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Wearables starting to make in-roads with consumers, but apps are lacking study suggests

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Wearable technology is evolving beyond wrist-worn devices to include shirts, tattoos, hats, shoes and more but what makes these devices useful is the actionable collected data. A new report from Argus Insights shows that consumers are much happier with their wearable devices than the apps they use to interpret the data they collect.

Based on an analysis of over 136,000 consumer reviews of Wearables devices and applications from November 2015-February 2016, Argus Insights finds that users report higher delight for devices than brands’ associated apps.

“Clearly the app experience is affecting the long term efficacy of the wearables market,” says John Feland, CEO, Argus Insights. “Without interpretation of the data to inspire action and promote change, devices become dispensable and land in the sock drawer.”

The new report shows that both Nike and Jawbone apps are earning praise and relatively higher delight scores while Fitbit, Samsung and other apps are consistently seeing low consumer satisfaction, as shown in the chart below.

For example, Jawbone Up is leading delight as a great ‘all in one app,’ but at the same time users express discontent with the Jawbone bands.

The major areas of consumer discontent include trouble syncing data, apps crashing and frustration with installation. The report also shows that consumers are happiest with the fitness, calorie tracker and heart rate monitoring information available from the wearable apps.

What the report really tells us is that wearable devices are becoming more standardized, but there is a significant gap between consumer satisfaction with the hardware and the apps. There is also a continued need for applications to improve to interpret all the data wearable devices collect. Companies, therefore, must integrate all collected personal data in a simple, understandable way and inspire users to take specific actions based on this information.

From a retail perspective it looks like there’s a long way to go before wearables are being used in the shopping environment. For now most are confined to fitness and health, however this is likely to mark the jump off point for retail, with fitness and sport brands looking to sell through these health based wearables and their attendant apps.

In longer run will wearables impact retail? Of course, starting with quick and easy ‘mobile’ payments and eventually moving into other areas. However, as the study shows, there is still some way to go before the apps themselves on these devices work properly for the kind consumer experience customers want.

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