Today's New York Times has a story about a new company called ShopText, who hope to revolutionize impulse buying:
A company called ShopText has introduced a system that lets people buy products instantly using text messages, a process that eliminates the need to go to a store or even visit a Web site. For instance, a woman seeing an ad for a pocketbook in a magazine can order it on the spot simply by sending the text code found beside the item through her cellphone.
Amazingly, they have already signed up a number of high-profile clients for their service:
Consumers can already use text messages to buy some products. Ads for the new CD by singer Tim McGraw carry a texting code, as do magazine writeups for the new Harry Potter novel coming this summer. Some concert halls are selling tickets by text message, and some charities are taking donations that way.
CosmoGirl magazine will feature text-message codes throughout its June/July issue, both in the advertising and editorial pages. And Stuff magazine is introducing text-to-buy on products like CDs, DVDs and video games featured in its pages.
Alas, it is not as seamless an experience as the Times first hints:
To use the system, a consumer must first place a phone call to ShopText to set up an account, specifying a shipping address and card account. After that, all purchases can be made by thumb.
When ShopText receives text messages about donations or products, it charges the credit card it has on file for the buyer, then, if appropriate, sends the product from one of its warehouses around the country.
If they can hook up their system to directly bill customers through their carriers, then they'll find themselves in excellent position to truly revolutionize the modern shopping experience.