Future of Wearable Tech Sales: Will the Last Three Feet Kill Yours?

by Brian Conley

Are wearable tech sales impacted more by you or your sales associates?

Recently reporting on growth in the wearable tech industry, research firm Tractica provided that “annual worldwide revenue from enterprise wearables will reach $6.3 billion by 2020, up from $218 million in 2015.” As an industry that basically started from zero in 2013, the future of wearable tech sales seems guaranteed.

Future of wearable tech for women

Yet fitness wearables are a complicated product field. Tractica’s study further reports, “Companies in a variety of sectors are working through challenges related to technology selection, software customization, user experience, reporting capabilities, and integration with existing IT systems.”                              

Whether your niche is selling Fitbits, heart rate monitors, digital pedometers, sports tracking watches, or all of the above, your products are not easily understood right out of the box. The packaging is important of course, but your end user will not be able to make a purchase decision by simply reading about it on the outside of the box.

Your products need to be matched to the consumer’s needs, and consultatively sold. Will that last three feet of the sales process be successful?

Gaps in current sales strategies

How are you going to impact consumers’ thoughts at the last 3 feet? And more importantly – what will happen if you don’t? Gaps in today’s sales strategies that negatively impact the sale include:

  • Unassisted sales that leave retail customers alone to read the box and “buy” the product by themselves, wondering “How do I use this product correctly?”
  • Lack of a lifestyle attachment provided for them to the product; not qualifying whether the product meets their needs or if they understand it.
  • Lack of value differentiation. If you don’t have a knowledgeable field associate who can fully explain to a consumer the features and benefits of your product, then more than likely you’ll lose the sale to a lower-cost provider.

Future of mens wearable tech sales

How to close gaps in your future of wearable tech sales

1)    Make sure consumers get more help than just from directions on the box

If you’re leaving a consumer alone to read the box, and they try to understand how to use the product solely by reading about it on the box, the likelihood of disappointment is fairly high:

  •   They’ll take it home
  •   They won’t be able to figure it out
  •   They’ll return it

When the product is complicated, the end user cannot understand it thoroughly without guidance. You need to deploy expert field sales reps in the retail locations who are trained to tell your product’s story.

2) Qualify that their lifestyle needs match the product

You need to qualify each consumer’s needs separately. Have sales associates in the store who are prepared to do in-store demos of the product features.

They should also be able to set up each product correctly while the consumer is still in the store. For the best consumer experiences, and to reduce returns, every product should “walk out working.”

If there’s a retail sales associate on hand who’s knowledgeable about the product and all of its features, they will determine each consumer’s needs and right-fit them with the right product.

3) Show how your product differentiates

Left alone, a consumer is going to assume that all of the products they see in this section of the store are basically the same, except for maybe the price. If you’re the manufacturer, knowledgeable sales associates on the floor are the only ones who can differentiate your product from the competition.

When a sales associate is uninformed, or under-informed, they may not take the time to learn much about the product. They may feel confident enough to tell customers, “Oh, they’re pretty much all the same, so you might just be best off taking the cheapest one.”

Could this happen to you?

According to an Adobe content study, September 2015, nearly four in ten Millennials do not confirm accuracy or appropriateness of content before they share it.

Can that attitude translate into how some of today’s sales associates talk about products? Likely.

What kills “the last 3 feet”

In a typical example, your product might be $150, while another product beside it is $110, and to the consumer, they both look like they do the same things.

When they look around and see all of the brands on the shelf seem to look alike, the average consumer is then going to think, “Why would I spend 40 bucks more to get the same product?”

What they don’t understand is the possibility for product disappointment.

You want it explained, for example, that the other product doesn’t tie into their existing phone so they can’t measure their steps on their phone… or maybe that another product doesn’t include a heart monitor to measure their heartbeats while they work out.

Multiple things about a product, its features, how it’s made, or its warranty, etc., will influence a consumer when they are made aware of it. Are you making consumers aware of your differentiators?

Suppose Brand A launches a hand-held fitness wearable model, and they also launch “Uh Oh protection” for it, with built-in assurance that if something goes wrong, they’ll replace their product with no questions asked.

If a consumer were to buy a slightly less-expensive competitor brand, and then drop it and crack the screen, he would probably have to pay $150 to get it repaired properly. However, if a consumer of Brand A dropped and cracked their model, they’d get a brand new replacement model because of that protection plan.

The two products might cost nearly the same thing to begin with, but if the retail sales associate on the floor at the last 3 feet of the sale is not knowledgeable about benefits like that protection plan, they would probably advise their customers to go with the less-expensive brand based only on cost.

It’s hard to estimate the impact to the customer experience of having an un-educated sales force…

Benefits to future sales

If you want to have an impact with your wearable fitness products, whether in Q4 for the holiday season or the rest of year’s gift-sales seasons, you need to ensure that your sales associates fully understand the features and benefits of your products, and that they are prepared, in turn, to qualify and educate the consumers.

  • Consumers want a good experience, and they deserve getting home with the product they needed, working the way it is intended.
  • Retailers can increase their future sales of wearable tech products, and reduce costs of having returns, by providing the best buyer experience possible.
  • Manufacturers who have their products differentiated from competitors’ products will see an increase in future market share.

Strong sales of complicated products like tech wearables may not be possible without feet on the street or a personal interaction with the consumer where associates have the opportunity to explain features and benefits.

Having an educated retail sales associate representing your product is a better value in the long run for the consumer, and more profitable for the retailer and the OEM.

Having a strong field presence can save the future of your wearable tech sales in that last 3 feet.

Find out more about MarketSource’s educated field resources for your wearable tech product sales by talking with one of our outsourced sales concierges today. We are an integrated sales solutions provider.

Topic: Retail

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Conley has consulted for more than two decades with Fortune 500/1000 companies developing enterprise sales strategies and helping clients navigate the complex retail environment. His expertise in the Consumer Electronics and Tech industries includes value selling, retail strategy and implementation, sales operations, field execution, and process improvement.

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