiece options are connected by dangling cables which tend to break easily in high movement environments. Bluetooth headsets are available, but are often pricey, and need to be charged frequently. Both wired and wireless in-ear options have obvious cleanliness issues if the devices are meant to be shared between employees.

Old fashioned in-store communication devices like land line phones and loudspeakers work fine for quick requests or alerts, but don’t do much for stores trying to establish a pleasant, branded shopping experience.

Simply put, no one enjoys the loud, fuzzy “clean up on aisle 5” announcement in the grocery store.

Wearables, and in particular smart watches, may not solve every communication challenge in the retail environment. However, they are particularly effective at addressing issues that most of these other technologies do not excel at. Smart watches keep employees’ hands and heads free, which is great for safety. They also reduce the risk of device droppage to nearly zero since employees don’t need to take them in and out of their pockets multiple times per day. From a cost perspective, smartwatches can be a fraction of the price of most mobile phones.

Smart watches are great for communicating and responding in real-time to simple requests, alerts and messages without disturbing the retail shopping experience. They also don’t require complex long-in procedures like larger screen devices that enter deep sleep mode to save on battery life.

In shopping environments where noise is either undesirable, or the noise level is too high to reasonably communicate with voice, smartwatches are a perfect alternative by enabling silent, efficient communication.

But of course, if voice capability is desired, many smartwatches have that capability as well.

To summarize, wearables excel in retail environments where real-time, efficient, simple communication is paramount. When employers don’t want their staff disrupting the shopping experience with loud conversation, or appearing distracted while operating other devices, connected wearable devices are hard to beat. To find out more about how Turnpike is enabling connected wearable communication, contact us at https://www.turnpikegroup.com/get-in-touch.