March 2, 2011, 1:29 PM

Vintage Tub & Bath gets its feet wet in bar code scanning

The retailer and manufacturer will begin using bar codes to help educate consumers.

Lead Photo

Vintage Tub & Bath Inc., a manufacturer and retailer specializing in vintage home fixtures ranging from claw foot tubs to farmhouse sinks, knows it’s hard to find that perfect antique bathtub. Consumers in the market for such unique pieces want as much information as possible before pulling out their pocketbooks.

To help shoppers looking at one of Vintage’s brands—the high-end line of Randolph Morris bathroom products—the manufacturer soon will begin encourging shoppers in stores selling the line and in its showroom to download a free bar code scanning iPhone app from ShowUhow Inc. The ShowUhow app enables shoppers to scan two-dimensional QR, or Quick Response, codes on Ralph Morris products  for more information about the line as well gain access to post-sale help such as information on how to install the Randolph Morris products.

A 2-D bar code appears as a square with a black and white pattern within, and it can contain much more information than a standard one-dimensional bar code like the Universal Product Code, or UPC. Consumers access web content via a 2-D code by holding the camera screen of their bar code scanner app-equipped smartphone over the code. The app recognizes the code and then automatically links the consumer to a mobile web page or mobile web-hosted video.

A ShowUhow in-house team built the app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. When a consumer goes to the app’s main menu, he can choose between two options, “scan bar code” or “enter product information.” Consumers take one of the two actions and the app then provides the consumer with a video, instruction guide and product sales overview with information on setting up, configuring and using a product, as well as information about its features and benefits. Additional product information can include customer service contacts, downloadable instruction manuals and warranty information.

ShowUhow works with product manufacturers to develop the video guides. One of the goals is for consumers to get answers to product set-up questions without having to contact a customer service center, which saves a retailer or manufacturer customer service costs, ShowUhow says. And by demonstrating how the product sets up and operates, the app can increase customer satisfaction and reduce returns, the company adds.

“With the QR code reader, we can now instantly educate consumers about our line of quality bathroom products as well as offer post-sale support for set-up and installation assistance,” says Jason Puso, CEO of Vintage Tub & Bath.

ShowUhow has worked with consumer electronics, home improvement and toy manufacturers and retailers including Best Buy, Costco, Wal-Mart and ToysRUs.

“Adding a QR code reader to the ShowUhow mobile application is a natural evolution of our product design,” says Kim Folsom, founder and CEO of ShowUhow. “This will help shoppers access manufacturers’ product support instantly, and allow manufacturers to take advantage of the latest innovations in QR codes. It’s yet another way we can help differentiate our clients’ products at the point of sale.”

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