Cracking the QR Code
Best Practices by Lou Dzierzak, Lkdcom@visi.com
The way consumers shop and make product purchase decision has fundamentally changed over the last few years. Brand name recognition, once the first measure of success for a consumer, isn’t quite as powerful. With almost unlimited access to information, consumers want more before selecting brand X over brand Y.
“Now customers are more interested in recommendations and feedback from their peers. They are comparing product details between multiple brands. They are used to doing more of their own research,” reports Jason Goldberg, VP strategy and customer experience, CrossView, Inc.
Take a look at advertising and point of sale materials for many snow sports products and bar code like graphics called QR codes are becoming more familiar.
Consumers use smartphone mobile applications to scan the black and white graphics. In response the smartphone user is linked to the brand’s site. QR Codes are growing rapidly reports Robin Maass, CEO, Connvision Ltd.
“Consumers can easily get more information about the product they are considering. Since the media used can be videos and images the experience is much enhanced and richer. Retailers and the manufacturers can use the codes on products present product demonstration videos or tutorials,” explains Maass.
Brands and retailers who are adopting QR technologies will find a competitive advantage when presenting their products to an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base. “The QR technology allows for quicker and richer communication,” says Maass. “The distance between consumer and brand gets shorter. And you can capture the consumer when interest is at its highest. Also it lowers the gap between the physical and virtual world by linking these two. No other technology is capable of doing this in a similar way.”
Paying attention to competitive multi-channel pricing becomes even more important. “Consumers can use smart phone to scan the product in store and compare prices offered by other vendors, “says Goldberg.
Serene Pelletier, marketing manager, DAKINE, reports the company is using QR codes in a Snowboard magazine advertising featuring team rider Annie Boulanger. When scanned the QR code links to a team trip video at Kicking Horse, and gives a behind the scenes look at the photo shoot for the ad.
Another print ad features DAKINE athlete Curtis Ciszek. In this application the QR code links to the product page for the Excursion Glove on DAKINE’s website, which has detailed information on the features and technology featured in the glove, as well as “where to buy” info.
Armed with smartphones, mobile scanning applications and actively seeking out QR codes on products they have researched before coming in to the store, can shorten the decision process and leave both consumer and retailer happy with the transaction.
“These new tools offer ways to enable consumers to get product information and reassure themselves that they have found a good product that is going to solve their needs,” notes Goldberg.
Not everyone understands the importance of the square black and white designs in the corner of advertisements and hangtags. Brands and retailers who may prefer to ignore consumer’s acceptance of the technology risk putting up un-intended barriers in their relationships with current and new customers.
Brad Werntz, owner Pemba Serves, a manufacturer’s rep firm comments, “These technologies change the conversation. Retailers need to take advantage of the technology that’s out there and recognize that there will be consumers who are hyper-connected and are going to get the information they need whether they are in the store or at home in their pajamas. Don’t worry so much about the flow of information and put themselves in the position to capitalize on that experience and put the sale in the register.”
Certainly not every ski, boot or snowboard sale is going to be influenced by a winter sports enthusiast scanning a QR code. A well-informed sales person is still vital to many product decisions. Since consumers will range from tech savvy to tech ignorant, brands and retailers must be willing to address both ends of the spectrum. “Retailers have to be ready to talk to the absolute Luddite who refuses to look at any kind of screen and the person who refuses to talk to a person. That’s the landscape,” says Werntz. “Not being prepared to talk to both ends of that spectrum is a mistake. One thing is certain; the future holds more tech users than non-tech users. It’s better to talk to them now then turn your back.”
Managing a successful snow sports specialty retail store requires expertise in an ever-changing array of business operations. Human resources, event planning, marketing, product selection, social media and e-commerce are just a few examples. Lou Dzierzak has written about these topics for over a decade. Best Practices will shorten the learning curve by offering case studies, resources and how-to tips from experts in specific fields. If you have suggestions for future topics, please feel free to contact Lou at Lkdcom@visi.com.