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Maximising the potential of QR codes

These days Quick Response (QR) codes can be seen everywhere – from till receipts to billboard advertising and even in store.

While the technology is nothing new, a whole new shopping experience is being created on the back of this mobile technology.

The biggest challenge to the growth of QR codes has been the adoption rate amongst consumers. While they are becoming more aware of the function of the codes, there is still the issue of QR code blindness.

QR codes have become more widely used over the past few years as more advanced QR readers have been released as downloadable apps. This technology can really start to reach a tipping point once the leading handsets begin to offer built in readers. With these already installed in devices, retailers would be able to benefit from increased awareness and accessibility of QR activity.

Retailers have been able to create an interactive environment for their customers when utilising QR codes within their promotional activity. This can enhance an offline campaign in print media for example – where advertisers can provide a mobile optimised landing page where consumers can find more information around the product. To take this one stage further, by providing a fully transactional site optimised for mobile, it is possible for the consumer to purchase there and then. This technology allows retailers to become even more creative with their advertising campaigns, bringing them to life and delivering engaging content.

As well as being a valuable tool for offline advertising, QR codes can also be used effectively in store. John Lewis and Kiddycare have both launched initiatives to trial QR codes in store to drive their ‘omni-channel’ strategy. By providing QR codes visitors to their stores are able to easily access additional product information as well as reviews and promotions. With a number of retailers now offering free in store wifi, the connectivity issues that once hampered QR adoption due to slow page load times has been all but eradicated. Where retailers were once concerned about the concept of ‘show rooming’ they are now actively encouraging consumers to interact with the internet to enhance their in store shopping experience.

The development of mobile marketing strategies is really helping to build a true omni-channel experience, placing the customer at the heart of the strategy – enabling them to purchase how and where is convenient for them.  Mobile has enabled advertisers to ‘close the loop’ between online and offline whether driving footfall into physical stores or converting a consumer browsing an offline promotion through a connected device. This all lends itself to retailers being able to engage their audience in a variety of ways.

In order for retailers to ensure QR codes are more than just a gimmick, the execution needs to be carefully considered. Retailers often fall short by sending visitors through to a site not optimised for mobile. This provides a poor user experience and is not utilising the technology effectively. By offering additional content or a discount for using the code, consumers can be further encouraged to make a purchase and maximise the opportunity for acquisition through QR codes.

Retailers need to understand their audience before releasing QR codes. If their target market is not tech savvy it is questionable they will understand what a QR code is, and even less likely to have the technology to use it. If this is the case, the use of QR codes is not a relevant tactic.

With mobile commerce growing at an exceptional rate, retailers are becoming increasingly keen to develop their mobile proposition. With the move towards omni-channel retailing, QR codes can have a key role to play. By providing them in store or within print advertising, retailers are able to provide consumers with an interactive experience.

Matt Swan, Client Strategist, Affiliate Window

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