ZOMBIES, RUN!!!

With mixed reviews surfacing about the Apple Watch, we take a look at how the company is prepping the gadget for a tough battle. Plus – visit Google’s first UK retail store and discover how digital natives are affecting the payment landscape.

Run! The zombies are coming! Your morning jog is about to get a lot more fun as Six to Start plans to launch their popular fitness games, including Zombies, Run!, for the Apple Watch. My favourite product of theirs is actually slightly calmer – TheWalkGame.com (funded by the UK Department of Health). This starts with a bomb going off in Inverness and your challenge is to walk the length of the UK in order to stay alive. Phew! Just a glance at the watch screen unlocks each set of instructions needed to help your team win. No more boring counting calories!

Geek chic Apple is the latest brand to buck the sad UK trend for zero hours and zero staff training – they’ve created a great new program for their retail assistants in advance of the Apple Watch launch on 24th April. Angela Ahrendt (Apple Sales VP) dreamed up a fascinating customer journey for those who want to explore the watch in-store. Using tablets, videos, and live-streamed talks by app and game designers, Apple staff will have daily training not just on tech but also on fashion advice (!), so they can pick the best watch combination for everyone. Geeks helping with the latest SS15 looks? It’s a first!

Google play! Another wave of closures (Post Office) and branch shrinkage (Lloyds) has left the UK high streets more empty than usual. But here’s another US tech company to the rescue with the launch of Google’s first retail store on Tottenham Court Road in London! A more low-key affair than Apple, but still an innovative format with the interior based on Scandinavian retail designs. Two more stores will be rolled out shortly, with an emphasis on well trained staff, interactive demos, a Moto 360 station, and (the best part) a theatre with doodling screens where you can create virtual graffiti and check out their sponsored artist gallery!

Bricks-and-clicks? More like taps-and-clicks! Amazon and eBay have figured out that one-click and auction alerts will work well with the Apple Watch. We like the notification that your parcel is in transit, and the confirmation of receipt if you have returned something. Bricks-and-clicks retailers are also developing solutions to enable a digital stream of offers to be activated by just a tap on the smartwatch by shoppers in-store! Your wrist has just become very valuable retail real estate.

Money (that’s what we want) As new device rollouts bring more changes in the way we pay for stuff, a new study shows that 54% of digital natives (or millennials, if you prefer) are already paying for purchases using smartphones. We’re expecting digital wallets to speed the move away from cash, following our very enthusiastic uptake of contactless payments (reaching £2bn in 2014, up 115% on the year before)! Take a good look at your pound coin, because soon it’s going to be an endangered species.

Save the date! Join us at our next workshop Are you social? The age of retail transformation on Thursday 23rd April at ThoughtWorks, 76-78 Wardour Street, London. We will be discussing how businesses are embedding social responsibility within their brand’s DNA and using social to build relationships with customers. For more information and to secure a place contact us at hello@theretailpractice.com.