Trends in Interactive Media for Ecommerce: QR Codes

Posted by Victoria Elizabeth 2 Oct 13

shutterstock_74086840This post is the third in a 4-part series on trends in interactive media for ecommerce and how the high streetcan use QR, AR and NFC technology to complement, share and inform their online shops. This post will focus on QR codes and how this technology can be used in the world of ecommerce. Here are the last two posts if you'd like to read them first:

Trends in Interactive Media for Ecommerce: NFC

Trends in Interactive Media for Ecommerce: AR


QR Code Facts

QR, or Quick Response, codes are those little black and white squares that appear pixilated, and that you can find on printed advertisements almost anywhere nowadays. While many people have heard of QR codes, they are most popular in countries that have large smartphone populations, like Japan (where they originated) and the US. In the UK, QR codes are quickly becoming a common advertising feature, and worldwide there have been 105 million QR codes scanned as of Q2 2013. Here are some other facts you may not have known about QR codes:

Scanlife, a mobile engagement provider that leads the market with about a 20% share of customers, has produced an infographic for their Q2 2013 metrics illustrating the following points:  
  • 60% of scans came from the Android OS compared to 37% on Apple iOS devices. With Android QR users roughly twice as big as their iPhone equivalent, this is an important factor for retailers when determining when/if to implement a campaign. 
  • Food and Bev still ranks # 1 in industries using QR codes in marketing campaigns, while Retail is in 3rd place behind Internet companies. However, coupons and prizes still account for the top QR campaigns that consumers like, and there is much that retailers can do to carry this trend into ecommerce.
  • Men tend to dominate QR code usage, and account for more than double the amount of female users in the 35-44 age range. Also, while 25-34 and 35-44 year olds account for half the market, the growth of engaging campaigns is pulling in younger smartphone users as well.

QR Codes for Ecommerce

Where QR codes will get interesting for British ecommerce is in the fashion retail industry. The UK fashion industry accounts for roughly 21 billion GBP annually, and with close to half of adult clothing shoppers purchasing online in the UK this year, that amounts to quite a thriving ecommerce industry.

QR codes have the potential to bring online retail sales to another level by continuing to bridge the gap between off and online stores. The growing trend of multi and omnichannel shopping is also quite conducive to the adoption of QR campaigns, and we are seeing more companies implementing them in creative ways. The value behind QR codes in ecommerce is in their ability to drive people towards something of value to both consumers and retailers. However, their limited capacity to store information means that they must be used for specific and engaging promotions, and not just additional information that could easily be found in other ways.

Popular Campaigns 

There have been a number of well-known retailers already employing this relatively cheap technology in their marketing, and they have brought attention to QR codes to consumers in the UK. Some of my favourites include: 
  1. Tesco Gatwick
  2. John Lewis and Waitrose
  3. Macy’s and PacSun

These are just some examples of QR code campaigns that have already been implemented. Although some have been more successful than others, it is easier to see the value in QR codes from these precedents.

Where is the Future Heading?

While some tech trendsetters are bemoaning the death of the QR code, and others claim it is only beginning to surface in popularity, the truth is that QR codes are only a single contender in the industry of mobile engagement and interactive digital media. Because the QR code and mobile app making industry are so closely tied together, there will always be those in the industry who want to promote it, and those outside who see things differently. Today, the QR code is on the upward swing in terms of user engagement and marketing campaign absorption, and it will continue to grow if marketers follow these best practices:

  • Add value – make sure your QR codes lead visitors to a unique experience, not just a homepage. Make sure that both parties will get something out of the experience.
  • Think carefully about where your customers like to spend time, and make sure that campaigns are placed in a visually appealing and common area that visitors can easily reach. If your QR code is in a printed text like a magazine, make sure it is well integrated into the whole advertisement, and not just left to the corner.
  • Make sure the landing pages you link to mobile optimised, as this is pretty much the only place that QR codes are used. Having an ugly site will create a bad impression and drive people away from your campaign, or even worse, your brand.
  • Leave instructions for people so that they know what to do with the QR code. Although the general look of QR codes is recognizable, it may not be clear where the value in them lies, so make sure visitors know they will get something (even if it's a surprise) if they scan your code.

These best practices will make sure that your QR code campaigns run smoothly and create value for your company and customers. The most important aspect however, still lies in how creative campaigns are, and how marketers continue to use them for attracting people to both on and offline stores. 

Stay tuned next week for the last installment of this series on interactive media for ecommerce. And if you would like to receive more ecommerce tips, trends and news, enter your details below to subscribe to our blog:


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