October 25, 2011, 4:29 PM

In eBay’s new QR code promotion, the store window is the store

Consumers with smartphones can shop in a New York store window.

Lead Photo

Consumers use an eBay mobile app to scan QR codes in store windows.

Online marketplace eBay Inc.’s latest mobile commerce innovation takes window shopping quite literally: It enables consumers with smartphones looking at products in a New York City store window to shop for and buy those or similar products while standing on the sidewalk.

EBay has collaborated with artist and TV personality Jonathan Adler to open The eBay Inspiration Shop at 404 Park Avenue South in New York. The shop’s windows are filled with merchandise and wish lists from various celebrities, all adorned by the art of Adler in eBay’s red, blue, gold and green colors.

Products feature QR codes, a type of 2-D bar code that enables smartphone users with a QR code reader app to point their cameras at the code and be automatically linked to mobile content. In this case, shoppers use the eBay app, which contains a QR code reader, and are linked within the app to the product page or search listings of similar products. They then can purchase an item within the app.

“The chic choices from our contributors, coupled with the incredible selection available on eBay, resulted in a genuinely inspired storefront,” Adler says. “And the fact that you can shop it all from your smartphone is truly groovy.”

There is no store behind the windows; eBay designed the storefront solely as a device to enthuse consumers and foster mobile commerce.

“Our customers get shopping inspiration from a variety of sources, whether it be standing at a stoplight, at their kid’s soccer game or walking past a store window,” an eBay spokeswoman says. “The problem is that, in the past, they had to drive home to their computers or wait until a store was open before they could react on that inspiration. The eBay Inspiration Shop is designed to fuel that inspiration and the QR codes featured on the windows direct shoppers to custom landing pages that surface similar live listings so shoppers can browse and buy based on their choice of style and brand regardless of the time of day.”

Consumers outside of Manhattan can access the Inspiration Shop on eBay’s Facebook page and at m.InspirationShop.eBay.com.

Earlier, eBay conducted a survey that it says informed the creation of the shop. The survey of 1,010 U.S. adults found that 48% of shoppers want to make an immediate purchase when they find something they like and 46% enjoy browsing store windows. However, the majority cited frustration with traditional shopping, particularly long lines (57%), crowded stores (54%), pushy sales teams (52%), and lack of or limited inventory (65%). Mobile technology enables immediate access to products and eliminates typical shopping aggravations, eBay says.

New, fixed-price merchandise on eBay is eclipsing the auctions on which the company was built. 70% of items on eBay are new, not used, and 62% of all listings are fixed price, not auctions, eBay reports. EBay’s suite of 15 mobile apps combined have been downloaded nearly 50 million times, with three purchases made every second through mobile commerce, eBay reports.

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