When it comes to shopping, convenience is key. The power of mobile technologies has only increased consumers’ expectations of an enhanced, yet immediate and user-friendly shopping experience. With common pain points like card entry information solved with digital wallets, retailers must move to minimize the drag of repeat purchasing, especially with frequently purchased products, or for retailers with massive product catalogs. Rather than tediously searching through filters and product numbers, utilizing quick response (QR) code technology, barcode and image scanning technology can create a streamlined user experience that maximizes efficiency and conversions.
Deciphering QR Codes
You can find QR codes anywhere now, from social media apps to paper advertisements. Although the technology initially wasn’t hugely successful in the U.S., there’s evidence that it’s picking up in popularity, with a recent survey estimating that 11 million households will scan a QR code in 2020 in the U.S. alone.
Retailers can use QR codes to offer consumers a functional and fun way to shop, linking to specific product web pages, scanning to receive a refund or exchange an item, directing users straight to a product in their shopping cart for immediate purchase, or even linking to payment methods to allow shoppers to pay with a simple scan of a code. QR codes can also increase a retailer’s conversion rates by coaxing potential customers further down the road with little delay or effort. The mobile retail market is propelled by a universal desire for nearly effortless shopping. Scanning a code is faster, easier and more efficient than typing out an entire URL.
An Increase in Barcode Scanning
In addition to QR codes, retailers are also ramping up their mobile barcode scanning abilities to deliver products to consumers faster. For example, with barcode scanning, retailers simply tell consumers to scan ads with the camera-equipped app to immediately pull up the products and offers advertised. This eliminates consumers’ need to browse and search for what caught their eye. Retailers can also tag images with smart markers that identify specific products, linking their app to other marketing efforts, such as:
- catalogs found in a brick-and-mortar store or mailed to customers;
- fliers passed out in local communities or handed out at events;
- billboards that on-the-go shoppers can quickly snap on their phones; and
- specially designed packaging and shipping materials.
The Rising Need for Mobile Image Scanning
As a consumer, have you ever wanted to just snap a quick picture of something you like and instantly purchase it? With the power of mobile, savvy retailers are making headway to fulfill this need.
For example, Nike recently announced the launch of Nike Fit, giving consumers the ability to scan their feet to determine their shoe size down to the millimeter. Nike understands the need to create more convenience and remove the barriers to online ordering in apparel by ensuring a perfect fit. Furthermore, the company recognizes this type of “wow” experience can only happen in a native mobile app.
Similarly, Atlas Footwear is using mobile to create custom-fitted orthotics and shoes for consumers. Within its app, users can take photos for foot size and record a video to capture the unique contours of their foot. However, unlike Nike’s app that just tells them what shoe to order, these images and videos are actually sent with the shoe order and made in the factory to fit each customer exactly, making sure the proper orthotic is shipped with the shoe order.
By utilizing intelligent image recognition retailers are allowing users to scan printed or digital materials and send them directly to the product shown for a tap-and-buy experience.
Innovative technology using smartphone cameras present an opportunity for retailers to make mobile shopping easier and faster with tools and capabilities that drive traffic and sales through both offline and online channels. The smoother path to purchase that QR codes, barcode and image scanning drive present inevitably higher conversion rates and makes a retailer’s marketing more effective, taking both the ad and mobile app to the next level.
Casey Gannon is global vice president of marketing at Shopgate, a mobile commerce platform.
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