Oct 09, 2013

    Soon, shopping made even easier

    A WAVE of experiments at various companies could take consumer convenience (and impulsiveness) to new heights.

    The ultimate vision is a form of shopping nirvana, where consumers can buy what they covet on the spot - straight from an attention-grabbing magazine ad, for instance, or off a television screen, or even from a refrigerator.

    Yesterday, MasterCard was to announce a partnership with Conde Nast, the publisher of Vogue, Wired, Vanity Fair and other popular magazines, that will allow digital readers to instantly buy items described in an article or showcased in an advertisement by tapping a shopping-cart icon on the page.

    The partnership, called ShopThis, will begin in next month's tablet edition of Wired, due on Tuesday.

    Peapod, an online grocer in the Northeast and Midwest that provides home delivery, recently developed a feature on its mobile app that allows customers to restock household staples by scanning bar codes with their smartphones at home. The order goes straight to the consumer's virtual shopping basket.

    And Paydiant, a company that develops mobile payment platforms for clients in the finance and retail industries, has created a technology for scanning a QR, or quick response, code off a television screen to instantly buy something a viewer fancies in a commercial or perhaps even during a television show.

    And while many experiments like ShopThis are in very early stages, they have the potential to shake up traditional business relationships among advertisers, consumers and merchants as they gain traction.

    For example, the ability to sell directly to a consumer could squeeze some of the so-called middlemen of commerce, like big-name retailers.

    Mr Garry Lyons, the chief innovation officer at MasterCard, said the company has developed this click-through shopping technology to be "digitally agnostic", meaning it may be made available across several digital platforms, including television, video and movies.

    Mr Lyons said: "There is no reason why ShopThis couldn't be rolled out when watching a movie or video. You see an actor who has a nice shirt on, you activate ShopThis."