QR Codes - Can They Save Brick and Mortar Stores Like Best Buy?

March 29th, 2011

The economy is flat-lined as of right now, it's no longer getting worse, but it really isn't getting better either. Consumers are still somewhat afraid to spend money with the ease of a few years ago, although the technology put in front of them is getting better, more advanced and more affordable with each new product cycle. One particular area that is hurting is the brick and mortar business, where it's now almost as easy, depending on your location, to buy the same products cheaper online. To help encourage consumer sales at retail locations, Best Buy has been implementing QR codes in many aspects of their traditional marketing and in-store displays. QR codes offer benefits for both Best Buy and their consumers. For Best Buy, they can keep in-store marketing and signage to a minimum, promoting the most important facts on small signs like they've always done, but with the simple scan from a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Windows 7, Blackberry), the consumer can be taken to a specific website with every detail needed to aid in their decision. Best Buy has been proactively using QR codes for a while with this in mind -- giving the consumers the tools make educated choices on products without the overhead of hiring extra sales associates in all of their stores. Consumers can now get virtually all their questions answered on their own, making an informed purchase faster and more efficiently, instead of standing around waiting to find a sales associate. Along the same line of thinking, Best Buy has been using the codes for storewide promotions, putting them on signage, kiosks and near their registers. The only downside for their efforts is the QR code still isn't widely known among the American population, so many just over-look them and because they require smartphones to decipher, it limits the number of people who can take full advantage of them. Best Buy isn't alone in trying to keep customers in their stores longer, which helps generate sales, or provide knowledge and information to consumers. Several other major electronic retailers, national and independent, have taken to the web to try and win local customers. Focusing on promotions through social media sites like foursquare.com and checking-in with Facebook Places, retailers hope to encourage potential customers to get rewarded for the number of times they check-in, being the 100th person that month to check-in or giving product reviews and feedback on their websites. Many companies have also seen their Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts become a customer service and inquiry section of sorts. Before customers come into a retailer they may ask questions in a public forum, to get the information they are after. This takes the once in-person connection a retailer was able to establish with a customer and puts it online, without the ability to tie in the sale. Best Buy is using the right strategy to help customers who have already come into the store, but their ability to educate consumers on how and why they should be utilizing QR codes is still up for question. Only time will tell how consumers will adopt and utilize QR code technology, but proactively making the choice to try it is a positive sign for Best Buy. Ultimately, will these QR codes help Best Buy improve its in-store customer support team by adding an element of self-help or will in-person support gradually disappear in favor of a wholly self-help environment? If the latter, what's the motivation to make the trek to Best Buy vs. simply ordering online? We would love to hear thoughts here on the blog or at our Facebook page.



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IOGEAR enjoys long walks on the beach and romantic getaways. While not traveling, IOGEAR enjoys a great game of shuffle board whilst playing the banjo.