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Mall retailers mobilize holiday shopping via QR codes: study

Just 7.2 percent of mall retailers are using QR codes as part of their mobile strategy this holiday season, according to a new report from Nellymoser.

Nellymoser visited more than 700 retail locations for the QR in Retail Study and found that some retailers are using QR codes as part of a mobile strategy that extends beyond the brick-and-mortar store location. Many stores have designed apps that can be downloaded in one stop via the QR codes, which were found throughout the stores on window decal displays, product displays and signs above cash registers.

“On-trend retailers are building programs that are creating long-term relationships with customers via QR codes and their mobile phones,” said Roger Matus, executive vice president at Nellymoser Inc., Arlington, MA.

“But, only 7.2 percent of retailers are doing so,” he said.

“Fortunately, there is still time for other retailers to embrace QR codes, mobile campaigns and mobile apps.  But, retailers who delay will miss out to those who are acting now.”

Dressing rooms mobilized
Nellymoser discovered that 23 of the store brands it visited, or 7.2 percent of the total, contained at least one QR code. None of the stores used a 2D bar code other than a QR code.

Some of the retailers using QR codes include BCBG Max Azria, Best Buy, Forever 21, Gap and Sephora. Most of the retailers using QR codes fell into one of several product categories including teen and young adult fashion, beauty products and mobile electronics.

QR codes were also found in the fitting rooms at aerie, American Eagle, PacSun and Madewell.

“QR codes in fitting rooms were our biggest surprise,” Mr. Matus said.

“We expected to find QR codes on store windows and near product displays to explain more about the products,” he said. “We did not realize that QR codes are being used all over the store for discounting and to encourage shoppers to download apps — even in the dressing rooms.”

Mall anchor stores had a low rate of QR code use, with only Best Buy and Macy’s featuring them in store.

A common practice was to incent shoppers to interact with the brand using a mobile phone by offering discounts, special offers and opportunities to win prizes or gifts with purchase,”

Frequently the QR codes led to a branded store app download. In the case of the Gap, the code linked to a mobile optimized gift card purchase site. Other links led to social media a video, or a sweepstakes.

Many retail apps went beyond providing basic product information and included styling advice, loyalty programs, social media or check-in incentives and location-based discounts.

Some retailers also incorporated a social media component so that users could share or check-in via foursquare and Facebook.

Almost all codes appeared with text that explained how to read a code or what would happen if a code was scanned.

“The edgy, on-trend retailers this season are already using QR codes as part of their mobile strategy,” Mr. Matus said. “They are using them to build a relationship that starts at the brick-and-mortar location, but continues way after the in-store visit.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York