Can you remember where you were and what you were doing on Friday April 10, 2015? I can. I had made an appointment to view and potentially order my new Apple watch. Having got to the relevant point in the appointment system, the nice young lady asked me which watch I was there to see? I knew it was the larger 42mm watch with the Milanese Loop.
In her display box was the exact match to what I was seeking, I could almost feel the credit cards jangling in my wallet. You know when you set yourself up like this, I had been waiting to get my hands on the watch since it was first announced. You build yourself up as you believe in the brand. They won’t let you down, you think. Anyway, needless to say, I still don’t have an Apple watch or indeed one on order. What happened, I hear you all cry?
I was more than a little crestfallen when having handed me the watch, my hand not wrist would not fit into the bracelet opening and believe me I did try and try. I tried on every watch in the display box and when at last I found the one that fitted, it was the rather ordinary looking leather strap version that they still wanted the best part of a small fortune for. I am sure that third-party manufacturers will soon catch up with straps that fit. The lesson here is that the leading brand, while excellent at marketing and branding, does not always come up with the practical goods.
Two other topics seem to be grabbing the retail automation headlines. First ESEL (electronic shelf-edge labels). While the technology, with its paper screens is readily available and was demonstrated at the recent electronics show in Germany, there are many different types of label on offer. Most also have a secondary use in so much that when properly integrated, they can offer other functions. My belief does not change, however, that it will take a commercial breakthrough before ESEL becomes mainstream. Average label cost seems to be around the £7 mark. How many labels will you need in your store?
The other topic of note at the moment seems to be self-checkout.
What is the motivation to purchase such devices? All of the major brands are filling their convenience store checkout lanes with a majority of self-checkout tills. The labour-saving cost alone should warrant a second look at these devices.