Commentary: Making e-commerce a habitual part of daily life

New bar code technology could open the floodgates for more online buying worldwide, but there are some technological and habitual hurdles to overcome.

2 min read
By James Lundy, Gartner Analyst

Today's joint venture offers a great example of how the Internet can subsume older, well-established technologies--in this case, bar codes--and make use of them in the new economy.

The partners--Motorola, Symbol Technologies, Connect Things and AirClic--plan to use bar codes on consumer goods, such as the ubiquitous universal product code (UPC), as pointers or references to Web pages.

The venture will promote the development

See news story:
Motorola teams for mobile online shopping
of embedded devices--such as Web-enabled cell phones, personal digital assistants and set-top boxes--that incorporate bar-code scanning technology.

This approach could open the floodgates for more online buying worldwide. Today, e-commerce is an application that runs on a device, usually a desktop PC or handheld. Consumers consciously choose to log on to the Net, and for that brief time, they remain wholly within the virtual realm.

The system envisioned by this partnership will let consumers engage in e-commerce while shopping at an actual store, browsing through a magazine or doing other, routine real-world activities. The partners, therefore, hope to make e-commerce a habitual part of daily life.

Moreover, this technology could have a big impact on the sports and entertainment industries. Consumers could scan an advertisement for a movie, sporting event or concert and order tickets on the spot. An advertisement for a TV show or movie could take the consumer right to that show--regular programming, premium channels or pay-per-view movies or events.

Several challenges do exist. Of course, the technology must be made to work. More importantly, consumers will have to get used to the idea of turning to commercialized Web sites at any moment of the day. People who must buy groceries or a gift quickly may not have time to surf the Web. Those challenges will take some time to overcome.

(For related commentary on how wireless will impact the office, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

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