QR codes enhance the in-store experience

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QR codes enhance the in-store experience
QR codes enhance the in-store experience

Retailer Pacific Sunwear placed its first quick response (QR) codes in stores and on print ads in March, linking to a mobile flipbook that allowed consumers to look at its new board short and swimwear lines. The codes allow retailers to enhance consumers' in-store experience while collecting valuable consumer data. 

"You can only say so much on a store display, and sales associates aren't 
always available — though, of course, we'd like them to be," says Tim Katz, senior online operations manager at the company, who added that PacSun will build a QR code scanner into its first mobile app in May to enhance the customer experience. "We definitely want to create a personal shopping experience by really empowering the customers to explore and understand at a deeper level what the story is behind the merchandising or the marketing. It just lends itself to a higher level of selling opportunity."

PacSun's campaign is indicative of how retailers are using QR codes to help them immediately communicate product information while a consumer is in a purchasing mindset. For retailers, the in-store initiatives are a step 
up from the way marketers have traditionally used QR codes to deliver 
content to consumers away from points of purchase. 

Macy's helped consumers understand their fashion choices when it launched QR codes on in-store signage for clothing and cosmetics brands in February. When customers scanned the codes, they received fashion help from experts such as Tommy Hilfiger, Bobbi Brown and Rachel Roy, who demonstrated how to wear particular products. 

The predominant goal of the "Backstage Pass" campaign was to facilitate the purchasing process, explains 
Orlando Veras, media relations manager at Macy's. 

Home Depot takes work out of shopping


The Home Depot began to tag its patio sets and live goods products, such as plants and flowers, with QR codes in March to deliver product information and usage guides to consumers. The home improvement chain developed the QR code initiative to influence the purchasing process by giving consumers access to information that “could be part of a deciding factor in a purchase decision,” says Mike Wehrs, president and CEO of Scanbuy, who helped develop the initiative.

"People are browsing through the products and if they are looking at a print and don't really know how they would wear it, Rachel Roy is there to tell them how to do that," he says. "And then they'll feel confident in buying that item." 

QR codes can also help marketers collect consumer data that can inform in-store merchandising, says Jason Taylor, VP of platform strategy at mobile services firm Usablenet, which worked with PacSun on its mobile initiative. "The thing that gets marketers excited about QR codes is the ability to use them to create a sort of map of physical value," he says. "In-store gives them another indication of where and at what products people are looking." 

Taylor adds that by affixing a unique QR code to each product, a retailer can "start to create demographics about what products consumers want to get more information about so you can begin to address that in-store for everybody else."

Pacific Sunwear hasn't yet used QR codes at that granular level, but Katz says "it's definitely something we're 
interested in exploring further." 

Marketers can also collect data through in-store QR codes to enable targeted remarketing. Mike Wehrs, president and CEO of mobile barcode platform developer Scanbuy, says marketers can view when and where a product was scanned and what other items queried by a particular phone, as long as a consumer has opted in. When a consumer opts in, they can link their QR code reader with a loyalty membership, allowing marketers to tailor future communications to his or her past in-store browsing history. 

Wehrs adds that it's also possible for marketers to harness a smartphone's
location-awareness. "We know consumers are in a store," he says, "so perhaps in addition to the product information, you push a coupon saying, 'If you buy this in the next half-hour, you'll get a 5% off coupon.'" 

Retailers are also continuing to use QR codes in their out-of-store marketing efforts. Late last year, Sears Holdings Corp. added QR codes to its traditional print holiday season Wish Book. Consumers were able to scan the codes for more production information and videos from the company. Sears said at the time that it added the technology to the Wish Book to give consumers more opportunities to interact with the brand and make it more fun to shop.


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