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PowaTag Looks to Unite Online and Offline Retailing

Firms including Carrefour, Laura Ashley, Waitrose and Theo Fennell have signed up to the service.

The London-based firm Powa Technologies Tuesday unveiled PowaTag, a service that enables retailers to connect to consumers and to marry customers’ online and offline retail experiences.

The company said 240 retailers and brands, including Carrefour, Theo Fennell, Waitrose, Laura Ashley and My-Wardrobe.com, have already signed up to the service. Powa Technologies chief executive officer Dan Wagner launched the service Tuesday morning at New York’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Using a combination of technologies that include Bluetooth, QR codes, JavaScript, audio sensors and instant payment authentication, the PowaTag app for iPhones and Android devices allows customers to scan and buy tagged items that they see in stores, on television advertisements or in print media. By registering once with PowaTag, customers bypass each retailer’s checkout process for a swifter experience. While PowaTag doesn’t process the payments, its technology enables customers to buy via the free app by virtually entering customers’ payment and delivery data into retailers’ checkouts on their behalf.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Wagner said he believes the app “has gone straight to the heart of what retailers want, and that is to make sales,” noting that the buying experience is “seamlessly integrated into one app.” The app is free for customers to download, and the only cost to retailers and brands is the 0.1 percent fee that PowaTag takes on each transaction. “We’re aiming for a mass-market adoption [of the app], so taking a small piece [of the transaction] is the way to make that palatable,” said Wagner. He added that by the end of this year, a half-million retailers are expected to have deployed PowaTag’s beacon technology in their stores, allowing them to alert customers using the app to news and offers.

Wagner also noted that the app’s collection of data about customers and their shopping activities via both online and offline platforms will allow retailers and brands to measure the return on investment on what Wagner called the “previously woolly world of press and broadcast advertising.”

Thierry Pélissier, vice president of marketing at Carrefour, said the technology will “help Carrefour to measure the ROI of all our marketing campaigns….Among its various capabilities, PowaTag will allow Carrefour to provide its customers with a more fluid shopping experience.”

Ariane de Merlis, digital manager at Theo Fennell, said the technology will “simplify the whole buying process online and offline.”