August 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

The U.S. Postal Service delivers merchants a 2-D bar code promotion for the holidays

The campaign will offer e-retailers a 2% postage discount on standard mail and first-class mail letters, flats and cards that include a mobile bar code such as a QR code.

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It isn't just retailers offering holiday promotions this year. The U.S. Postal Service is getting in on the action. The post office will debut Nov. 7 a program designed to drive online product purchases by putting mobile-optimized promotional offers, coupons and catalogs into consumers' hands. The 2012 Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion will offer online merchants a 2% postage discount on standard mail and first-class mail letters, flats and cards that include a mobile bar code, such as a QR code, that can be read or scanned by a mobile device and leads the mail recipient to a mobile commerce site. The promotion will run through Nov. 21.

"By offering a short-term promotion linking mail and mobile devices during the key holiday purchasing time frame, the Postal Service is providing online merchants with an incentive designed to increase industry adoption of a physical-to-digital marketing approach," says Gary Reblin, vice president, domestic products, at the Postal Service.

Program registration opens Sept. 15 and continues through Nov. 21. Participants must agree to partake in a survey about the promotion.

The promotion comes at a time when the scanning of 1-D and 2-D bar codes is gaining significant ground. In the second quarter of 2012, the number of scans of 1-D and 2-D bar codes through mobile bar code technology provider ScanLife's free bar code reader app jumped to 16.0 million, up 154% from 6.3 million in the second quarter of 2011.

1-D bar codes are linear and found on virtually all products; the most common 1-D code is the UPC, or Universal Product Code. 2-D bar codes are squares with patterns within; these include Quick Response, or QR, codes, Microsoft Corp. Tags, and others.

The ScanLife app has surpassed 20 million downloads, the company reports. "This rate of growth in scans and downloads reflects a technology that has clearly moved beyond the early adopter stage and has gone mainstream," says Mike Wehrs, CEO and president of ScanLife.


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