Amazon has started placing QR code boxes that include its trademark smile logo into magazine advertisements, enabling Amazon mobile app users to scan the "SmileCode" to open Amazon product pages or other content on their phones, an Amazon spokeswoman told Retail Dive in an email.
The SmileCode boxes and the SmileCode Scanner featured in the mobile app have already debuted in the U.K. and Germany and are premiering in the U.S. with the March issues of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines, which were sent to subscribers last week and on newsstands next week, a spokeswoman said.
The SmileCodes, first reported by TechCrunch, were previously used during the holiday season in London at an Amazon pop-up store where shoppers accessed a sales page by scanning a SmileCode next to an item. The codes also were used on Amazon lockers in the U.K. to advertise a Bluetooth speaker, the spokeswoman said.
As Amazon increasingly blends the physical and digital worlds, it's latest move is an attempt to make magazines shoppable. It will be an interesting test of the concept, and its success could mean as much or more to the publishers of major print magazines as it does to Amazon. While the content unlocked by the SmileCode could be a product page, it could also be a gateway to more messaging.
"The content is code-specific and could be anything from a product detail page to an exclusive movie trailer, a recipe and more," The Amazon spokeswoman noted. She added that SmileCodes in many cases will have short labels describing what they are for, such as "scan to shop" or "scan to watch an exclusive trailer," unless they are positioned in such a way that makes it obvious where they lead.
The introduction of SmileCodes comes at an interesting time, as QR code redemptions are rising at a healthy rate and are expected to continue to do so in the coming years, according to Juniper Research. This hasn’t always been the case for the square stamps that look a little bit like something from a Rorschach test.
Amazon has come upon a way to make these code boxes not only more appealing, but also integrate them with its own brand identity. The e-commerce giant did not detail the technology behind the new codes, but it makes one wonder why other retailers haven’t tried something similar.
If QR codes are indeed experiencing a second coming that makes them more valuable to retailers and brands, it looks like this will be yet another area of innovation in which Amazon could lead the way. Although Amazon may still be in the experimental phase itself, putting the SmilesCodes in a couple of magazines may be a low-key way of measuring performace. It will be interesting to see where Amazon goes with them next, and on how big of a scale it rolls them out.