Is the Future of Retail Ready, Willing, and Wearable?
Lara Marrero in Consumer Insights Series

Image © Gensler

Ok, ok I'll admit it: I was one of those crazy people who bought the Apple Watch at midnight PST (8 am GMT) on April 10th and was absolutely horrified to learn that due to high demand, I’d have to wait until June to receive the object I've coveted for months. I have dreamed about having it; about the future of wearable tech, about relearning morse code...but more importantly about how the retail landscape will change when a touch point changes from something we touch to something that touches us. The fact is wearable devices are streamlining how we shop and how we live our lives. The wearable device market is slated to grow from over $14 billion in 2014 to a projected $70 billion by 2024. And if the Apple Watch’s sales are any indication, those projections will be met—if not exceeded!

How will the interaction between a consumer and their environment change because of this fun and fancy piece of technology? And how will technological advancements evolve wearables and the shopping experience over the next five years?

In countries with the highest smartphone adoption, the growth in app downloads is in sharp decline. Consumers are now faced with difficult, some may even say impossible, choice: do I erase 20 photos to make space on my phone to download an app to interact with this space, or should I just buy what I'm here to get?" How can wearables transform this connection? The Apple Watch is just one of the many innovative products that will impact experience…what about other wearables on the horizon? Just think about the possibilities! If seamless and integrated is what the consumer is asking for, could our skin be the ultimate interface for our evolving lifestyle? “The human body is the ultimate input device,” says Chris Harrison a PhD Candidate at Carnegie Mellon University.

As exciting as wearables are, some consumers still need the touch and feel aspect of buying. A recent study by Merchant Warehouse says that 46% of web roomers would like to touch and feel a product before they make a purchase. Even these touch and feel consumers experience things differently. For example -- a new spin on “Try-before-you-buy”-- Gorilly offers a showrooming community connecting members who own products that are not in-store with those looking to touch that product before buying it.

To wear or not to wear? That is the question. I know my answer…what’s yours?

Lara Marrero
Lara Marrero views shopping as both an art and a science. Her education in marketing and psychology combined with her love of boots, bags, and baubles, arms her with unique insight into retail and ethnographic trends. Working with Gensler’s strategy and design teams, she helps inform the design process through research, trend analysis, and her knowledge of brands and consumer needs. Lara is a senior associate in the London office. You can contact her at
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