PowaTag is live on New York City streets.
This story first appeared in the December 15, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The mobile commerce scanning application, which was created by London-based Powa Technologies, has partnered with 2(x)ist to create virtual stores this holiday season.
Now through Dec. 21, shoppers can scan tags on virtual storefronts — billboards and bus shelters — around New York City or through a 60-second video advertisement in nearly 8,000 taxicabs to purchase 2(x)ist’s men’s underwear on their smartphones.
PowaTag uses proprietary technology on printed billboards, Web sites, e-mails, digital watermarks encoded into broadcasts and links on social media to allow customers to immediately buy merchandise. The app is available for free on iTunes and Google Play for iPhones and Android devices.
Dan Wagner, founder and chief executive officer of Powa Technologies, said, “Over 600,000 people take New York City yellow taxis every single day, while countless numbers pass by billboards on the streets, and you can guarantee most of them will spend their journeys with their smartphones in hand. By enabling travelers to instantly, effortlessly complete transactions by simply holding up their phone and tapping, PowaTag is empowering 2(x)ist to turn impulse into action and reach a huge and currently untapped market, essentially opening virtual stores in some of the busiest parts of the city.”
In addition to audio-tagging in taxis, there are nine virtual-store sites around the city, including Third Avenue and 56th Street; Lexington Avenue and 62nd Street, and 47th and Fifth.
Tom Speight, president and ceo of 2(x)ist, said it has “become abundantly clear how important mobile commerce is for the future. Our campaign with PowaTag takes what we’ve learned one step further by putting the powerful tool of instant purchasing through a smartphone in the hands of busy New Yorkers who would otherwise glance at an advert and then forget about it.”
Traub Accelerator, a division of Marvin Traub Associates cofounded and headed by former Saks Inc. chairman and ceo Steve Sadove, has been working with Powa Technologies to launch its app in the U.S.
Mortimer Singer, president and ceo of Marvin Traub Associates, said PowaTag offers “groundbreaking technology” that has had “remarkable success around the world, and the deployment in the U.S. is just beginning.” He described the technology as a “shopping gun” that allows “every café, phone booth or bus shelter to become shoppable. The most important thing today is the point of impulse, and this is the catalyst.”
Wagner said more than 1,100 brands and retailers around the world have signed on to use the technology, including Champion, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Ugg and Quiksilver, and the company is adding 150 new brands a month. He said PowaTag can help companies to compete against Amazon, which he called “an unstoppable machine” that saves consumers the hassle of a four-step checkout process every time they want to buy something. “This is the weapon to fight back because you can jump over the checkout hell,” he said.
2(x)ist is directly fulfilling the orders placed this month in New York City, but Singer said brands can use the tags to “push business to their retailing partners,” as well.
In June, Powa Technologies purchased the Hong Kong mobile payment site MPayMe for $75 million in a move to broaden its reach globally. As a result of the merger, PowaTag uses MPayMe’s Znap secure payment application.