QR codes have been massively hyped up over the past few months, but it still remains to be seen whether they are a nice gimmicky tool for companies to use, or whether there is actually long term value in them as a sales and promotional tool. We've written before about whether they're seen as a useful piece of technology for companies and it's clear that QR codes have a long way to go to reach mainstream proliferation. I remember seeing a QR code promotion with a promo person holding a QR code sandwich board in Dublin with hoardes of commuters going past, and I didn't see one person actually scan the QR code or barely look at it the whole time I was watching. It's true that they are certainly in the minority, but does that mean that you should be ignoring it as a business tool? A recent case study by Verizon suggests not.
200% sales increase
This is a staggering figure to attribute to a QR code, considering it is a free piece of technology to use, but the campaign itself shows that by using them strategically, you can achieve positive business results. The promotion was run via the site Hipscan, who have created a unique and much needed method for using QR codes, in that you can change the destination url once it's created. This is welcome news for companies and marketers, who take some pretty big risks when running high profile QR code campaigns, where the code itself can't be changed once it's launched. The Verizon promotion used Hipscan-generated QR codes to take store customers that scanned the QR code through to a competition to win a smartphone, via sharing on Facebook. If one of those Facebook friends brought a Verizon mobile, the original customer would get a free smartphone. A pretty nifty promotion that generated $35,000 in additional revenue during the week of the promotion, with a mere $1,000 investment.
The campaign worked for Verizon because they weren't afraid to mix social commerce with QR code technology. Where many QR code promotions feature on unlocking additional content or contests, there was a direct sales tactic at the end of scanning the QR code, that clearly had a positive impact on sales. Furthermore the campaign mixed commerce with a social element, generating brand awareness on over 25,000 Facebook profiles.
Tesco QR code store
In Korea, Tesco (named Homeplus over there) launched an innovative virtual store that made the most of the fact that their customers dreaded having to do the weekly shop, as it ate into the little spare time that they had in their hectic lifestyles. They introduced virtual stores in subway stations that allowed people to shop directly via their smartphones. They put up billboards that reflected the real products on the shop shelf, with QR codes next to each product. By simply scanning the product, it was instantly added to your mobile shopping cart and you could then complete the transaction via your smartphone. An excellent case study showing how QR codes can seamlessly integrate with commerce :
Is anyone really using them?
While the Verizon & Tesco campaigns shows how QR codes can be used to drive commerce, we're still unsure of how many people actually have an interest in scanning them. While this cannot be construed as a scientific experiment by any means, we ran a small poll on our Facebook Page to see if anyone had scanned a promotional QR code. Out of 116 respondents, surprisingly 78 said that they had :
Again, while this shows a very small sub-section of respondents in an informal poll, it is an interesting indication that QR code usage is on the increase. This will certainly be welcome news for brands, as it represents another way to combine offline and online marketing, bringing 'real-world' customers back to your social channels, to create a long-term point of engagement with them. This is the future of social media and QR codes might just be playing a bigger part here than we think.