Bus stops across Paris will soon be getting a high fashion makeover.

Last week, French contemporary retailer Comptoir des Cotonniers launched Fast Shopping, the brand’s new omni-channel retail experience that blurs the line between e-commerce and the physical world by transforming any object or sign into a fashion boutique. Leveraging technologies including Low Energy Bluetooth, QR codes, audio sensors, and payment authentication, the Fast Shopping mobile app lets users buy tagged items they see on posters, bus stops, cafe tables, or magazines in less than 20 seconds. Users simply scan the item they’d like to buy and tap once to purchase; all orders are delivered within 48 hours.

The app enables an instant, exciting shopping experience while allowing Comptoir des Cotonniers to rapidly expand its retail reach without the significant expense of opening new stores. By debuting its first Fast Shopping “boutiques” on cafe tables and outdoor ads on Paris’ grand Champs-Elysees, Comptoir Des Cottoniers effectively opened a new flagship store on one of the world’s most stylish and heavily trafficked avenues.

Comptoir des Cotonniers’ well-conceived new campaign marks the rising significance of omnichannel retail strategies. With mobile spending in Europe projected to reach $26.2 billion by 2017 and new technologies like Apple’s iBeacon targeting proximate consumers with real-time context-specific messaging, e-commerce is no longer confined to the limits of an online storefront.

Any print advertisement or object in the physical world can be “turned on” to interact with consumers and serve as a point of transaction. The challenge for brands will be identifying natural entry points to engage consumers who are in the mood to buy.

Monetizing Digital Fashion Content

With a reputation for high-quality editorial content and an enormous community ravenously consuming this content across magazines, blogs, and billboards, the fashion industry may be uniquely qualified to succeed in omni-channel retail. Great strides have already been made to monetize digital fashion content, including Pinterest’s “promoted pin” ad product (reportedly launched last month at a $30-40 CPM) and companies like Soldsie and LiketoKnow.it that allow users to purchase a pictured product directly from their Facebook or Instagram feeds. The underpinning objective is to streamline paths to purchase by minimizing the gap between seeing a product and purchasing that product — and Fast Shopping expands this digital strategy to the physical world.

The duality of siloed brick & mortar storefronts and their e-commerce counterparts is a construct of the past. Hybrid, omni-channel retail experiences that meet consumers where they are will transform the fashion industry and irreversibly alter consumer expectations for how quickly and easily products can be purchased.

Omni-Channel Streamlines Customer Focus

Traditional businesses looking to bolster e-commerce revenues should develop an omni-channel strategy focused on creation of seamless, elegant digital paths to purchase. These companies should audit existing capabilities to remove obstructions between consumer and product and deploy a content strategy that captures and holds consumer attention in a digital and physical world overrun with stimuli.

(Originally Published on the Centric Digital blog // June 3, 2014)