March 22, 2011, 5:03 PM

The Home Depot customers get a Quick Response from mobile bar codes

The retailer is using 2-D bar codes to help consumers access product information and buy.

Lead Photo

The Home Depot has long emphasized its jovial sales staff that is eager to offer product information and tips in stores. Now the retailer is taking that help to the mobile realm.

The home improvement retailer today announced a series of ads incorporating QR, or Quick Response, two-dimensional bar codes that smartphone owners can scan using an app tied to a smartphone’s camera to access product ratings and reviews, how-to guides, product videos and a web page on which they can make a purchase.

The Home Depot is using the ScanLife 2-D bar code system from Scanbuy Inc. for the program, which will launch this week with a print ad featuring Martha Stewart Living kitchens. The codes will also be placed in direct mail pieces linking to product information and video demos and will be rolled out in stores on store shelves and signs.

Shoppers in the store will be able to access information like product demos and instruction videos, relevant accessories, buying guides, project guides, and an option to purchase online. Codes outside the store will also enable mobile users to make purchases online through their mobile devices, the retailer says.

The Home Depot customers use the ScanLife app to scan the 2-D bar codes, which appear as black-and-white squares with patterns. Customers without the scanning app can download it at or they can text HDscan to 43588. The Home Depot, No.39 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, will be able to track the scans via Scanbuy bar code system analytics to better gauge customers’ interests, view locations of scans and more, Scanbuy says.

“We know our customers are already using their mobile devices to assist in the purchasing process, and now Home Depot is embracing this technology to more closely connect our stores and customers to our digital content,” says Tom Sweeney, senior director of online strategy at

Bar code scanning may lend itself to products such as home furnishings that can have many complex features and are often installed by do-it-yourselfers.

Last month, manufacturer and retailer Vintage Tub and Bath announced it would begin encouraging shoppers in stores considering its high-end Ralph Morris brand to download a free bar code scanning iPhone app from ShowUhow Inc. The ShowUhow app enables shoppers to scan two-dimensional QR codes on Ralph Morris products for more information about the line as well as to gain access to post-sale help such as information on how to install the Randolph Morris products.

Other retailers are trying bar code scanning to promote their brands. Department store chain Macy’s Inc. last month launched a QR bar code scanning marketing program called Macy’s Backstage Pass that lets in-store shoppers use a mobile device to scan a QR code on a product or send a text message to access videos about the designers and brands. The goal, Macy’s says, is to provide consumers with tips and information on the latest trends, and advice and inspiration from celebrity style icons via 30-second films delivered to a phone.

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