January 4, 2012, 12:14 PM

Retailers stuff their stores with QR codes

Some put them in surprising locations.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Storefront windows, cash registers and even inside fitting roms proved to be popular locations for retailers to place Quick Response codes.

Consumers shopping in some New England stores this past holiday season may have spotted Quick Response codes in some unusual places. Research from mobile marketing and technology firm Nellymoser Inc. found that of more than 700 stores canvassed in the Boston area, 23 contained at least one QR code, a type of two-dimensional bar code.

Retailers use 2-D bar codes to enable consumers to view mobile web-based content with their smartphones. Consumers click to open a free scanning app, point the phone at the code, and the web content appears on the phone’s screen.

Within this group of 23, seven retailers placed the codes on their storefront windows. “The front window not only reaches today’s shoppers, but also people who are walking past the store and could become shoppers after looking at the retailer’s offerings,” says Roger Matus, Nellymoser executive vice president.

Five retailers placed the codes on product displays. Four put the codes inside fitting rooms, with three each placing the codes at their store entrances and at cash registers.

Nellymoser suggests the fitting room location enables retailers to take advantage of the relatively distraction-free space to promote the QR codes.

Some retailers, such as American Eagle Outfitters Inc., No. 102 in the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Top 300, and Express Inc., No. 61, used QR codes to prompt consumers to download the merchants’ iPhone or Android apps.

Other retailers, such as Pottery Barn Teen, a unit of Williams-Sonoma Inc., No. 25 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, offered discounts and special offers for scanning a QR code.

“We expected that QR codes would be near merchandise to explain more about each product,” Matus says. “Instead, we found that QR codes were often used as a way to build a relationship beyond the bricks-and-mortar location with app downloads and social media sharing.”

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