I walked by this storefront in the Meatpacking District late last week.

My first impression, like others on the street was—what? The big gotcha of course is that this is not a storefront at all, but the popup store itself.

It’s an interactive diorama of Kate Spade merchandise. A visualization of a giant mobile commerce site, store sized and street side. Big brand commerce wrapped up as an adult busy box for mobile shopping.

On the left side of the the window are the ‘Saturday’ line of products for sale on pegs. To the right, an over-sized touch screen complete with some funky mechanical sound effects for each action. You sort by item, check sizes and colors, confirm availability and then order.

IMG_2207This is a mobile shopping cart on growth hormones in a store window. It lets you browse, shop and purchase. To transact, you put in your cell number, and they text you a link to their mobile site to complete the sale.

The big difference, of course, is that this is literally driven by walk-by-foot-traffic, and what you buy is delivered to wherever you are in the city in an hour.

Quite cool. Clever certainly and speaks to innovations that are starting to happen on the streets of New York, as shopping enters a mobile renaissance and location based-retail gets turned on its head.

To be clear, this storefront is actually a promotion, jointly developed by Kate Spade, eBay and PayPal. It’s not a channel per se but event marketing launched a month ago to bring attention to the Saturday line of clothes, sold in-store and online.

I don’t know if the promotion is working. And I’m not certain that it it is going to sell many products through the mobile link, but there is something seriously disrupting going on.

There are a number of retail redefining concepts playing out here:

1. The web is not a place

ecommerce is not enough on its own. For all the brilliant plans to interrupt our lives with advertising, engage the enthusiasts with shareable and transactionable social objects, and the science of driving traffic online, there’s a gap between sites on the web and shoppers on the street.

Web sites just sit there. Stores wait for people to come to them. People want to buy products where they happen to be, when they feel like it. For Kate Spade, maybe that is Gansevoort Street. For New Yorkers, one-hour delivery is certainly better than standing in line to pay and schlepping stuff home.

The system of shop and buy, wait in line, pay and carry out, is vestigial behavior en route to extinction.

2. Transactions are the easy part

We’ve perfected taking payments efficiently from our customers. Transactions aren’t the issue. Connecting transactions to inventory and delivery wherever the customer may be is.

Kate Spade, consciously or not, has smashed a hole in the status quo of retail. By taking a mobile site and externalizing it onto the street, she makes it clear that this transaction, this store itself, could be just about anywhere. A wall in the subway station, even on the back of a cargo bike rolling around the neighborhood.

This is a touch screen kiosk fronting for a mobile store tied into local warehousing and delivery through the web.

Kate Spade is selling hand bags and fashion accessories. Next it could be wine or beer maybe, or who knows, a massage package arriving at the park for you with a blended green on the side and a customized I Love NY beach towel.

3. Urban markets are unique unto themselves

Kate Spade in Manhattan and in a mall in Ohio are different animals completely. Behaviorally and culturally distinct.

The most dense population centers demand their own shopping solutions. This popup might make little sense in suburban Illinois but it sure would work in Paris or Singapore. These are a massive market in their own right.

Human density is in itself an inspiration for innovation.

Cities are the perfect sandbox for discovering market proof for mobile solutions. They are quick becoming an open source petri dish for not just mobile, but a mashup of urban life, ubiquitous connectivity, transportation and shopping. Something is brewing on the streets big time.

4. Channels are nothing more than a moving consumer doorway into the supply chain

Depending on where you are and what you buy, channel is mutable to the situation.

Think about the Apple Store early innovation where the people on the floor could provide the product and handle the transaction. Primitive today but groundbreaking then.

Imagine if in store, a mobile app let’s you buy for delivery as you walk around without talking to anyone. Or try it on, get sold, then buy on the subway at a kiosk or online on the way home for delivery when you arrive. This idea of people on a personal map, carrying purchasing and organizational capabilities around with them wherever they are, connected directly into supply and delivery is unquestionably the future, unfolding right in front of us.

This is inevitable. In fact, it’s overdue as the behavior, the technology and market is already there.

5. Brand is the most powerful filter there is

This mashed up popup shop works because of the filtering power of the brand.

Not the Saturday line being introduced, but Kate Spade. Her clothes, her bags, her reputation is what let’s us plonk down dollars without trying the clothes on, seeing how the bag hangs from your shoulder. Video or no video, it’s trust and brand identification. With us giving her the ability to text us transactional links in the personal context of our cell phones.

There’s two other brand driven trends intersecting here:

–>Online brands (like Etsy) using popups to connect more directly with people where they are, not just online. Nothing builds a strong online brand and community like face to face contact in the real world.
–>Hyper local brands known in-neighborhood, moving into new locations with a low cost, highly branded and just easy model and test delivery system. Spot (even moving) distribution like these virtual popups.

These are the building blocks of the future

Mix up mobile ubiquity, transactional efficiency, predictable street traffic, brand recognition and delivery when and where you want it!  That is the joint power of mobile, and, in New York’s case, the added power of the bicycle delivery person getting there just in time.

This is a serious shake up of the traditional kiosk signage idea, connected to the mobile web on one side, people on the street delivering to you on the other.

If you live in NYC, check out these popups. The locations are here!

If you live in another dense urban area, do share variations on this theme with us. I’m certain that this is not the first of its kind but it’s the first for New York and I can assure you, many more are coming.