Holiday Shopping and the QR Code Afterthought

This morning, I noticed an article on Mobile Commerce News titled, “4 QR Codes to Attract Holiday Shoppers.” In the article, the author, Jesse Woods, briefly states why and how QR Codes can be used this holiday season to help boost holiday shopping.

While it’s great that Jesse and others may consider the use of QR Codes as part of their holiday marketing strategy, what I don’t like about the article’s premise is that it promotes what I, and many others, call or refer to as QR Code Afterthought. We see it all too often, a print advertisement, billboard, etc., with a QR Code prominently displayed but, when scanned, the code’s scan resolve content/experience/interaction is less than optimal, and quite frankly, should never have been included in the ad in the first place. This is QR Code Afterthought.

In Jesse’s article, he makes the point that QR Codes can help attract holiday shoppers when placed on flyers, receipts, greeting cards and price tags, but isn’t it a bit late to even be considering your company’s holiday marketing strategy? There’s less than a week to Black Friday and Hanukkah starts in just a couple of days. Sure there are times when marketing can and is done on-the-fly and it’s not so structured, but there are also times when marketing needs to be a bit more planned and thought out.  When it comes to QR Codes, they fall into the latter camp.

Time and attention needs to be given to the use of QR codes, at holiday time or all year round, in order to lay the groundwork for what will become a truly meaningful, relevant and valuable scanning experience and interaction for the consumer. It also takes time to figure out the objectives and goals of a code-based campaign and how it will integrate with other campaigns and mediums being used by the brand. When QR Codes are only given last-minute time and attention, what often happens is that the QR Code-based ad campaign will launch, a minimum of scans will be had and, in the end, few if any actual sales will result. Then, when this happens, the members of the company’s marketing team look at each other scratching their heads and say, “Those codes don’t work, we need to shelve them and try something else.”

Like direct mail, email, television, out-of-home, event, etc., QR Code-based campaigns have a lot of moving parts, nuances and best practices to pay attention and adhere to. Should you and your company consider the use of codes, make certain that you are devoting as much time, attention and resources to them as you would to most any other technology-based campaign which, these days, is just about any and all.


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