July 1, 2011

QR Code Marketing and Retail Stores

Posted by Robert L Stockham in Independent Grocer


Scan this.  Go ahead.  If you have a smart phone and a bar code scanning application, you can scan it right from your desk.  In case you do not know what this is, it is a QR code.  QR stands for Quick Reference and is basically a bar code that holds up to 7000 characters.  Developed in Japan in the 90’s, it has really started to catch on here with the addition of bar code scanning technology for i-Phones.  This technology has been used for a while for things like Accounts Receivable departments and airline tickets. The availability of smartphone applications has made the QR a technology that is making its way into our daily lives.  I created my first QR code as an alternative to making sure their business cards in my pocket.  At trade shows and networking events, contacts can scan my QR code to add my information to their phone, visit our website, and forward information to their friends.


Now the QR code is making a huge difference in the way we market products.  As an artist, I add them to my pricing tags, so attendees to my shows can pull up my photography website right there in the gallery.  But I am not the first.  Calvin Klein has replaced its expensive billboards in NYC with QR codes, allowing commuters to scan the code from a train, car or bus, and go right to the website and buy products.  I heard that many retailers had started receiving QR code tags on the necks of their fine wine bottles.  This allowed consumers to look up the wine’s rating at Wine Spectator or visit the makers site for tasting notes, all from their phone.


I just read a great article in DDI magazine October issue, by George Wishart.  In it, he talks about how QR codes are making marketing at the shelf realistic and viable for retailers.  Coupon machines and videos in the aisle were never the success that most retailers had hoped, but with the rise of the smart phone, shoppers can now find out more about nutritional values, compare pricing, even get cooking tips.  Retailers are finding out that this is a great way to cross merchandise their products, create promotions, and even give sustainability information.


As a retailer are you using QR codes to market to your customers?  In the fiercely competitive environment of grocery and retail, a QR campaign could be the technology that gives you the advantage.  A QR code in the meat department with a wine recommendation for the tenderloin on sale could add another $10-$20 in the cart.  That featured end cap could be just the spot for a QR code with a recipe to increase sales.  What about a QR code at the front door that gives customers a shopping list for their Thanksgiving meal basics?  Your in-store circular could soon be replaced by a QR code at the front entrance where consumers can see link to your website and see what is on sale this week.  How much could save in printing costs over the course of a year?  How will you take advantage of this cheap and easy to manage technology to make the most of your consumer marketing?


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