January 26, 2011, 1:48 PM

E-commerce tech provider Escalate adds mobile shopping options

In-store shopping and augmented reality features are in the works.

Lead Photo

The upcoming in-store shopping app will work with Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7.

Escalate Retail will launch this summer a mobile app that will provide consumers information about retail stores they’re in. It also recently demonstrated a seperate augmented reality app in development that will let shoppers use their smartphones to take a picture of a shopping street to see offers from participating retailers.

Augmented reality uses the capabilities of a mobile phone to enhance presentation, such as using the smartphone’s GPS to identify a consumer’s location and then displaying through the device’s camera views a coupon to a nearby store.

The in-store mobile app is being developed specifically for Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 7 by Escalate, Microsoft and IdentifyMine, a design and user experience agency. Escalate chose to launch its app on the Windows Phone 7 platform because of the user interface the Windows phone offers, says Dave Bruno, Escalate’s director of product marketing. “We started with Windows Phone 7 because of the compelling capabilities inherent in the new Windows phones.  We felt like they were well suited to showcase the power of in-store mobility on the Escalate platform.”

Bruno adds that Escalate will soon follow with versions of the in-store app for iPhone, Android and other mobile phones.

Among the features of the mobile app, which is temporarily code-named “Project Arke”:

● scanning product or aisle bar codes to look up information on products or product categories;

● read customer reviews;

● check the availability of inventory within the store  as well as nearby stores of the same retailer;

● view suggested items in cross-selling and upselling pitches; and

● download coupons and personalized coupons based on the shopping history of shoppers who have opted into to receive such offers.

The app uses Escalate’s Blue Martini personalization technology, including information on a shopper’s shopping history, to enable a sponsoring retailer to provide targeted marketing and merchandising offers while the shopper is in a particular store. “If I’m in a participating store in Chicago, the app would know where I usually shop and what products or categories I like, and show me offers based on those factors,” Bruno says.

In a separate development, Escalate demonstrated at the National Retail Federation annual conference and expo earlier this month its ability to support an augmented reality shopping app. The NRF is a retail industry trade group. Escalate demonstrated how a retailer who wants to appear in an augmented reality app from, say, Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Layar, could integrate the Layar app to its Escalate mobile commerce and e-commerce sites.

The Layar app, which can be downloaded for free from mobile app stores, enables a participating retailer to inject software code that makes its icon appear in the app whenever a shopper users her Layar-app-loaded smartphone to photograph an area where the retailer has a store. Touching the icon then brings up information that the retailer is offering in stores near the shopper’s geographic location, such as discounted prices on particular products or brands. 

Layar also released out of a beta test period on Thursday the Layar Player for the iPhone, which is available for free for embedding augmented reality features into iPhone apps.

Working with Escalate’s Blue Martini software, the retailer can target offers to particular segments of shoppers based on their known shopping behavior or demographics.

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