French retailer uses PowaTag to create 10,000 virtual shops, major UK chains to follow

INTEGRATED: PowaTags will help Comptoir des Cotonniers to turn magazine ads into virtual boutiques
INTEGRATED: PowaTags will help retailer turn magazine ads into virtual boutiques

French fashion retailer Comptoir des Cotonniers is using a platform developed by Powa Technologies to turn posters, billboards, magazines, cafe table tops, postcards, flyers and clothing into ‘virtual boutiques’ that let consumers order and pay for goods with their mobile phone.

British retailers Waitrose, Argos, Laura Ashley and Screwfix are also in the “advanced stages” of rolling out the new PowaTag platform, Powa says.

Powa offers an ecommerce app that is available as either a standalone solution or as a white label option that can be integrated into existing ecommerce apps offered by merchants or brands. Consumers can then use the app to make purchases by capturing ‘PowaTags’ included in print, radio and TV advertisements, in catalogues, on billboards, retail displays and on ecommerce sites.

The company has raised US$96.7m to roll out the technology internationally and has the backing of more than 200 retail brands including Reebok, Quiksilver and Harry & David.

“It is a transformational technology; a platform that allows merchants and brands to convert transactions from physical printed pages, closed shop windows, TV commercials or broadcasts, fashions shows and open air events — any of these scenarios — into a transaction,” CEO Dan Wagner told NFC World+ when the platform was unveiled in March this year.

“It uses a variety of what we could call transport mechanisms which can either be barcodes, QR codes, audio or video watermarks, visual image watermarks, JavaScript, iBeacons — a variety of methods — and these are just ways to get information to the phone.

“All of these methods are simply there to allow the phone to understand what it is looking at and then to carry on the transaction.

“Whenever you see a PowaTag on a printed ad or a mail order catalogue or a poster, you hold your phone up at it and all the data is transmitted to your phone with all the options to buy that product.”

For audio ads, he continued, “we use a watermark that is embedded into the audio broadcast; the watermark is generated by our self-service platforms and allows the viewer to listen, using the microphone of their phone. The mic picks up the trigger messages and triggers the application to display the product.”

Comptoir des Cotonniers is using the platform to create 10,000 virtual boutiques across the streets of major French cities, including Paris, Toulouse and Marseille. After an initial three-minute sign up process, purchases can be completed using the new Le Fast Shopping service in seconds with goods then delivered to the shopper’s home within 48 hours.

A video shows the retailer’s service in action:

“As a leading fashion retailer, this is exactly the kind of innovation that we look for at Comptoir des Cotonniers, utilizing technology to better meet the needs of our customers,” says CEO Nancy Pedot.

“We are proud to be partnering with Powa Technologies as we introduce the concept of ‘Fast Shopping’ and redefine what multi-channel means for the retail industry.”

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