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NEW YORK — Ralph Lauren is now available from the palm of the hand.
This story first appeared in the August 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Taking its philosophy of “merchan-tainment” to a new level, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is breaking into mobile commerce — m-commerce — incorporating technology that allows shoppers to buy Polo merchandise from their cell phones.
To realize this, the company is incorporating Quick Response Technology codes in its ads, mailers and store windows, which potential shoppers can scan and download on their camera phones. Once scanned, the site m.ralphlauren.com allows a mobile phone user to enter the world of Ralph Lauren — not just by offering the limited edition 2008 U.S. Open collection, classic polo and oxford shirts, chinos, and even the Ricky bag, but also with exclusive video content and a style guide. The merchandise offering is set to expand in coming months.
“Consumers want flexible and convenient services that are accessible on-demand,” said David Lauren, Polo’s senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications. “M-commerce is so appealing because you can shop anywhere, anytime.”
Polo is the first luxury retailer to tap into the QR technology, which is already popular in Asia and Europe. Increasingly, U.S. cell phones already come with the necessary reader software.
“With new technologies available there are possibilities to create new experiences for our consumers, especially the younger generations that are so invested in digital technology,” Lauren said.
The site functions are the same as for ralphlauren.com: Shoppers need to type in their credit card information, shipping address and billing address. With cell phone purchases, standard shipping is complimentary.
Tapping into mobile technology vastly expands Polo’s reach. According to CTIA & Jupiter Research LLC, 80 percent of the U.S. population has cell phones, and 25 percent, or about 60.8 million, go online through their phones. Worldwide, 489 million people browse the mobile Web monthly, and the number is set to double by 2011, according to research by eMarketer.
This isn’t the first time Polo is breaking ground with technology. In 2006, the company launched an interactive window concept with touch-sensory technology that allowed customers to shop for merchandise from a screen on Polo store windows, 24 hours a day.
“We are always seeking to break ground with innovative ways of interacting with our consumers,” Lauren said. “This new feature allows us to instantly connect consumers to our brand and products. They could be walking down the street — they see our ad and want to buy the shirt the model is wearing, get style advice or read tournament articles. With our mobile site the consumer can shop the U.S. Open collection, watch tennis videos, locate a store and fully experience the brand — all in the palm of their hand.”