The app set to change the face of retail


Fiona Hanson/PA

Retail mogul Sir Stuart Rose is set to pitch a new app to the industry that lets users buy goods by simply holding their smartphones in front of an image of whatever they want to purchase.

As the chairman of The Mobile Money Network, Sir Stuart will pitch the app to 150 companies, which if well received could change the face of modern retail.

Following a hugely successful retail career which saw him step down from Marks and Spencer last year with a £8.1m golden goodbye, Sir Stuart, 63, has embraced technology both in his personal life and with a number of new retail ventures.

In March 2011 he became chairman of start-up, The Mobile Money Network, as well as taking a stake in the Hut Group – the growing retail business that owns and 14 other online shops.

Last year, the Mobile Money Network launched an app called Simply Tap, that allows shoppers to make purchases by holding their smartphones in front of an image – whether on a Facebook page, magazine advert or in-store promotion.

How does the app work?
Consumers download the Simply Tap app and register their profile, including preferred payment card and home delivery address. Details are entered just once and securely saved, which means you don't need to re-enter each time you purchase a product or service.

When you see something that you want to buy, the app allows you to ID the product code using image recognition, a scanned QR matrix or typed in code and purchase it immediately for home delivery. The app promises the same consumer experience whatever retailer you buy from.

To date, Carphone Warehouse - one of the group's investors - and the chocolatier Thorntons have trialled the product. But far greater take-up is required for it to be a success.

Retail of the future
Sir Stuart, who has fully embraced the digital age, told the BBC News that the industry is currently lagging behind: "I make no bones about it, we've got to get retailers to step up to the plate and recognise this is where things are going and tell them about £2.4bn of lost business because people say it's too much hassle to use their websites."

Sir Stuart points to the phenomenon of 24-hour shopping, with consumers making online purchases in their pyjamas in the middle of the night, rather than the traditional Saturday afternoon shopping trip that many of us grew up with.

Critics fear that the app will make it far too easy to spend at a time when personal debt needs to be reined in. Yet Sir Stuart hit back claiming that the aim is to simply give consumers what they want, when they want, and social and financial responsibility lies with the app user.

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