December 8, 2010, 1:46 PM

2-D bar codes give consumers access to a bounty of information

Constellation Wines and Sears are retailers using the technology that has yet to take off.

Lead Photo

Constellation Wines is featuring 2-D bar codes (lower right) for mobile scanning on cards that hang on wine bottles.

Two-dimensional bar codes are beginning to sprout up in retail, sometimes in the most unexpected of places.

Take, for example, on the card that hangs off the neck of a bottle of wine. Constellation Wines this holiday season has included 2-D bar codes on their promotional wine bottle cards, as well as in newspaper inserts, to provide customers with a bounty of information and, hopefully, boost wine sales.

A 2-D bar code is a square with a pattern of dots that consumers scan with their mobile phone cameras via 2-D bar code scanning mobile apps such as NeoReader and ScanLife. 2-D bar codes can contain much more information than the ubiquitous one-dimensional bar codes, such as the Universal Product Code, or UPC, which appears on virtually every consumer packaged product sold in the United States.

When a wine shopper scans the new Constellation Wines 2-D bar code, the scan sends them to a mobile web site specially designed for the campaign. The site features a Party Planning Calculator; a shopper enters the length of a party, the number of guests and the available budget and the tool displays customized results recommending the amount of wine needed. The site also includes recommendations for specific wines based on a shopper’s party menu. Additionally, the site enables consumers to opt in to special promotions via text messages and share their party findings on Facebook and Twitter.

Consumers can also gain access to the site by texting keywords including “host,” “wine,” “cheers” or “party” to Constellation Wines’ telecommunications short code, 30333.

Mobile marketing firm Augme Technologies Inc. is enabling the 2-D bar codes, built the mobile site and is managing the text messaging for Constellation Wines.

“By integrating a mobile media component as part of our overarching holiday promotional campaign, we hope to provide consumers with a convenient way to obtain helpful tips and information across a variety of wines within our portfolio, which can enhance their wine buying experience,” says Amy Kupec, group director of promotions at Constellation Wines U.S.

Other retailers are using 2-D bar codes, which are sometimes referred to as QR codes, for Quick Response, one of three types of 2-D bar codes. Sears, for instance, has included the codes in its annual Wish Book. When consumers scan the codes they are sent to special landing pages on Sears’ m-commerce site where they can discover more information or view product videos.

But this new bar code technology is still rare in retail. Most retailers have yet to embrace them and most consumers don’t know what they are.

“It’s an issue of education. We have to explain to the consumer what a 2-D bar code is and how to interact when it is placed in traditional or digital media,” says Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia, which offers the free NeoReader app and provides 2-D bar code technology and marketing services. “What is it, what value can it provide, how do they download the scanner to interact with that code? What kind of phone do they need and how does it work? We also need to be convincing the brands and agencies to be integrating 2-D bar codes into their campaigns. But given that mobile is becoming so successful today, I don’t think that will be a significant hurdle.”

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