The intersection of the online and offline worlds: customers using their mobiles in-store.
We’ll cover the burgeoning area of customers and mobile QR codes, how retailers are using them, and glimpse into the future with augmented reality.
Firstly here’s what a QR code looks like. If you have a QR code reader then feel free to check out the mobile version of this blog by scanning this:
So far in this series about mobile and wine I’ve presumed that your customer is in his car, on the train, or waiting forever for his doctor’s appointment :(.
But what about if the customer is actually in-store?
It sounds counterintuitive, why would they shop online if they are in your store already?!
Here’s what BestBuy says about this rapidly increasing phenonoem of why customers are using mobiles:
I’m guessing that video was as much for staff as for customers. It goes through why mobiles are so important, how people are using them and then (at about 3.00 mins) how they’re using them in-store.
Content is King, but only if you can actually get it
In previous posts I’ve talked about the advantages of buying wine on the internet. Perhaps the biggest advantage is the wealth of information on the world wide web. Consumers are now bringing that research habit to the store by using those tiny computers – mobile smartphones.
Sure, not all consumers want to walk into a store and bring out their cellphone. I’ve no doubt many would prefer to talk a knowledgeable sales assistant :).
But you also know that others don’t want to talk to anyone, and perhaps another group wants all the info of the WWW in their hand before spending large amounts of money.
Whatever the reason, it’s time to make your store the best place for these mobile wielding people to go.
Quick Response (QR) codes are a 2D barcode that when scanned brings up a smallish amount of information. For our purposes this is website address though it can be 1000s of characters.
QR codes are being used extensively by logistics and manufacturing companies right now for tracking inventory. The technology is mature even if consumers aren’t quite aware of it as yet.
In a retail store a QR code sticker could be put on the shelf edge, shelf talker, on the bottle itself, or on some sort of neck tag. The customer takes a photo using a QR reader which is just another app that is downloaded from iTunes App Store or the Android Market (depending on your phone). I currently use this one: Neoreader, previously I used 2D Sense which was hopeless.
In the screen shots below the app:
- automatically scans for QR codes
- finds one and asks you if you want to go to the web site
- opens a browser and takes you to an Amazon purchase page.
Simple huh? No using a touch keypad, intuitive process, taking you directly to a relevant page (which is hopefully optimized for a mobile).
Let’s look at how you can use these in your own store.
9 Ways a wine store can use QR codes
Here’s my list of how you can use mobile technology to sell more wine.
1. Provide Online Information
These codes can link the screeds of information on your (mobile optimized) website to the customer who wants to buy something in your store – including video, map or competition links.
And you can help direct them to information about your store rather than price checking or looking at competing websites.
2. Share with Social Media
Once they’re at your website give them every opportunity to share your products with their friends by providing Facebook Like and Tweet buttons optimized for mobile phones. This helps them get product recommendations from friends as well.
3. 24/7: Customer turns up after hours?
No problem – place a QR code in storefront windows to enable customers to purchase on their mobile.
4. Share with “Check In”
Another way to promote sharing is to have a Foursquare, or Facebook Places etc QR code sticker at the entrance to your store – this allows easy check-ins at your store. Here’s how one wacky Swede does it:
Not that I recommend QR codes and bathrooms, that’s, er, very weird.
Google actually mailed out over 100,000 QR code window stickers to local US businesses, the QR code was linked to the business’ Google Places page. A great example of linking the physical store to online information.
5. Cross Sell / Up Sell
Provide cross-sell opportunities by suggesting similar wines or snacks.
6. Inventory Availability
Linking to inventory information – do you have a case? Can you get access to more?
7. Loyalty Programs and Tracking
What’s more you can track the behavior of customers – see which codes they’re scanning and what they do with that information (hopefully buy!). For customers that belong to your loyalty program you could tie that in with your mobile app to make their in-store visit better and the data you collect even more insightful.
8. Advertising and Direct Mail
Include a QR code in your advertising so consumers can be directed with a simple app click right there and then, rather than having to use a type on a touchpad or find a PC.
9. Mobile Payments, maybe
When I was running NPD for a mobile company back in 2001 this was the next big thing. A decade later it’s still the, ahhhh, next big thing.
The idea is you can use your mobile phone like you do a credit or debit card – SMS payment, pay online in-store, swipe against something … however it seems to have run into all sorts of practical issues.
US mobile companies reckon they have agreed on a standard for something called Near Field Communication (NFC). Given it has been given a push by Google, and made easier with the new functionality of smartphones, perhaps it will actually happen this time?
Here’s how one commentator describes NFC,
“NFC is a short-range, high-frequency wireless technology that allows for communication between a consumer’s smart phone and the point-of-sale device at the merchant’s counter. Both the phone and the POS device must also have installed NFC-capable chips. When the consumer waves his smart phone near the POS device, payment account information is shared, and the purchase is completed”.
Augmented Reality: the future…
I kid you not. It looks like the Japanese are pushing it the hardest as you can see for this application for N Building in Tokyo.
The street facing side of N Building is one large freakin’ QR code! By using a mobile app at the same time as pointing your mobile phone at the building you get information about what is happening on each floor – including tweets.
Seriously, check it out:
Now that is very cool. Imagine the possibilities – in-store as well as out. Point your camera at a wine section and seeing all the ratings and reviews for those wines. In fact I think there is an app that can do something like that already?
What’s your thoughts? Are QR codes such a big deal? How could you best use them for your mobile wielding customers?