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The future of real-world mobile commerce

Mobile commerce grows upI’ve said for some time that “it’s all e-commerce.” But I admit that it might prove an abstract concept to wrap your head around. So here’s a real-world example, courtesy of Glamour magazine (no, really, Glamour): a billboard-sized virtual store.

The “storefront” offers cosmetics and perfumes to passers-by/shoppers (what do we call these people anyway? Shoppers-by? Drive-by shoppers? Drive-buy shoppers?) via 2D barcodes.

Running low on your favorite lipstick or face cream? Click a picture of the barcode (or QR code) with your smartphone and 24-48 hours later it shows up on your doorstep.


This isn’t a new idea, of course. Many companies have plastered QR codes on their posters and billboards for some time. But these “virtual storefronts” fit the use case for impulse buys perfectly.

Amazon, for instance, could “open” thousands of bookstores all across the country by simply placing posters in public bus stops and subway stations. Travel marketers could offer “last-minute” getaways much the same way. Movie theaters and restaurants could cross-promote in their lobbies and menus. Even actual stores could make better use of shelf space by offering clickable images of large/out-of-stock product for “snap delivery.” It’s just a question of finding the right “snap-to-action” (as opposed to today’s “call-to-action”).

In peeling back the cover on key trends in digital PR, Mashable looked at the importance of “24 hours of screens,” with the idea being that constant access to information will create new expectations and behaviors among consumers. “Virtual storefronts” exhibit one such change. But I doubt it’s the last one. It’s all e-commerce, indeed.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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