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Retailers introduce interactive 'shopping walls'

This photo taken March 11, 2005, shows a 'QR Code' being displayed in a camera-equipped mobile phone in Tokyo. QR Code allows users to enter text information such as name and address on a name card, Internet URL or e-mail address, into mobile phones easily and quickly.

Jeremy Hobson: Well we are 45 days away from Christmas and just 15 days away from the biggest shopping day of the year. But forget shopping malls this holiday season.

Retailers like Wal-Mart and Sears are testing so-called "shopping walls" around the country. They let consumers make purchases with their cell phones.

Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith explains.


Stacey Vanek Smith: I checked out a Sears "shopping wall" at a movie theater in New York. It's a poster covered with photos of toys, like Hot Wheels and Let's Rock Elmo.

Each picture has a Quick Response, or QR, code next to it -- you know, those ubiquitous black and white squares. If you take a photo of that square with your smartphone, it will whisk you to a website where you can buy that item.

Tracey Chapman: The convenience factor of this is really exciting.

Marketing consultant Tracey Chapman says shopping walls are popping in bus stops, subways, movie theaters -- places where people have time to kill. Making shopping easy and fast is paramount these days. After all, the faster you buy, the less time you have to think about your budget.

Chapman: Retailers who can make it a fun experience and bring back the fun of the shop are the ones that are going to win with consumers.

I scanned and rescanned the QR codes, but my cell reception in the movie theater wasn't good enough to connect me to any of the product pages. Looks like I'll be fighting it out at the mall after all.

In New York, I'm Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.
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