November 30, 2011, 10:42 AM

Mobile Top 10

New swipe and snap tools enliven m-commerce.

Lead Photo

New technologies regularly pop up in the mobile world and some retailers are putting them to use in innovative ways. These are the hot retailers in mobile, the ones that know smartphone owners love to be wowed by new technologies.

Perhaps the biggest up-and-coming mobile technology is 2-D bar codes. A consumer with a 2-D reader app on her smartphone points her smartphone camera at a 2-D code—a pattern of squares encased in a square—and the app automatically links her to mobile web-based content designed by a retailer.

Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. built into its impressive mobile app a 2-D bar code reader so customers wouldn't have to go find one on their own. PacSun features large QR codes, a type of 2-D bar code, on signs in stores that when read by the app connect customers to, for example, videos that explain the nature of an expensive fabric. "By taking advantage of newer technologies within our app we can open up a whole new world of possibilities," says Tim Katz, senior online operations manager.

J.C. Penney also is using QR codes, placing them in its catalogs and stores to link shoppers to mobile content. But perhaps more impressive in the realm of new technologies, the merchant has armed its Modern Bride sales associates with iPads containing a custom app that lets associates and brides shop together for jewelry. The app presents a bounty of information that complements the knowledge of an associate.

EBay Inc. also is using QR codes and is in beta on a version of its site specially designed for iPads. Additionally, it has integrated augmented reality technology into its fashion app. Augmented reality changes images and live video, throwing static images or live, changing text atop what a consumer sees through his camera view. In the fashion app, customers can "try on" clothes by taking a picture of themselves and placing garments on the image.

On other fronts, Gap Inc. has created a wild iPad app that enables shoppers to endlessly swipe through a highly creative home screen, accessing content and products. Redcats USA boasts 15 smartphone apps and 11 iPad apps, which soon will enable consumers to search by images they snap on their mobile device cameras. And Sephora USA Inc.'s iPad app makes use of the iPad 2's dual cameras to create a make-up mirror.

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