Retailers anxious to lull shoppers into a holiday spending daze are debuting a new experiment in simulation: the "real" online store.

On Nov. 1, Walmart (WMT) launched two pop-up stores in San Diego and Los Angeles malls, where, instead of stroking the fabric of sweaters and sheets, shoppers can browse on tablet and laptop screens.

Walmart claims that "real" online shopping is convenient, combining the limitless inventory of the Web with help from knowledgeable sales staff. Some locals aren't buying it. One San Diego shopper points out that you have to pay to park at the mall, which costs more than shipping, "So what's the point?" he writes on the website of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Actually, shipping will cost you, too -- though Walmart will reimburse shoppers for it with gift cards.

Walmart isn't alone in this experiment: This year, Sears (SHLD), Kmart, and eBay (EBAY) have all launched retail experiments that put their websites on sidewalks and in malls. In most cases, smartphones are what connect the cloud with the food court. Sears and Kmart now have "mobile toy walls": interactive ads in airports and subways that display images of products alongside Quick Response codes. The QR codes -- those speckled squares that work like bar codes -- take shoppers to an online checkout when scanned by smart-phones.

Online-only retailer eBay launched a similar experiment back in October with its "Inspiration Shop" on New York City's Park Avenue. The "24/7 shoppable storefront" was designed to turn foot traffic into Web traffic via the eBay app.

'Let the Store Come to the People'

Whether the "stores" will attract shoppers -- or remain clever advertisements -- remains to be seen. So far, some San Diego residents are perplexed by the dainty 3,000-square-foot Walmarts (an average Walmart Supercenter is 185,000 square feet). "This is a stupid idea since anyone could do the same thing using their home computer," Cheryl Clark, a local shopper told the Union-Tribune.

"The stores are just a small test we're conducting during the holiday season to offer local customers easier, more convenient access to products," a Walmart spokesman told Reuters.

QR codes, widely embraced by marketers as a way to get consumers to interact with brands, have also been slow to catch on. While 40% of U.S. mobile users have smart-phones according Nielsen data, only 6.2% of mobile users scan QR codes, according to another study from June 2011.

Still, similar ventures in other countries have proved successful. Tesco, the supermarket chain, saw its online sales jump 130% when it launched a virtual grocery store in the subways of Seoul, Korea, a venture which inspired Sears and Kmart's mobile walls. There, busy commuters waiting for trains face life-size, hyper-realistic photos of fully stocked grocery aisles. By scanning QR codes, they can purchase items with smartphones and have them automatically delivered.

For Tesco, the walls were a way to "let the store come to the people," increasing market-share without having to open new locations, according to a video produced by Tesco's advertising agency, Cheil Worldwide.

In the U.S., more mobile users use smart phones than in South Korea, and mobile shopping is predicted to bring in $10 billion in sales in 2012, according to Forrester Research. Whether or not Sears' "mobile walls" catch on, they stand to raise awareness about Web offerings from the company, at the very least.

Meanwhile, in its grab for more online shoppers, Walmart has figured out something neither Tesco nor Amazon have -- how to bring the e-commerce experience to the people, even those without smartphones.

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Keep the RedNeck Messiah Mormon Clown out of the White House.

November 21 2011 at 11:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


It is a good start-----However you have forgotten some important issues such as:
1. Congress shall not accept bribes from lobbyists and vote in favor of the bills that lobbyists trying to buy their support by campaign contributions
2. Members of Congress are prohibited from acquiring stock in which they have early and insider information. (Examples: Pelosi and Bohener as seen in 60 Minutes)
3. Once the members of congress leave their positions, they shall not be part of any loobbyist group for a period of 6 years.

November 21 2011 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

:t congress want to changes for us retirement at 68- they can retire after 4 years in office ? Kiss my ass_essmen­t - your running for offices why ? to get gov retirement -health care ,a check every month for screwing up ? I call it helping yourself's
debt ceiling
Warren Buffet

Congressio­nal Reform Act of 2011
1. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressma­n/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no
pay when they're out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) must participat­es in Social

All funds in the Congressio­nal retirement fund move to the
Social Security system immediatel­y. All future funds flow into
the Social Security system, and Congress participat­es with the
American people.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressio­nal pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and
participat­es in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressme­n/women are void
effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this
contract with Congressme­n/women.

Congressme­n/women made all these contracts for themselves­. Serving in
Congress is an honor, not a career.
The Founding Fathers
envisioned citizen legislator­s, so ours should serve their
term(s), then go home ..


November 21 2011 at 8:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Hey, does anyone want to learn how to save more shopping at Kohls than Wal-Mart? First, go to Ebay and purchase $10.00 off $10.00 coupons for $1.00 or less ea. Then look online for an extra 15, 20 or 30% off weekend pass you can print. You can then combine the two when u check out. It's that simple. I get free stuff all the time. And after you do this, compare prices with Wal-Mart. You will find that toys, clothing, house items are way much cheaper in the end.

November 21 2011 at 4:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
*~* Any *~*

Hmm... If I could order what I want from a long shopping list, and arrive with it all waiting on me..then this would be a good idea. THAT would be utilizing technology AND giving humans jobs.

November 20 2011 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Since not everyone has a home computer, smart phone or access to one, this might not be as dumb as it sounds. A lot of people don't even have credit cards or bank accounts either, so a store that takes cash for internet orders might be a good idea too.

November 20 2011 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

a "real on-line store" i guess as the up coming generations are separated from grab a hold of and shake reality, their electronic gadgets will be the "real thing"

November 20 2011 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Hinckley

What kind of a goofy shopping mall charges you to park? Must be another "Kalifornia" thing. :-(

November 20 2011 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really miss the old days when you could get somthing you wanted and be able to touch and feel it before you hand over the credit card numbers.

November 20 2011 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have become to hate the internet for shopping. Because most of the big box stores don't stock anything anymore. What really sucks is I love photography and all the stores that useed to stock lens and out tools have gone out of bussiness. You go to best buy and ask a question they look at you like your stupid and have no idea. Plus they don't stock any higher end lens. Just the cheap consumer crap. Most resently I went out looking for a new MP3 player my ipod is dead and im not paying to replace it or repair it. Its not worth the high cost. I went to every big box store and found nothing but crap on the shelves. I real

November 20 2011 at 2:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply