Smartwatch commerce took a leap forward with Samsung’s early September announcement of Galaxy Gear, an upcoming smartwatch (or “companion device”) boasting an eBay app that allows customers to complete eBay transactions through the watch.
This move is especially notable because, until now, commerce apps have not been associated with the smartwatch market. Developers have avoided the complex requirements of retail or sales apps and have stuck with options that more easily fit the small screen — music players, GPS software and social media updates, for example.
The Galaxy Gear, however, breaks the traditional mold thanks to the eBay app. The official software from the online auction house and community market allows users to view current notifications and tap their way to individual products. While neither eBay nor Samsung have given specific examples of how the app could be used, one obvious application involves real-time monitoring of items during the bidding process.
Steve Yankovich, eBay’s vice president of innovation and new ventures, notes that smartwatches do indeed have a place in the e-commerce world, especially when it comes to making a purchase while the user might be involved in other activities. “Think about someone who’s riding a bike,” he says. “It’s not convenient for a rider to pull out a phone and order a new helmet. But if the device is already on his or her wrist and it’s active, the rider is more likely to make the purchase.”
So far, eBay is the first major online company to offer this kind of ability, but the app has the potential to inspire others to make the leap to the extra-small screen. The Gear also has a few other interesting capabilities that could spur smartwatch commerce, including a camera with built-in scanning functions. Samsung has already announced the Vivino Wine Scanner that lets customers snap a photo of a bottle of wine and gain immediate access to its vintage and product details.
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