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Clarks aims to double mobile traffic with QR codes roll-out

Clarks will put QR codes in all of its shop windows next year following the launch of its m-commerce site at the end of last month. 

The footwear retailer will roll out QR codes across its more than 1,000 UK and Republic of Ireland stores in January, which will direct shoppers to its mobile site, giving them access to its full offer without visiting stores.

Richard Houlton, director of channels at Clarks, said he expected to double the amount of mobile traffic by introducing a mobile-optimised site. Clarks.co.uk currently has about 500,000 visitors each week, with about 8% of those coming via mobile phones.  

He said: “The desire is to capture the consumer and be relevant whenever and wherever they are.”

Houlton added that Clarks decided to launch a mobile-optimised site because an increasing number of visitors were visiting its regular site via mobile devices. However, mobile conversion rates were suffering because the site was difficult to navigate.

The mobile site, which is fully transactional and features the full product range as well as a search function so users can locate their nearest store, has surprised Houlton in terms of sales. Despite only being live for a short time, its sales performance was equivalent to a medium-sized store, he said.

However, as a current percentage of overall turnover, sales via mobile are “almost nothing”.

Clarks expects to attract younger customers by opening up mobile as a sales channel. “There is a younger demographic with smart phones so a mobile site will attract younger consumers,” said Houlton.

The retailer, which saw operating profits for the UK and all markets other than North America drop 37.2% from £36.7m to £23m in the six months to July 31, is also looking at developing a complementary app.

Mobile phones are becoming an important sales avenue for retailers. Sales via mobile devices, including tablets, accounted for 3.9% of ecommerce sales for the third quarter, according to figures from etail trade body IMRG released this week.

Visits to websites via mobiles grew 585% while sales via mobiles grew 975% between the first quarter in 2010 and 2011’s third quarter.

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