This post will go back and explore my Christmas experience. The experience was filled with online shopping, visiting the malls searching for that perfect gift, long lines, pushy patrons, and p.a.t.i.e.n.c.e ultimate test. Basically I’ve had to grudgingly forced myself through the holiday retail experience musing about tripping the next jerk to bump into me, cut me off, or staying too long at the massaging demo chair when they get up to leave. But I do really enjoy times like these for the creativity that some brands and stores use to lure customers. Even though the lure is still uncertain, the latest is the QR Code.
Lately I’ve seen more QR Codes beginning to appear in retail stores. QR Codes are new to the U.S. but have making some progress in Europe and Asia for a while now. Being naturally curious and lover of marketing tactics, I started scanning these codes to see how they were used strategically to promote a brand or product. To my surprise all of them took me to the retailer’s online site. At least some had enough foresight to create or at least direct it to a mobile page. But does anyone else see a problem with this tactic? Here I am, standing in a building, on an expensive piece of land, full of inventory, 10 -20 people on staff and their QR Code takes me to their retail site with no other connection to the store I’m physically standing in. The only message I get here is that I can do this from home. Why did I come into the store at all? I see this message as a cannibalistic approach to your own business. A report by Compete indicated while consumers are increasingly purchasing more online, 44 percent stated that though they may research electronics online they prefer to purchase in-store; at least they have that going for them. I was not able to immediately find a report to create a trend but I’m going to assume their current QR tactics will only drive that number down.
Surprisingly, that same report also addressed immediacy of ownership (50%), physically interact with the product (57%), and avoid shipping costs (62%) as the top reasons consumers purchase in-store. I expected to see immediacy quite a bit higher, while shipping costs never even crossed my radar. But these should be the things that a physical retail store focus on in the near future. Any message from the store should address one, if not all, of these categories then carried out in their marketing efforts. To continue to encourage consumers to visit the physical stores, these stores should be viewed less as a distribution center and begin to look at themselves as “product experience centers” to create connections with their brands and aiding immersion into the selling product’s brand.
Enter the QR Code – My simplest explanation of a QR Code is a graphical representation of a URL or limited scripted data captured through a smart phone camera to drive people primarily to a web site or share contact information, though not entirely limited to those listed. Get it? … ok, so back to retailing. Most importantly the QR Code could tap into the 57% that wish to physically interact with the product by driving them to an interactive mobile web experience. So now we know who to target. Next would be using the QR Codes to create a unique experience that aids in the purchase decision with the product that they can’t get anywhere else; messages from celebrities, self-directed demos, in-store discounts or bundles, sweepstakes entries, behind the scenes shots, video demo of a sales assistant doing a product walk through, and even in-store integration. Now we have content that allows consumers to interact with the product and brands in a new way. Ok so not exactly a cheap concept for a retail company to undertake alone but many co-branding efforts are currently used and this would also benefit both parties and would be crucial for brand immersion. Next the immediacy of ownership could be addressed through in-store integration. Finally tying all of this together in an easy mobile web experience. Shipping costs were a large contributor to in-store shopping but would not be viable to address as it again attacks the retailer’s own revenue stream.
Do see QR Codes as an improvement to the retail customer experience?
TO BE CONTINUED…
In part two I’ll cover how in-store integration and mobile web can tie all of this to a single QR Code and business operations.
Trademark disclaimer -"QR Code" is a trademark of Denso-Wave Inc. Reference list: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Eight-out-of-Ten-Consumers-Shop-Online-at-Least-Once-a-Week-1310629.htm http://www.retailcustomerexperience.com/article/178741/Study-shows-shopper-behavior-shifting-to-more-online-purchases http://www.paymentsnews.com/2010/08/eight-out-of-ten-us-consumers-shop-online-at-least-once-a-week.html http://www.searchandise.net/blog/bid/36307/Online-Research-and-the-Path-to-Purchase http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=145226 http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/global-online-shopping-report http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=83192&p=IROL-reportsannual