Using QR Codes as a Data-Rich Tool in Marketing

A QR code is probably the most recognizable type of barcode around today. You’ve surely seen the array of black and white squares and squiggles on stickers or in your favorite shop or restaurant with a call to action. What many people don’t know is the difference between a QR code and traditional barcode is that a QR code has the capability to retain much more data than a regular barcode. QR codes allow businesses to connect online customers and mobile customers to their brick and mortar store by linking them to online information about their products or brand.

How Do Retailers Use QR Codes?

Retailers have found several creative ways to give their customers information through QR codes. Some place QR codes on the tags of in-store items, allowing customers to scan the code and for additional product information or reviews. Some even place QR codes on social media posts, around cities, or in window displays to notify customers of special offers or events.

One Tesco store in South Korea, Home Plus, used QR codes to create great success for their brand. Home Plus created virtual stores that allowed Koreans to shop while on the go. They plastered the walls of subway stations with pictures of their products, laid out just as they would be in a traditional shop. These new virtual ‘shelves’ had actionable QR codes beside each product. Once someone scanned the code, the corresponding item would be automatically added to his or her online shopping cart, and delivered once they got home.

Turning Scanning Around

Not all QR code campaigns are as screamingly successful. QR codes are often misused by businesses. They are put up in halls with no Wi-Fi, placed on roadside billboards, or link to broken landing pages that are not optimised for mobile. Consumers are easily frustrated by these experiences, and may not bother to try to scan a QR code again after a failed attempt.

The main challenge with consumer adoption of QR codes is that most smartphones don’t have a pre-installed or stock QR code scanner. In most cases, to scan a QR code on a smartphone customers have to download a third party app. While there have been some successful case studies, such as Snapchat’s Snapcode integration within the application, many consumers skip using QR codes all together. In fact, only 21% of Americans have ever scanned a QR code.

Even when used correctly, QR codes tend to be one-way transaction. That is to say, retailers are offering up information about themselves, while little actionable information is being sent back to them. However, great results have been seen when retailers use QR codes to learn about their customers – reversing the way we typically think of QR codes being applied.

QR codes have seen tremendous success with reverse usage. In these cases, instead of the customer scanning the code to access information about a company, they present it back to the retailer at point-of-sale to be scanned, much like a coupon. This transaction gives the retailer insights into customer preferences, and allows them to begin building a more personalized consumer profile.

QR Codes as a Multi-Channel Customer Communication

Retailers are aware that they must expand the number of channels through which they market. The smart marketer today knows that they must communicate across multiple channels to create awareness, develop trust, and build loyalty. Today’s consumers expect multichannel marketing, and it has proven to be more effective than single-channel communications. In fact, an increasing number of people are using multiple channels in their buying process, and those who do purchase an average of 30 percent more.

The QR code is yet another channel to market to your customers through. The bonus is that they allow businesses to consolidate data centrally so they can create a customer profile and begin to market through all three dimensions of personalisation.

Zoë Dixon

Author Zoë Dixon

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Patty says:

    I was just thinking about the status of the good old QR code. This was the most recent blog about the subject I could find and you actually have some valid ways they can still be incorporated into a marketing strategy. However, I just don’t see it happening in the near future. Maybe in the US, the technology is still very clumsy for us to use. Thanks for sharing.

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