July 2, 2012, 10:35 AM

Taking it to the streets

Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble embrace scan-and-shop mobile commerce in street effort.

Lead Photo

Seeking a fresh way to appeal to shoppers on the go, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last month launched a joint effort to promote their brands in New York and Chicago.

The world's largest retailer and the consumer packaged goods manufacturer slapped QR or quick response codes on a truck tooling around New York City and on bus shelters in Chicago that consumers could scan with their smartphones to order goods from Walmart.com. A QR code is a form of two-dimensional bar code. It appears typically as a black-and-white square with a pattern of tiny black-and-white squares within. Smartphone apps scan these codes by using the phone's built-in camera.

Shoppers who scan the codes are directed to the mobile site of Wal-Mart where they can buy items such as Tide and Pampers diapers. The landing pages features nine limited-edition P&G Olympic-themed SKUs, and shoppers can order additional items that are available from P&G at Walmart.com. The campaign displayed QR codes on 12 bus shelters in downtown Chicago and on a truck that was set to make stops at popular New York landmarks such as Union Square Park and the Fashion District, a P&G spokesman says. The pilot also offered free shipping for orders over $45.

The truck also gave samples of limited-edition P&G products and flyers with QR codes consumers can take with them if they want to test out the mobile shopping technology later.

"The urban shopper is important to both Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart, especially in the consumables categories," the P&G spokesman says. "People have yet to really adapt to buying consumables online. We think having free delivery and getting this message out to urban shoppers is a great first start."

Other companies have tested similar QR code programs in big cities—both in the U.S. and abroad. For instance, Peapod recently launched a similar trial in Chicago, placing a virtual grocery store in Chicago's subway. And U.K.-based chain Tesco Stores last year plastered the walls of subway stops in South Korea with images of grocery shelves, complete with bar codes that consumers could scan to complete purchases.


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