Mobile bar codes are increasingly gaining momentum and companies such as Toys R Us and Glamour are placing them on billboards and walls – providing consumers another way to shop their favorite products.
Although the technology is still emerging, it certainly has the opportunity to change the way consumers shop. Brands and marketers are beginning to see the potential of mobile bar codes and are using them in their marketing strategies.
“The immediacy of being able to purchase something you see advertised in a magazine or other out-of-home signage allows consumers to conveniently purchase the product on-the-spot, without having to search or step foot into a store,” said Nicole Skogg, CEO of SpyderLynk, New York .
“We believe that the use of mobile bar codes overall, especially mcommerce-enabled bar codes, will continue to grow as consumers become more familiar with the technology,” she said. “Adoption rates will also continue to grow as marketers think more strategically about the use of bar codes and become more focused on delivering value.
“Well-executed, mobile bar codes drive consumer consideration and help position a brand as relevant and enticing. Poorly executed mobile bar codes, at best, serve to frustrate consumers and, at worst, are ignored all together.”
On the go shopping
Last year, Toys R Us rolled out a virtual store that let consumers scan QR codes featured on billboards and shop the company’s 2011 Hot Toy List.
On-the-go commuters and travelers in the New York metro area were encouraged to take part in the initiative. The billboards were located in John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and nearly 40 NJ Transit Stations feature the showcased items (see story).
Most recently, Glamour unveiled its Apothecary Wall that features products from Unilever and Juicy Couture.
The Apothecary Wall has SpyderLynk Snaptags next to each product. Users are encouraged to download Glamour’s Friends & Fans iPhone app to scan the mobile bar code and buy the featured product right then and there.
“Placement is critical to success in adoption rates,” Ms. Skogg said. “One of our key messages to our clients is that the placement of a mobile bar code will drive usage.
“Engaged media such as magazines, email, online and street teams at events will drive higher response rates than passive media such as event displays and out-of-home signage like a billboard – which is typically passed by rather than viewed from a closer proximity while standing still, making it difficult for consumers to engage,” she said. “There are much more creative ways to deploy bar codes with the Apothecary Wall being an excellent example.
“Glamour’s innovative use of the Apothecary Wall allowed them to extend the reach of the magazine, while making it fun for consumers to shop on-the-spot. By recreating a shopping isle with a 2D design, the Apothecary Wall was intuitive, approachable and easy for consumers to interact with.”
There is an increase in the sophistication of mobile bar codes and their implementation compared to last year.
Brands and marketers are incorporating mobile bar codes across their entire marketing mix.
This comprehensive approach to mobile is giving marketers the ability to model, segment and better target consumers.
Mobile commerce-enabled mobile bar codes give retailers the opportunity to extend the reach of their bricks-and-mortar retail outlets.
“We are beginning to see mobile bar codes have an impact on the retail experience however, there is still much consumer education and awareness needed for mobile bar codes to really change the way consumers shop,” said Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia Technologies, Boulder, CO.
“Many major global brands and retailers, such as Calvin Klein, McDonalds, Macy’s and Target, have helped to increase this awareness by taking advantage of the ability mobile bar codes provide to bring engagement and interactivity to a consumer’s experience with a brand,” she said.
“By simply scanning the mobile bar code, consumers can instantly access an unlimited amount of data on the brand and product of interest – from product information and reviews to special offers – but further integration with a brand or retailer’s existing loyalty, CRM or couponing implementations will also help to drive consumer uptake.”
According to Ms. Marriott, mobile bar codes provide an easy, instant means to connect with the brand.
“I believe we will see significant uptake of these services,” Ms. Marriott said. “Mobile bar codes still have a bit of the newness factor and are fun to engage with, which definitely also helps to drive interactions.
“And making the shopping experience even more accessible to consumers via mobile bar codes, is definitely a winning combination,” she said. “We do expect to see these types of initiatives becoming more commonplace in the next year, which will help consumers become more comfortable with using their mobile to scan and buy on the go.
“In 2012 we should expect to see a rise in mobile bar code scanning implementations resulting in greater consumer participation, expanded loyalty initiatives and an overall enhanced consumer experience when in-store – much more than a simple resolution to a Web URL. Coupled with this, we expect to see hardware solutions in retail support mobile bar code scanning on a much wider basis in 2012.”
Mobile bar codes make shoppers more intelligent wherever they may be.
Consumers access more relevant content based on what their specific interests.
Additionally, with mobile bar codes shoppers can now access product reviews and price comparisons via their mobile device. This allows them to make more informed decisions on the spot when making a purchase.
“We do see some customers getting more comfortable buying products on their mobile devices, but we are not at the mass adoption level yet,” said Mike Wehrs, CEO of Scanbuy, New York. “Thousands of people made purchases through our app over the holidays as they were scanning UPC codes from products, but there are many ways for retailers to harness that activity.
“Virtual shops are a growing phenomenon which can really enable someone to buy from anywhere,” he said.
The transition from carrying big, clunky wallets to a payment-enabled mobile device is beginning to revolutionize how consumers shop.
Of course, there is no set standard for mobile payments technology quite yet.
Isis and Google are both working on their versions of the mobile wallet using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, and PayPal is working on a cloud-based mobile payment initiative. Companies like Square and Intuit also help small businesses process payments via their mobile phones, and there are QR code-based payments in the marketplace, like LevelUp, where individuals are assigned their own unique QR code to pay with. In addition, companies like card.io and Jumio allow consumers to make payments by scanning the credit card with your smartphone’s camera.
With that being said, the future looks bright for companies in the mobile payment industry. Here’s why:
- Mobile payments in 2011 topped $558 million in investment, up from $276 million in 2010, according to research firm Rutberg & Company.
- eMarketer projects that 37.5 million U.S. consumers ages 14 and up will make at least one purchase on their mobile phones in 2012.
- eBay predicts it will do $8 billion in mobile gross merchandise volume and $7 billion in mobile total payment volume in 2012.
- PayPal exceeded expectations for 2011, reaching $4 billion in mobile payment volume, and with more than 17 million customers regularly making a purchase through their mobile phone.
- PayPal is also expanding its new mobile wallet trial services to more than 2,000 Home Depot stores across the U.S., allowing consumers to pay for items at checkout via mobile device or through PayPal and exposing thousands of people to mobile payment technology.
The merge of mobile and money has made huge progress in the past year, which means retailers who embrace it will have a leg up on their competitors.
How will mobile commerce benefit the retailers bottom line?
Mobile payments add value and convenience to the consumer. They will also facilitate the implementation of deals and offers through text messaging or apps, which will ultimately drive customer loyalty.
The problem, however, is that consumers still trust their credit card companies and banks to drive mobile payments.
However, KPMG’s fifth annual Consumers and Convergence survey has found that 23% of US consumers are now “very willing” to use their mobile phones as a wallet, and a study by Javelin Strategy & Research and PaymentOne found that 4 out of 5 consumers would spend more online if offered an easier and more secure way to pay.
Without a doubt, mobile is a very personalized channel that businesses can use to directly interact with their customers, and mobile payments help enhance the in-store experience for consumers.
As consumer attitudes about mobile payments start shifting, we will be seeing more and more people ditching their wallets.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday yielded a high volume of engagement in mobile commerce among consumers, and its popularity and usage is expected to soar even higher as the holiday season continues.
On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many large retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart offered staggering deals to encourage customers to shop online, which in turn produced an increase in purchases made on mobile devices.
A study by Motricity showed that 70% of mobile device-shoppers made more purchases from their smartphone in 2011 than they did in 2010.
We’ve said it before, but this may prove to be the biggest year for mobile commerce thus far.
- Mobile platforms were responsible for 14.3% of all online shopping traffic on Black Friday, according to IBM.
- Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day brought record mobile engagement for PayPal, with over 500% increases in global mobile payment volume compared to 2010.
- On Black Friday, mobile shopping was led by Apple, with the iPhone and iPad ranking one and two for consumers shopping on mobile devices, according to IBM.
- By 3PM E.S.T on Cyber Monday, mobile users had accounted for 7.7% of all online shoppers, which more than tripled last year’s numbers, according to Dow Jones.
If you’re a brand, small business, or large retailer, take advantage of all the mobile shoppers. Shoppers are going to continue looking for deals and discounts into December as they’re finishing up their holiday shopping, so make sure to leverage mobile marketing to reach those consumers by doing the following:
- Create a mobile-friendly website for shoppers surfing the Web for deals on their mobile devices.
- Issue mobile coupons through text messaging to target the consumers looking for deep discounts.
- Implement QR codes at the point-of-sale to encourage customer interaction.
- Consider the different ways in which consumers interact on their mobile devices, including peak days of the week and times of day that they browse the Web, send text messages, check their social networking sites, look for coupons, etc.
Retailers, businesses, and brands— gear up for the rest of the holiday season. Shoppers are going to be active on their mobile devices, so take advantage of users’ increased mobile engagement during the holidays by creating an integrated campaign that reinforces your message, raises awareness, and creates excitement so that consumers will want to engage with you.
Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia, shares her expertise in mobile marketing by providing a few pointers on how businesses should implement QR codes.
Mobile barcodes are turning up everywhere – buses, magazines, television, bar coasters. According to recent research from comScore, 14 million U.S. mobile phone users scanned QR or barcodes in June alone, mostly via newspapers, magazines and product packaging, both at home and in-store. My company’s own data reveals that barcodes that offer access to a discount or coupon or that allow the consumer to learn more about a product or service are the most popular.
Given that mobile barcodes are finally cracking the mainstream, they have enormous potential to present brands with brilliant results. Here are five mobile barcode best practices to help ensure a successful campaign.
1. Be Everywhere
Mobile barcodes should be incorporated into all digital and traditional media so the consumer has 360-degree exposure to the mobile marketing campaign. This will also ensure that consumer experience, dialogue and interactivity are at the heart of the campaign and not simply an afterthought.
2. Drive Value and Make it Easy
Giveaways, discounts, free tickets and exclusive access will compel consumers to interact with and scan your code. If your code simply offers the customer a chance to view a TV advertisement or link to a website, it’s best to try again. Scanning a barcode should provide the consumer with a brand experience that is exclusive, dynamic and interactive.
Take into account where a mobile barcode is located on the ad. Consumers must be able to find it easily and scan it quickly. For outdoor ads, place the code at eye or arm-level. In a print ad, the barcode should not fall over a fold as this will hamper scanning. Be sure to leave some white space around the mobile barcode, and use a minimum of 1 x 1-inch print specification. For TV or cinema, the code should to remain onscreen long enough for the viewer to launch the scanning application and scan the code.
3. Keep it Simple
Branded or custom QR codes are certainly getting some buzz, but it’s also important to create a code everyone can recognize. Producing your code in simple black and white checkered format will increase the number of phones and code readers that can scan it. Also, ensure you use global, open standards (i.e. Datamatrix) to maximize universal customer reach and impact.
4. Build Customer Affinity
Remember that the consumer who has just scanned your code is on the move. She will be viewing the brand content on a mobile screen and, therefore, expects instant results. Make sure the barcode links through to a mobile-enabled site rather a PC-designed site. Remember that “dead links” (codes that go nowhere or deliver the wrong information) are the equivalent of a slammed door — the consumer will not try again.
Matthias Galica, the CEO of ShareSquare, provides tips for marketers and brands using QR codes, and specifically emphasizes testing a barcode for functionality across a variety of devices and scanner applications before launching. It’s important, especially because the consumers that scan codes are likely tech-savvy and vocal — the kind of consumers you want on your side.
5. Account for Objectives and Analytics
Boost sales, increase customer engagement, build brand loyalty, educate your audience. Whatever the campaign objective, be sure to define its goals before integrating a mobile barcode. Consider monitoring the campaign via a barcode management platform. Your business will be able to leverage the provider’s expertise, better assess your campaign effectiveness and evaluate its real-time success through analytics.