The Return of QR Codes

And How Mattress Retailers Can Make The Most of Them This Time

Remember QR codes? Those square barcodes that, when scanned on a smartphone through a special app, directed you to a microsite or sign-up page? We had almost forgotten about them too. In fact, if you had asked us a year or so ago, we would have told you that QR codes were a thing of the past - a forgone marketing trend that didn’t stand the test of time. But all that changed when Apple decided to update the camera app on the iPhone to include an active QR code reader. This simplified the whole process: no more downloading a specialized scanner app. Now, all iPhone users have to do is simply make like they are going to take a photo of the code - and they will be immediately prompted to the chosen URL. Thanks to this technology upgrade, marketers and consumers alike are once again embracing the QR code. Mattress retailers are poised to capitalize on the return of this technology — just as long as they learn from the mistakes that sunk the trend the first time around.

There was a brief window of time, around 2011 and 2012, when QR codes were all the rage. With the expanding popularity of smartphones, retailers and marketers embraced the tool with aplomb. But the QR code heyday didn’t last long, as consumers soon grew tired of fumbling with special scanner apps that took up valuable space on their phones, only to find the content they directed to was less than valuable. As consumer engagement waned, QR codes quickly fell out of vogue.

But the tides are changing once again, thanks to Apple. Since the tech company introduced its new QR code compatible camera technology, usage is once again on the up and up. According to Juniper Research, nearly 1.3 billion mobile coupons were redeemed via QR codes in 2017—and that number is expected to reach 5.3 billion via more than 1 billion mobile devices by 2022.

Major brands have already jumped back on the bandwagon. At the Digital Signage Expo earlier this year, Porsche integrated QR codes into a unique interactive experience that allowed consumers to customize their very own Porsche Cayenne Turbo. After selecting their customization options, users were provided with a QR code that directed them to a site where they could see and experience their personalized vehicle.

When it comes to the mattress industry, we are starting to see a much more conservative application of the QR code. At the summer Las Vegas Market, Tempur-Pedic incorporated the codes into the top-of-bed POP for its new TempurLUXE Collection. By simply hovering over the code with their iPhone camera, consumers were immediately directed to a microsite that provided them with additional information about the collection’s features and components.

The return of QR codes is good news for mattress sellers. Firstly, they can be a vital resource for RSAs, giving them a quick and easy way to double check product specs or inventory and shipping information. On the consumer-facing side, QR codes are an easy way for stores to deliver more information to shoppers without overwhelming them from the get-go. They also give consumers the opportunity to access more dynamic marketing content—like videos and infographics—without requiring retailers to invest in expensive technology.

This can be especially beneficial when it comes to engaging with consumers who are not receptive to traditional selling strategies. “Some customers would rather interact through technology than through human contact, and vice versa,” Alex Goryachev, Managing Director of Cisco explained to Forbes. “Equip print ads and signage with QR codes that can direct more digitally savvy customers to more information and interactive online content.”

Beyond simply providing valuable product information, QR codes can now also serve as another purchasing option. For retailers offering boxed beds or easy-ship accessories in their stores, the code could direct to an e-commerce microsite. In addition to streamlining the buying process, this is an invaluable opportunity for retailers to recapture sales from consumers who were considering just testing the mattress in-store, then going home to buy it online.

Of course, QR codes can also be used to distribute coupons or promotional offerings that consumers can redeem in-store — a major asset for brick-and-mortar retailers that are struggling with dwindling foot traffic.

While the inclusion of the QR reader in the standard camera app eliminated one major barrier for usage, there are still a number of factors retailers should consider in order to make the most of this technology.

Does your store have free WiFi?
While some consumers may have unlimited data plans these days, many do not. And unfortunately, the promise of product information may not be enough of a draw to prompt them to sacrifice some of their data plans.

What about the people who do not have smartphones?
Even though QR code usage is on the rise, there will still inevitably be some customers who do not want - or cannot - access them on their personal phones. That means the QR code content should either be available in another form, or you have to provide some

Do people know why they should scan the QR code? Since they can be used for many different purposes, it’s important that the signage clearly communicates what kind of content consumers will be accessing. Is it more information about the product? A video about how it was made? Maybe a coupon or promotional offering? 

While it may not be the saving grace of the retail industry, the return of the QR code is providing mattress stores with another valuable tool for engaging consumers.

Read more here, here, here and here.

This article originally appeared in Sleep Retailer eNews on August 23, 2018

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