Department Stores Are Investing Significantly in Wearables



Movado, Garmin, Fitbit, and Fossil are among the most-stocked brands

Department stores have become very enthusiastic about wearable devices. Connected watches, in particular.

In fact, Macy’s and Nordstrom currently deliver the most diverse array of smartwatches in bricks-and-mortar retailing. And they’re increasingly diversifying their smart offerings.  

The major retailers’ ability to attract wearable brands—with promises of big sales and wide exposure—has resulted in a deep bench of smartwatches for some department stores.

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Mondaine Helvetica smartwatch, $1,000, at Nordstrom (photo courtesy of Nordstrom)

Nordstrom, in particular, has gone all in with smartwatches, and has even been fairly experimental with the device brands it carries. The Seattle-based retailer sells the usual smart suspects, including Garmin, Pebble, Fitbit, and Fossil. But it also stocks pricier, less exposed wearables from small developers including Olio Devices (which run $500 and up), Mondaine (its Helvetica watch is $1,000), Movado (priced at $695), and Martian (styles start at $299).  

Macy’s isn’t as experimental with the wearable brands it carries, but the retailer does stock dozens of smartwatches from a handful of leading brands: Movado, Fossil, Samsung, and Guess. 

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Vector smart watch, $299, at Bloomingdale’s (photo courtesy of Bloomingdale’s)

Devices from Garmin, Fossil, and Movado are also well represented at Bloomingdale’s. But the iconic retailer mixes things up with styles from less obvious makers—on the website now is the $995 Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch, Tissot’s T-Touch Expert Solar watch ($1,150), and cool, low-key connected timepieces from Vector, all priced at $249. 

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A/X Armani Exchange smartwatch, $200, at Dillard’s (photo courtesy of Dillard’s)

Smaller department stores including Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor carry slightly fewer wearables than the biggies, but that’s still dozens more than most independent jewelry stores. Lord & Taylor sells Fitbit, Movado, and Fossil, while Dillard’s stocks Garmin, A/X Armani Exchange, Movado, and Fossil. 

Will department stores’ significant investment in wearable tech ultimately cut into potential sales of wearables at independently owned jewelry stores, many of whom don’t yet stock smart jewelry and watches?

Or does the ubiquity of connected devices at anchor retailers help legitimize wearables in general, softening consumers up for sales across the board? To my mind, the verdict is still out.

(Top photo: Olio Devices Model One watch, $595 at Nordstrom; courtesy of Nordstrom)

JCK Magazine Editor