QR Codes and Retail

Retailers have it tough, especially when talking about bricks and mortar retailers. Not only do they have to compete with the Internet to get customers into the store, but, with smart phones, they have to compete with the Internet once customers are in the stores as well. It is not uncommon for someone to expect a bricks and mortar store, which has had to ship and store the merchandise in question, to match the prices of an online retailer, which is simply not a sustainable business model for the retailer. The consumer, on the other hand, does not really care about the well being of the retailer as he has his own wallet to worry about. It is indeed a difficult time for retailers as people try and figure out the appropriate balance between physical stores and online ones, and in the meantime it seems QR codes do something to keep the physical stores afloat.

Get ‘Em in the Door

The most challenging part of running a retail establishment is enticing people to enter the store in the first place. A good percentage of foot traffic is incidental, meaning that most of the people that visit a given store, especially if that store is in a mall, visit because something about the store made them want to go in. Without that traffic, most stores would go under, so retail establishments around the world are eager to see what QR codes can do to help with this problem. 

Most store windows feature a sign that says what is on sale and what percentage off. No matter the color and size, most of the time these posters will go ignored. The modern consumer is savvy and has learned to read the fine print without having to read it, and one of the unwritten rules is usually the bigger the sign the worse the deal. What people cannot anticipate or (if they choose to scan the code) ignore is a strategically placed QR code. A message as simple as “Check out our daily deals” next to a QR code might make all the difference in the world.

Make ‘Em Buy

Of course, much to many retailers chagrin, there is no physical way of making customers buy something before they leave, but with most of the fight already won in getting them in the door, they owe it to themselves to get the customer to buy something. Interspersing QR codes with coupons and more information throughout the store will get people (people who incidentally had enough money to buy a pretty expensive smart phone) to scan that code, get the coupon, and they are then much more likely to buy something before they leave. It is something like adding a personal touch in an impersonal society, when even customers do not always want to talk to clerks. Finally, the retailer would be able to track the amount of scans versus the amount of sales to the people who scanned and determine the effectiveness of their marketing strategy.

QR Codes at Macy’s and Target



by Michael Costa