Despite criticism, the QR code continues to be a major player in the evolution of mobile commerce.
But while many Fortune 500 advertisers may have embraced the QR code in their marketing efforts, the restaurant industry has proven a relatively late adopter of the technology.
When used to power speedier transactions and provide timely information, the QR code is a useful tool for restaurateurs seeking to augment the customer experience. On takeout menus, dine-in menus and real world advertising, the QR code has a purposeful place in the restaurant experience.
As any supporter of QR codes, near field communication (NFC) chips, or augmented reality will tell you, the key is the destination, not the mode of transportation. It doesn’t matter if information is delivered with zero friction, if the information itself isn’t wanted, it won’t pay off.
Are QR codes just a marketing fad, or can the mobile technology deliver real value for restaurants and consumers at the right place and at the right time? Here are four ways QR codes can be effectively leveraged in a restaurant environment to improving the overall dining experience.
1. Mobile Ordering
Ordering food from a smartphone is incredibly convenient. It is sub-optimal to have to speak to a live person, who is juggling multiple roles in a restaurant, dealing with customers face-to-face and handling several ringing phone lines.
Enter the QR-coded takeout menu. Restaurants realize that the printed takeout menu is still one of the most effective ways to elicit food orders. It’s tangible, colorful, holds a lot of information and is easily shared. Adding a QR code to the menu triggers a mobile ordering experience. That way, restaurants can marry the best of old and new technology and make the traditional takeout menu digitally interactive.
Or prompt a customer to complete a takeout order online, at which point she’ll receive a custom-generated QR code to be scanned at the point-of-sale. The Melt handles orders by generating QR codes that help consumers skip the ordering line.
2. Links to Photos and Social Media
Ever stare at a text-based menu and wonder what a particular dish actually looks like? A QR code strategically placed on a dine-in menu has the ability to take consumers to additional information. The QR code could lead to photos with dish names, to the restaurant’s Yelp listing, or to Twitter and Facebook links to encourage social media sharing.
On takeout menus and any real world advertising, the QR code can trigger links to a wealth of useful information. In this manner, the QR code is not a marketing gimmick, but a bona fide mechanism to provide interested parties with information on which they can act.
The mobile landing page launched by the QR code on a takeout menu could include hours, contact information, a map and directions. Special offers and feedback forms could also be part of the mobile-optimized experience.
Additionally, most QR readers have a history tab that logs previously visited sites, so the information, once scanned, could be referenced later.
3. Different Restaurants, Different QR Code Applications
The QR code can be utilized effectively by a variety of different restaurant types, from fine dining to casual, from fast food to food trucks.
A fine dining establishment might wish to use the QR code in a city guide advertisement, which leads to its online reservations system and photos of the interior of the restaurant.
A fast food restaurant could add the QR code to a table tent ad, leading to a special promotion in exchange for an email address.
And food trucks could affix a QR code to the side of the vehicle to help people skip the line, should they wish to order and pay through their smartphones.
4. A Word About Aesthetics
A common objection to QR codes is that they are ugly and unbefitting of a nicely designed marketing strategy. It is true that the standard out-of-the-box QR code isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing, but brands can improve the appearance with clever design tricks that ensure scanability and beauty.
By going with a custom-designed QR code, restaurants can represent their style, while also reassuring customers that the restaurant has put some thought into the experience.
As consumer smartphone adoption continues to surge, QR code usage is becoming more sophisticated. In particular, QR codes are transforming from a mere advertising hook to an integral part of mobile infrastructure. From boarding passes to takeout menus, the QR code is becoming less novelty and more utility.
One challenge for restaurants is always staying fresh in the minds of consumers. The restaurant that embraces mobile technology intelligently will demonstrate its cutting-edge commitment to excellent user experience and customer service.
Last week, mobile enthusiasts congregated in Barcelona to participate in the annual Mobile World Congress—a celebration of the current state of mobile and its promising future.
The event is comprised of a thought-leadership conference with keynote speakers and panel discussions, a mobile technology exhibition, the Global Mobile Awards, and the newly added mPowered Brands—a program where global marketers and agencies share mobile marketing knowledge.
It’s no surprise that they added this program to the agenda, seeing as though mobile is now a force to be reckoned with in the marketing realm.
mPowered Brands seems like a great opportunity for the marketing professionals lucky enough to be involved. It focuses on accelerating marketers’ use of mobile as a marketing medium and gives professionals across the mobile marketing ecosystem the opportunity to gain practical insight and knowledge from some of the most innovative mobile marketing companies today, such as McCann Worldgroup and Nielsen.
Aside from the mobile marketing component of the event, the keynote speaker series featured a hefty lineup of innovative speakers that hold some degree of clout in the mobile industry. Speakers included Ralph de la Vega, President & CEO of AT&T Mobility, John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay, and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, among many others.
Another cool part of the Mobile World Congress is the exhibition, where mobile aficionados can sneak a peek at the new phones, tablets, apps, accessories, and other emerging mobile technologies.
About 1,500 different companies showcased their products, and over 12,500 app developers participated in App Planet, which focused on the latest technology within the apps industry. The App Planet exhibition was hosted by big players like BlackBerry, IBM, IMGA, Nokia, Samsung and WIP.
The event also included forums and seminars related to mobile industry topics such as augmented reality, mobile cloud, mobile security, mobile spam, mobile privacy, and more.
The vast amount of information and insight shared at Mobile World Congress 2012 would certainly be beneficial for mobile professionals across the globe. From what I can gather, the event seemed like a great resource for experts in the mobile industry to educate themselves and share their knowledge and expertise with others.
Positive economic indicators along with the recent buzz about loyalty marketing are setting up the assumption that 2012 will not only be a recovery year for the economy, but also a growth year for loyalty marketing.
Current economic factors have reduced the size of our wallets, forcing individual consumers and businesses to think hard about how and where they spend their money.
Frugal consumers are one of the most important factors affecting America’s uphill battle of breaking out of the recession, according to International Business Times. Many Americans are increasing their savings, consuming less, and are carefully determining the right places to spend their precious dollars.
However, things may be looking up. BlackRock Inc. said the U.S. economy may grow as much as 2.5 percent this year. In addition, Consumer confidence in the U.S. rose last week to the highest level in over five months, according to BusinessWeek. With growth in consumer confidence and many other economic indicators, the end of the recession may be near, but individuals and businesses are still cautious about their spending. Marketing budgets are still relatively conservative and thus some marketers are putting loyalty on the back burner.
This won’t be for long.
2012 may likely be the breakout year for loyalty marketing, as its value is finally being recognized. Loyalty marketing has proven its success in many markets as a way to drive incremental revenue from existing customers and create a competitive advantage for brands.
Loyalty marketing programs provide incentives that drive repeat business and help build relationships with customers—something that is helping many businesses survive as the economy fights to spring back.
More individuals are accepting the concept of building and mining customer databases. Loyalty marketing program provides business with a wealth of information about their customers. All businesses can better reach and motivate their customers by collecting insights on buying behavior, trends, etc.
Ultimately, consumers want relationships with their favorite brands. Just like when we shop at our neighborhood market and appreciate when the owner greets us by name.
Some of the biggest obstacles to loyalty marketing success in the past were lack of understanding and lack of funding. Now, businesses realize the value that loyalty marketing holds. 2012 may be the year to watch out for it.
This report by VisionMobile takes a look at today’s mobile marketplace, revealing global smartphone penetration and adoption trends.
With all the talk of iPhone vs. Android these days, it’s easy to forget how the majority of the world’s mobile users still make calls and access data: via feature phones. A recently released report (download) from mobile strategy firm VisionMobile takes a look at today’s mobile marketplace finding that, despite the sharp rise in smartphone shipments over 2010 and 2011, global smartphone penetration (by OS) is at just 27%.
Smartphone adoption varies wildly by region, the report finds. Not surprisingly, those markets where 3G coverage is extensive and subscription plans are “post-paid” (as opposed to pre-paid) see the highest smartphone adoption rates. Meanwhile, in markets dominated by pre-paid subscriptions, the real battle is price. Here, Nokia’s mid-tier Symbian platforms and BlackBerry consumer-targeted models are still holding onto significant market share. However, both platforms are now facing threats from low-cost Android phones, thanks to the latter’s pricing versatility. Android devices today sell for anywhere from $100 to $750 (USD), allowing the phones to compete both on the high-end and the low-end of the pricing spectrum.
In the North American and European markets, smartphone penetration is the highest, with 63% and 51% market share, respectively. In the Asia-Pacific region (19%), Africa/Middle East region (18%) and Latin America (17%), it’s much lower.
As for today’s smartphone leaders, it really is an iPhone vs. Android world out there, since former mobile leader Nokia was slow to react to the iPhone’s coming, and steadily lost ground in the high-end smartphone market. Nokia’s decision to move from Symbian to Windows Phone allowed other Android players an edge, including Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, Sony-Ericsson as well as newcomers like Huawei, ZTE, Acer, Dell and Asus.
Despite the numerous differences between the two leading smartphone platforms, iOS and Android, there are some notable similarities. Both originate from non-telecom players. Both are monetized indirectly. (Instead of software license sales, they either profit from high-margin device sales or, in Google’s case, enhancing its online ad business). And both are driven by companies able to sustain investments of billions of dollars in order to develop an OS and create the accompanying developer and app ecosystems.
And yet, even though it’s “Android vs. iPhone” in terms of consumer choice, VisionMobile says there won’t be a single winner in the smartphone race. Both platforms have reached critical mass with hundreds of millions of users, making it almost impossible to displace them. As for RIM and Windows Phone, the jury’s still out on whether or not there’s even room for a third player and whether Microsoft, with Nokia’s help, can move into position number three.
Although the report doesn’t dive into speculation about what happens next, when the rest of the non-smartphone world upgrades their handsets, it does examine the network effects belonging to today’s dominant players. Not only are these platforms winning because of their technological sophistication, but also because of their application ecosystems. With 500,000+ iOS apps and 300,000 on Android, both platforms have reached critical mass. When that occurs, the platform begins to grow exponentially. However, app counts alone aren’t the ultimate measure of long-term health – the sustainability of the developer ecosystem is.
What’s interesting is to see the network effects in terms of mobile apps plotted out for all the top smartphone players. Below, the graphs show the number of apps available on a particular platform at a particular point in time, and the number of devices shipped for that platform in the quarter just preceding it. The resulting charts show just how popular Android and iOS are, and how difficult a battle it will be for a third major smartphone player to emerge.
You can also see the challenge that Apple faces as it attempts entry into emerging markets to take its share of the feature phone upgraders. As the report notes, Apple has high margin device sales, which means it doesn’t have as much flexibility in terms of hardware discounts as Android does with its $100 phones. But Apple did something else recently – when it brought out the iPhone 4S, it greatly discounted the prices of older model iPhones. The iPhone 3GS became free and the iPhone 4 was just $99, both with 2-year commitments. However, while that’s a viable strategy in attracting price-sensitive consumers in post-paid markets, it’s not necessarily going to be enough to attract pre-paid consumers to switch subscription plans. It’s the data bill that’s the killer, not the initial cost of the phone.
Apple knows that it needs compete in the pre-paid market, though. On its Q3 2011 earnings call, COO, now CEO, Tim Cook said, Apple is not avoiding that market. ”We don’t want to avoid that market. We know that we need to play there in order to have the kind of volumes that we’d like to have.”
And yet, when it came to its pre-paid strategy, Cook only mentioned getting customers to switch plans. ”In some cases, we convince someone to start a post-paid plan because in the long-term, I think, that’s better for the customer, the carrier and us.”
If that’s Apple’s pre-paid strategy, it looks like the iOS vs. Android battle in emerging markets may just now be heating up. And given how much of the world is still yet to upgrade, it’s a long fight ahead.
Square, an app that allows businesses to accept credit card payments, has released an update that adds several new features. The app now lets businesses define what makes a regular or loyal customer, and then allows them to add a discount on certain transactions to reward their most loyal customers.
We’ve all got our local haunts. There’s the places we frequent for coffee, the go-to joint for a good haircut, or our favorite dive for a quick beer on the way home from work. Like any good standby, the shop owners know who we are, recognizing us on sight. Perhaps they’ll float the occasional tab, or comp a free drink now and then. It’s the classic way for a small business to grow, getting to know their customer base and cultivating loyalty.
Square knows how this works. Square wants to know you.
Square-adopting merchants can now define their own “regulars” with a new application update announced Tuesday, allowing merchants the ability to recognize their most loyal repeat customers and reward them accordingly.
The update incorporates Square’s most recent refresh of its Card Case app, relying on the new “geofencing” technology included in Apple’s recent iOS 5 release. Once a Card Case-carrying customer enters the shop, the merchant’s Square software recognizes the customer by his or her existing “tab,” a profile created specifically to track that customer’s purchase history at the store. In other words, I walk into the store, my tab pops up on the store’s screen, and the cashier greets me with an enthusiastic “Hi Mike! Welcome back!”
From there, the merchant can see how many times the customer has visited and how much money they’ve spent. The merchant can then use that info to define a “regular.” So if I break the set threshold of visiting a cafe, say, 10 times, a merchant can deem me a regular and start offering me freebies.
Essentially, it’s the antithesis of a Groupon. The daily deals approach pioneered by the Chicago-based Groupon is more like a shotgun, attracting customers with a daily e-mail blast. The participating business then hopes any of those new visitors can be converted into repeat customers. Square’s approach flips the Groupon philosophy on its head; the business targets an existing customer base, those walk-ins who choose to come in without the incentive of a coupon.
“There is no one-size fits all loyalty program,” Quinn said. “Meaningful customer loyalty happens organically.”
Though Groupon may not even be Square’s biggest worry. Google’s Wallet app — despite being far from a complete and finished payment system — incorporates its own type of loyalty program, tailored to automatically apply rewards when a customer spends money at participating businesses. Google also ties in its Groupon Clone — Google Offers — applying any discounts to the purchase with a simple wave of the NFC-enabled device. That said, there aren’t many NFC-enabled devices, and ramping up that ecosystem would require lots of hardware changes anc cooperation from lots of device manufacturers — unlike the approach Square is taking.
And of course, despite any financial scrutiny it faced in the days leading up to its IPO, Groupon is still going strong. As is Groupon’s main competitor, LivingSocial.
Square’s main criticism of its competition, however, involve the level of complication on the infrastructure side. Google Wallet terminal installation is time consuming and potentially pricey, and lacks the human element that Square’s so-called “organic” transactions entail. Daily deals programs are also problematic in that while they may attract initial waves of customers, profiling repeat business isn’t as readily possible — which is where Square’s Card Case “tab” profiles come into play.
“Just as we’ve removed the mechanics of the transaction, we’ve removed all the friction of loyalty programs,” Quinn said.
Groupon and LivingSocial also lack the plan of attack taken by Square and Google: Point-of-sale payments integrated with loyalty-based programs. While daily deals may have the customer base, Square and Google could disrupt in a big way if they can truly scale. Google obviously has the scale advantage here, though Square claims 800,000 customers have used its product in the past year, so it’s well on its way to market penetration.
Further, Square’s update integrates the app into existing brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Merchants can now use the Square Register app in conjunction with their cash register (provided they’re using the properly supported hardware, of course). So now, instead of only providing digital receipts, businesses can also print out physical receipts.
The updated app is freely available for both Android and iOS, and can be found in the Android Market and Apple’s App Store.
A report from eMarketer found that the popularity of mobile coupons is still rising, indicating that one in ten mobile users redeem coupons via their mobile device.
Data from eMarketer estimates that nearly 20 million US adults will redeem a mobile coupon this year, including coupons or codes received via SMS, applications and mobile Web browsers; quick response codes for redemption online or offline; and group buying coupons purchased via mobile. By 2013, the number using such coupons will nearly double, and 16.5% of all US adult mobile phone users will redeem a coupon that year.
The popularity in mobile coupons extends from the popularity in Online coupons experienced during the recession, eMarketer speculates, and is a trend that isn’t going anywhere soon. “Even as the sputtering economy attempts its recovery, the popularity of couponing has continued, spurred in part by the burgeoning daily deals space,” said Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, Mobile Coupons: Offers and Deals Light Up the Last Mile. “Mobile coupons will play a central role in broadening the appeal and acceptance of digital coupons among shoppers.”
Not surprising, mobile coupon usage is much higher among smartphone users, where nearly one in five users ages 18 and older will redeem a mobile coupon, representing growth of 117.6%. Triple-digit uptake rates will be short-lived, according to the research, but by 2013 almost one-third of smartphone users will be redeeming discounts on the go.
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.
Sure, we know mobile marketing can help increase sales and drive foot traffic to restaurants, salons, and tons of other businesses. But can SMS drive site traffic to online retailers, too?
Texting ads and promotions to customers is an excellent way to announce sales and drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, service providers, and restaurants. But can text messaging drive site traffic to online retailers, too?
Dutch Bros. is a regional, drive-through coffee shop chain in the Western United States. The franchise store in Caldwell, Idaho has built a significant following by sending out one or two text message ads each month offering a deep discount to customers on their short message service (SMS) list.
On a recent morning Dutch Bros. announced via text that all lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, coffees, and the like were just $1 regardless of size. The result was a traffic jam with dozens of vehicles waiting to take advantage of the special. Although Dutch Bros. was probably not making a lot of money selling $5 drinks for $1, it was rewarding loyal customers and building the kind of relationship that will lead to long-term growth.
The SMS Marketing Opportunity
SMS is the technical protocol for sending a text message to and from a mobile handset or similar communications device. Anyone familiar with texting is familiar with SMS. As far as marketing is concerned, SMS uses a model similar to email. Customers opt to receive discounts or other communications via text message, and marketers send messages as promised. The customers should be given a clear opportunity to opt out at any time too.
According to a July 2010 Pew Internet & American Life Project report, 72 percent of mobile phone users in the United States send or receive SMS, text messages. Given estimates of about 234 million American mobile phone users, it may be the case that there are nearly 170 million Americans texting. The size of this audience makes SMS a significant marketing channel.
SMS is actually even more popular outside of the United States, with some estimates stating that there are 2.4 billion active users worldwide.
Ecommerce’s Particular Opportunity
Mobile handsets are also changing, as increasingly consumers are choosing smartphones like any of the Android-based devices or the iconic iPhone, which are capable of voice, SMS, and Internet-based communications.
In fact, a Merrill Lynch report cited by Smaato, stated that in just two years, smartphones would replace personal computers as the most common means of Internet access worldwide.
The relationship between SMS capabilities and Internet capabilities in these devices creates a particular opportunity for ecommerce merchants who can send SMS messages to interested consumers with a link that those consumers may act on. In fact, Todd Davenport writing on the iMobile Marketing Direct blog said that “over the past two years, Sears and eBay have adopted SMS text messages to promote their sites via the URL embedded within text messages, thus driving customers back to abandoned mobile shopping carts.”
Separately, a published report said that 34 percent of consumers who have opted to receive SMS marketing would, in fact, respond.
Getting Started with SMS Marketing
In most respects, SMS lists can be built in the same way as email lists. Online merchants will want to include opt-in offers on-site and encourage shoppers to join by offering discounts, special offers, or even rewards. For example, when a shopper is checking out, a store may offer a $1 off coupon code for joining an SMS list. The customer enters a valid mobile phone number, and the coupon code is sent via text messages for use on the current purchase.
In general, SMS marketing will likely take one of three common forms: coupons or discounts, surveys, or reminders.
- Coupons or discounts. Text message coupons are simply offers that shoppers receive on their mobile phones as SMS messages. The coupon may be a reward for joining the SMS list by texting something like “join” to a specific number or as a motivation to get shoppers to visit the site. The message should include the coupon code and a link to a landing page.
- Surveys. Surveys are a direct way to get feedback from shoppers.
- Reminders. Reminders come in many forms. For example, a merchant that sells gift baskets could offer a texting reminder service that notified customers of upcoming birthday, anniversaries, or similar.
SMS marketing is relatively unproven for ecommerce but the size of the potential audience, the ease of clicking on a link in a text message, and the various way to engage shoppers, seems to make SMS an intriguing channel for ecommerce marketers.
Original article found at: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/2805-Should-Online-Retailers-Embrace-SMS-Marketing-