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GNC bridges in-store and online via QR codes

GNC has been using mobile bar codes through a variety of uses including in-store signage and in print materials. One example that netted the 40 percent redemption rate comes from mobile-enabled easels placed outside of stores  that encourage consumers to come in for a free product sample.

“We have tested QR codes in store windows, on in-store signage and in all of our print materials,” said Greg Miller, spokesman for GNC, Pittsburgh.

“This particular QR code campaign was first tested in store windows, directing customers to redeem a free trial of a new product. Response to that was great – more than 40 percent of those who scanned the QR code redeemed and came in to try the product,” he said.

“The success of that spurred the thought – actually the idea came from our CEO – that we could use QR codes to better educate our customers about all of the promotions and deals going on in store. It became effectively a mobile catalog.”

Scan on mobile
Education is a big goal of GNC’s marketing, meaning that mobile takes on a multichannel approach.

One way that GNC is using QR codes is with mobile-enabled easels that sit outside of stores.

The easels encourage consumers to scan a six inch-by-six inch QR code, which directs to a mobile site. Users are then prompted to pick a product category and can then see all of the available in-store deals.

According to GNC, consumers consistently spend more than two minutes on the mobile site once a QR code is scanned. The most visited section of the site is the Free Deals section.

The easels are primarily being used by GNC locations either inside malls or in downtown areas.

The mobile pages that the QR codes link with are refreshed on a monthly basis with new promotions and deals.

The easels are only a small part of how GNC is using mobile bar codes though – the company also directs users to the mobile site through in-store signage and direct mail.

Mobile multichannel
GNC has been active in the mobile space for a while.

In April, the company revamped its iPhone and Android applications to give mobile users a better shopping experience (see story).

The company is also seeing that other forms of digital media — such as email — are increasingly becoming more mobile.

For instance, 50 percent of GNC’s emails are opened on a mobile device, per Mr. Miller.

“We know that our greatest strength as a company is our store associate knowledge,” Mr. Miller said.

“We also know that our customer is highly mobile, so some sort of mobile experience to help educate was a natural for us,” he said.

“We have tested heavily with QR codes and have seen good engagement. We built scanning capability into our GNC mobile apps to remove the barrier for those new to QR codes. So QR codes for us are not technology for technologies sake, but a solution to a major opportunity we identified.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York