Blog: Leonie BarrieScan to shop

Leonie Barrie | 20 August 2008

News that Polo Ralph Lauren is set to become the first US luxury retailer to move into mobile commerce (m-commerce) – that’s shopping via a mobile phone – reminded me of an article we published on just-style a year ago looking at this retailing phenomenon in Japan, where m-commerce already exceeds traditional computer-based e-commerce.

In Japan, shopping is the most popular service available on mobile phones, even more so than downloading music, and fashion retail sites are particularly popular with young women. Most young people spend a lot of downtime commuting and so on, so for many women it's a great chance to catch up on – and buy – the latest styles.

And the fastest growing market for mobile shopping in Japan involves the integration of sites with magazines, radio and television programmes which compensate for the phones’ small screens.

Polo Ralph Lauren is initially launching its service around the 2008 US Open tennis championships, where customers can buy its special tournament collection and watch tennis videos. It’s also going to incorporate Quick Response (QR) codes in its advertisements, store windows and mailers which can be scanned by camera phones so that customers can buy the items they see.

The company sees this as opening up a new channel and providing yet another way of connecting with consumers. The only limitation at the moment is technology, but it's surely just a matter of time before this gets up to speed too.

And with most people doing a lot more on their mobile phones these days than simply making and receive calls or texts, this could well be the next untapped market for retailers. But for how long I wonder?

US: Polo Ralph Lauren to launch mobile phone shopping


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