Retailers roll out Apple Watch apps



The Apple Watch has arrived and retailers are already promoting apps created for the new device. While the wearable market is still undefined, it seems retailers are anxious not to be left behind should the product and usage prove to be a hit with consumers.

JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) is among the retailers quick to adopt an app customized for Apple's new wearable, but this particular venture may prove to be a bit of a wild goose chase for the retailer. JCPenney's core customer demographic more closely fits the profile of an Android device user than an iOS early adopter. Nevertheless, the retailer estimates that more than half of its 86 million customers are iPhone users, according to the Washington Post.

"We have to move fast, and this is a risky proposition. No one's ever done this before," said Mike Rodgers, JCPenney's executive VP of omnichannel, told the Post.

JCPenney engineers worked for several months at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) headquarters to create the app, which allows shoppers to access lists and saved items, as well as search inventory and get turn-by-turn directions to an item on the shelf.

The early goal for Watch apps is to develop a better in-store experience with a focus on navigation and assistance rather than m-commerce. For example, Marks & Spencer has formatted recipes for the Watch that will help guide shoppers to the products they need.

Furthermore, Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) shopping app for Apple Watch enables single-click buying and voice search, allows access to the entire Amazon catalog, and lets users add items to self-made lists.

"This is still day one for wearable devices, and we are excited to offer new ways for our customers to get quick glimpses of information they need from Amazon through Apple Watch," said Paul Cousineau, director of mobile shopping at Amazon, in a press release. "There are times when it might not be convenient to get your phone out of your pocket. So we worked to distill the best parts of the Amazon shopping experience into fast and simple access points from your wrist. Customers can use voice search, 1-Click purchasing, and find all of the key pieces of product information they need. We can't wait to see how our customers respond."

Still, other retailers are indeed planning to send deals to shoppers via their wrists. Valpak's new Apple Watch app brings local coupons directly to the device. "This app helps us energize the savings game for all—for both consumers and advertisers who count on getting the word out about their business through Valpak marketing solutions," said Michael Vivio, president of Valpak Direct Marketing Systems and Cox Target Media, in a statement.

Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) Apple Watch app is focused on delivering savings via coupons, Yes2You loyalty program rewards and Kohl's Cash.

"We have seen firsthand that mobile is something our customers want to enhance their shopping experience," noted a Kohl's company statement. "Since we re-launched the Kohl's mobile app in October 2014, we've gone from 400,000 active users to more than 6 million downloads of the app, and we are adding more users every day."

Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets is believed to be the first grocer to launch an integrated iBeacon Apple Watch app, according to Supermarket News. The beacon program launched in January with inMarket, and the Watch app lets users access shopping lists and better navigate the store to find items.

Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that 3,500 Watch apps were available at launch, compared to the 1,000 that were ready for the iPad's launch in March of 2010. So make no mistake: The Watch is here, and retailers are ready.

For more:
-See this Washington Post story
-See this TechCrunch story
-See this Supermarket News story
-See this Amazon announcement
-See this FierceMobileMarketer article

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