NEW YORK: Immediate retail gratification is emerging as a new digital play, with developments ranging from scanning barcodes to tapping icons in digital magazines.

Peapod, an Illinois-based online grocery delivery service has, for example, recently added a feature to its mobile app that allows customers to restock items. Simply scanning the barcode of an empty or finished item places it in a virtual basket.

And credit card MasterCard is partnering with publisher Condé Nast in a venture called ShopThis, which will enable digital readers to instantly buy items described in an article or showcased in an advertisement by tapping a shopping cart icon on the page which begins a purchase process via

Further down the line, Paydiant, a mobile payments platform, has developed technology whereby it will be possible for television viewers to scan QR codes from the screen to redeem a coupon or buy something that has attracted them in a commercial.

"Once you can go directly to consumers, there's always the possibility of disintermediating one of the middlemen," Chris Gardner, a co-founder of Paydiant, told the New York Times.

And it is not only traditional retailers that could be affected, as the paper noted that brands could be reluctant to buy advertising in digital publication "that may be highlighting a competitor's product with technology that allows a click through to an instant sale".

Condé Nast will launch ShopThis in the November issue of Wired and publisher Howard Mittman was confident advertisers would welcome the product. "This is a moment of opportunity to provide better service to our advertisers," he said.

Garry Lyons, chief innovation officer at MasterCard added that "any device is potentially a device of commerce".

He explained that ShopThis could be used when watching a movie or video. "You see an actor who has a nice shirt on, you activate ShopThis," he said.

Colin Grimshaw, editor of Admap, noted in the October 2013 issue, devoted to the future of shopper marketing, that "the path to purchase becomes ever more labyrinthine, and at the same time, shorter". Shorter because the purchase process was speeding up as the consumer, armed with mobile aids, researched and made decisions and purchases rapidly.

Consequently, he argued that it was vital that the marketing communication reached every touchpoint and responded to purchase behavioural signs in an instant in order to avoid the consumer being diverted.

Data sourced from New York Times, Admap; additional content by Warc staff