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Comptoir des Cotonniers launches beacon-enabled virtual stores

Fashion retailer Comptoir des Cotonniers has installed over 10,000 virtual boutiques around several French cities, enabling passersby to scan the ads with their smartphones to make a purchase via the PowaTag app.

The mobile-enabled virtual boutiques can be found on bus shelters and other prominent locations around Paris, Toulouse, Marseille and other cities. Through the use of Bluetooth technology, PowaTag is able to identify if the user is in a retail branch, and offer the option for in-store collection.

“The retail sector is being forced to respond to growing market pressures from customers wanting greater levels of control and freedom of access and choice on how they purchase goods,” said Dan Wagner, CEO of Powa Technologies.

“Retailers can no longer afford to think in terms of online verses offline – they must seriously rethink how they connect in-store and online strategies to provide the agility and innovation needed to enable customers to buy whenever and wherever they may be, when they are at that critical buying-decision moment,” he said.

“The combination of PowaTag beacon and PowaTag transact provides retailers, brands, charities and others with an integrated ability to manage the process from discovery through to transaction with unprecedented ease and reach.”

Omnichannel shopping
App users can also purchase from Comptoir des Cotonniers by scanning ads on coffee tables, notebooks and tote bags, with items either delivered to their homes or available to pick up in-store.  

PowaTag combines several mobile technologies including visual, audio and other sensors as well as Bluetooth beacons to enable users to make purchases from a variety of media, including print, TV, radio and audio announcements while also making it easy for consumers to choose if they would prefer to receive their merchandise online or in-store.

The strategy is designed to meet the needs of busy shoppers interested in omni-channel shopping experiences while helping the retailer to drive foot traffic and online sales.

Consumers first download the PowaTag app and input their preferred payment details as well as preferred delivery address. After registering, users can scan the PowaTag that appears on product packaging or in an ad to be taken to a purchase screen where they can click to complete a purchase.

No payments details are held on the device itself, and all sensitive data is held in the cloud.

Near immediate gratification
Comptoir des Cotonniers, which is part of retail groups Fast Retailing, worked with advertising specialist JCDecaux, telecom company SFR Régie, transport app provider Uber and advertising agency Marcel to create the create boutiques.
The campaign launched last week at the Publicis Drugstore at Champs Elysées in Paris, which was transformed into a virtual boutique.

PowaTag also features and AudioTag option that enables users to purchase products after seeing and hearing ads on the TV and radio. This also opens a huge amount of scope for marketing at events such as football matches and concerts, as attendees can purchase through announcements made at the venue.

“Purchasing through PowaTag is instantaneous, with transaction completed in just a couple of clicks every time,” Mr. Wagner said. “Once a sale has been concluded, the item can be collected in-store or delivered to the user’s preferred address.

“Delivery depends on the individual retailer’s capabilities, but with more companies offering next-day and even same-day options, shoppers can expect to receive their items extremely quickly,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York