High street retailers must prepare for rise of wearable tech to compete with online, says YouGov

As wearable technology becomes mainstream, bricks and mortar retailers must come together to solve basic issues such as where items are placed in-store if they are to compete with online-only players, according to YouGov.

Russell Feldman, director at YouGov, described wearables as "an odd beast" in that they are both high-tech versions of existing wares but also an emerging distinct category.

"As wearables increase their scope to include the likes of rings, jewellery and accessories, retailers will have to answer a simple question: where should they put them in the shop?” he said.

“Do smartwatches sit along consumer technology or alongside the timepieces? Do fitness bands go in the sports section or in a special wearables one? Unless these questions can be answered definitively and in a unified way across retailers, consumers could end up shunning bricks and mortar retailers out of sheer confusion.”

His comments came on the back of YouGov research which polled 2,898 UK adults and found that 62 per cent of current wearable owners bought their device online, with Amazon the biggest purchase destination (31 per cent). John Lewis (five per cent), eBay (five per cent) and Currys/PC World (three per cent) followed.

Of the 72 per cent of owners that researched devices, just 16 per cent went into a store to physically try the product before buying.

The figures change for those yet to buy. Over half (56 per cent) said they will buy online and of those that will research the product before buying, 47 per cent plan to go into a store to find out about the device.

Feldman said high street retailers need to better promote themselves when it comes to stock and position themselves as a destination for wearables if they want to compete against online retailers.

“Although we are likely to see many consumers grazing in-store and then purchasing online, were retailers to be better at showcasing these devices to consumers it is likely they would at least increase their share of this new lucrative market before it slips away from them completely,” he added.

The research comes ahead of the consumer launch of the Apple Watch.

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