Programmatic Lunch

French Brand Comptoir Des Cotonniers Debuts PowaTag's "Anywhere Shopping"

Kirsty Styles

photo 4French clothing chain Comptoir Des Cotonniers has become the first retailer to go live with an “anywhere shopping” experience powered by PowaTag.


The brand has deployed 10,000 PowaTag-enabled billboards across France's major cities in partnership with JCDecaux, as well as a print ad campaign in Uber taxis, Grazia and Stylist, encouraging people to download the app, enter billing details and get ‘tagging’.


PowaTag’s overall offer spans eCommerce, including one-click online payments, POS, beacons, QR codes in print, on in-store tags, on email newsletters and outdoors, along with NFC functionality and audio tagging for TV and radio ads. Today, users in France will be able to buy one product per transaction by scanning the Powatag QR codes on the Comptoir Des Cotonniers ads, kicking off with special promos on offer for a limited time, with multi-item baskets to be added to the platform in September.


Comptoir is hoping to capture (and coin) the ‘wait marketing’ phenomenon - so is targeting its campaign at metro stations, bus queues and other moments when city dwellers have little more to do than shop. After the first use of the PowaTag app, transactions can be completed in just one click, but the French chain has opted to add an additional step so its customers don’t make any accidental purchases.


With this frighteningly comprehensive transaction platform, and the promise to be the wonder drug for “fast shopping addicts”, PowaTag says it has already signed up a further 475 brands, retailers, manufacturers and publishers. That figure has almost doubled in two months and now includes the likes of Laura Ashley, Waitrose, Argos, Schuh, Maplin and Uber in the UK.


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PowaTag gives its brand clients access to their shopper data to feed back into their in-house CRM systems, while analysing customer behaviour itself to improve the app’s performance. That comes at a flat cost of 25p per transaction up to the value of £250.


The company’s platform is already being used for airline check in at JFK airport in New York, with potential implementations for charities to add ‘donate now’ functionality to posters, utility billing capabilities and services that enable you to order from your seat. Universal Music is another early platform partner and will be using audio tagging for TV ads and at concerts so people will almost-instantly be able to buy albums or other merchandise and have it delivered to their door.


Millionaire internet entrepreneur and PowaTag CEO Dan Wagner says this platform goes way beyond the mobile wallet, calling it a "transaction enabler" that will “begin a major revolution in advertising and retail. Comptoir Des Cotonniers is the first brand of millions we expect to use PowaTag but we believe this will be as important as the introduction of TV and the effect TV had on advertising," he says.


Wagner believes PowaTag is set to take the entire advertising, retail and even broadcasting industries by storm, "the next Google or Facebook", succeeding where giants like Visa, Mastercard, Google and O2 have spent billions developing omnichannel sales solutions but failed to gain real traction. Wagner even dismisses the might of PayPal as it struggles to reimagine its identity post-desktop, citing his eCommerce record, including founding SaaS platform Venda, as collateral behind his company.


In terms of the changes promised for broadcasting, Wagner says that TV and radio programmes will start being made to accommodate its audio tagging function. France’s TFOne teleshopping show is already poised to implement a signal that opens up the app, shows the person a product being demoed on their TV set, which they can just touch to buy. Of course this means viewers will already need to have the app, but Wagner says it's in each of Powatag's partners interests to get people using the app. Gilles Labouheyrie from the French broadcaster said this will be key to growing “impulse buying” at TFOne.


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Wagner believes that PowaTag will become the "must-have" app for consumers and the "ubiquitous" platform that retailers sorely need for linking instore, outdoor and online. "We’re going to change behaviour for consumers around the world, how advertising is delivered and how retailers engage," he says.


And it looks like investors believe him, with the company receiving nearly $100m (£600,000) investment over the last year from a non-VC, non-private equity backer, which Wagner says ensures he is in this for the long haul. The company is now valued at "several billion euros", he adds and counts JCDecaux, which operates in 62 countries, as a partner for billboard space. “We have the potential to be a world leader."


UK-based PowaTag has spent two years and employed some 300 developers to weave together lots of different technologies – many of which are nothing new but have so far been over-promised and under-delivered. Wagner says that PowaTag's potential myriad implementations, all managed via the company’s dashboard, will “create a new standard”. It takes just seven days for a retailer to integrate PowaTag within their existing systems and developers can also use the company's APIs to plug it into their legacy infrastructure for almost any end.


With a name and track record like Dan Wagner, the PowaTag CEO was certainly assured to talk the talk, but is that enough to change the habits of a lifetime for shoppers where many others to date have been unsuccessful?