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Junk Food uses QR codes for digital boutiques with low carbon footprint

Vintage t-shirt online retailer Junk Food has a new physical presence that uses digital displays inside a California mall and QR codes to enable shoppers to make a purchase.

The digital displays, which rotate through a selection of popular vintage t-shirts, make it possible for the company to have a physical presence that does not have a large carbon footprint. By scanning a QR code with their smartphones, shoppers can purchase a custom-printed t-shirt and have it shipped to their homes.

“Junk Food was looking to launch retail stores and we thought the timing was perfect to try something new,” said Andrei Najjar, vice president of marketing and brand development at Junk Food Clothing Co., Los Angeles, CA. “It is no longer necessary to have a large retail blueprint – in fact, we think it is much more modern and eco with this approach – less of a carbon footprint.

“We wanted to make the shopping experience innovative and constantly new and support Westfield’s sustainability initiatives of reducing the retail blueprint,” he said.

QR code success
Junk Food previously used QR codes to enable smartphone users to make a charitable donation and to register to vote. Based on the success of those efforts, the company decided to try enabling users to make a purchase by scanning a QR code using eBay’s RedLaser technology.

The t-shirt company also recently acquired a company enabling Junk Food to do print on-demand t-shirts and the digital boutique acts as a virtual storefront for this technology.

The first digital boutique opened at the Westfield Topanga mall in San Fernando Valley, California on Aug. 1. It will roll out to other Westfield locations in the United States throughout this year and into 2013.

The digital wall features a revolving selection of men’s and women’s designs that will be changed monthly. There is also a video playing providing instructions for consumers on how to make a purchase.

Facilitating mobile commerce
To shop the digital boutique, mobile users select a tee off a virtual Junk Food light box display and scan the 2D bar code for that design. This pulls up a multi-view product description page.

EBay then takes over and powers the mobile commerce portion in three steps.  Consumers can pay with any major credit card or PayPal.

The order process then goes to customer service and is fulfilled through Junk Food’s print-on-demand company within 48 hours.

A mobile-enabled shopping experience such as this makes sense since consumers walking through a mall are already in a shopping frame of mind and increasingly have their smartphones handy to help search for the best deals. Junk Food joins a growing number of companies, including Peapod, eBay, Tesco and others that have used to QR codes to facilitate mobile commerce.

“We represent over 800 pop-culture licenses – so it gives us a way to introduce constant newness to our fans,” Mr. Najjar said. “We have plans to completely swap out the exclusive designs every month in partnership with our licensing base.

“We launched with DC Comics but we have plans very soon to launch with another large partner,” he said.

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