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Esquire uses 2D bar codes within magazine for mobile commerce

February 4, 2010

Shoes galore

Shoes galore

Hearst Communications Inc.’s Esquire magazine has partnered with Scanbuy to let consumers buy items via mobile devices and 2D bar codes.

Scanbuy’s ScanLife codes will debut in the March 2010 issue of Esquire in “The Esquire Collection,” a feature story spotlighting 25 articles of clothing. Esquire added the mobile bar codes to simplify and encourage consumer shopping behavior.

“We’ve heard a lot about 2D bar coding over the last few years, so we began investigating it as part of our overall strategy to make the magazine – the print magazine – more essential to our readers,” said David Granger, editor in chief of Esquire, New York.

“In the same way that we created an augmented reality issue that required people to have the magazine to experience cool augmentations, we wanted to extend the reach of the magazine by taking advantage of the fact that everyone carries smartphones with them at all times,” he said. “We love the idea of making the magazine more immediately useful to our readers.

“Our research into bar coding and photo-recognition technologies showed us that Scanbuy was the most versatile and sophisticated, so we asked for a meeting with them.”

Esquire, a men’s style publication, is published by Hearst Magazines.

Scanbuy is a worldwide provider of mobile bar code services that use the camera phone as the link between the physical world and the digital world.

Instantly fashionable
By using the mobile device’s camera and the ScanLife applcication, Esquire readers can scan the feature’s bar codes to instantly buy items of clothing and accessories seen within the magazine article.

The ScanLife application is currently being preloaded in compatible Sprint smartphones and can be downloaded via on the mobile browser. 

Each article of clothing in The Esquire Collection has its own unique black-and-white 2D bar code. When consumers scan the code with their device’s camera, a menu will appear on screen that lets them perform several functions, including buying the item.

The Buy Now feature on the menu lets readers buy an item, get an itemized description and obtain additional information about items seen directly in the magazine.
Consumers can click Learn More About This Item to be taken to a URL where they learn more about the product, the brand, or alternative versions of the product.
Scanning a bar code will also give consumers the option to be redirected to a URL where they can enter their ZIP code and find the brand’s nearest retail location.

An update in the near future will let the GPS on the mobile device alert readers to the location closest to them.

Additionally, the scanned bar code will bring the user to an Esquire-branded URL that gives advice on how to style the item for his look or wardrobe.

Closing the gap
Esquire said it plans to integrate ScanLife regularly in upcoming issues, expanding from fashion items to letting consumers buy music tracks straight from its pages.

Mr. Granger said Esquire’s readers are relatively affluent, successful men.

“The vast majority of our readers have smartphones and would love to have shortcuts when it comes to acquiring clothing or other products we feature in the magazine,” Mr. Granger said. “The idea is to close the gap between inspiration and action.

“A reader sees something they are interested in, they can act on that interest immediately,” he said.

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Chirs Harnick is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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2 Responses to “Esquire uses 2D bar codes within magazine for mobile commerce”

  1. Mobile guy Says:

    This is a nice idea. Recently I have come across similar campaign by Nike India using an application called intARact.. I do believe that mobile has to be part of traditional media since it bridges the static press ads/hoardings with dynamic and personalized experience.

  2. Drew Verb Says:

    While I applaud Esquire for embracing the new technology, I believe the campaign is a major failure since it used ScanBuy’s proprietary barcode. 2D barcodes , such as QR Code, are open source and the defacto standard in Japan. Any reader, including ScanLife, can read a QR Code, but not only ScanLife readers can read the ScanBuy barcodes. Since the US market for 2D tagging is in it’s infancy, this closed minded approach hurts adaptation.

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