Who’s On Your Retail Radar?

Retail Radar: Suggestions For Your Retail Map

I created a retail roundup, a public Twitter list that brings together the many facets of the retail industry ecosystem.  Think of it as my retail radar for scanning retailing, technology and innovation.  I leverage this list extensively to stay current, find research and uncover case studies to help add color to my customer experience blog series.

By no means is this retail radar list comprehensive and complete but it’s a good starting point for anyone interested in keeping tabs on retailing events, expert opinions, analysts, vendor specific retail practices, analytics and industry publications.

Here are some of my favorite go-to retail specific Twitter handles.


Expert Opinion:

  • Doug Stephens is the author of “The Retail Revival” and advisor on mega-trends in retail and consumerism  @RetailProphet
  • Jason “Retailgeek” Goldberg @RetailGeek VP of Commerce Strategy at Razorfish
  • Paul Schottmiller @RetailForesight Retail Strategy Consultant, Cisco Systems
  • Steven P Dennis @StevenPDennis Senior multi-channel retail executive and strategic growth and marketing advisor. Former SVP @NeimanMarcus

Analysts and Consultants:

 Vendor Specific Retail Practices:

 Analytics and Social Login:

RetailNext Video Teaser – Be Empowered from RetailNext on Vimeo.

Gartner Says Half of New Retail Customer Identities Will Be Based on Social Network Identities by 2015.

 Retail Industry News:


I hope you’ll enjoy these 31 Twitter handle suggestions and the others featured on my Retail Radar list.  Who would you add to the list?


Additional Information:

Sophisticated Guides for Sophisticated Consumers

The Next-Generation Retail Associate will be the cornerstone of personalized and unique shopping experiences.  They will be the ones wielding the mobile point of sale (POS) and information devices; and will be the face of the brand with the consumer.

“ They will be engaging individuals who are capable of building strong emotional connections with consumers, and they will be supported by technologies that will help them to achieve this.” – Doug Stephens @RetailProphet and author of The Retail Revival

This evolving new breed of associates will barely resemble those we have become used to (put up with) over the last two or three decades.  They will be computer and mobile savvy and have superior interpersonal skills. And the more languages they speak to accommodate the customer, the better.  Let’s take a glimpse into their technology-enabled world in the not-too-distant future …


1)     Mobile-Device Enabled

The mobile device will be the most important tool for working in this new environment.

“Retailers surveyed for the 2013 RIS News Store Systems Study, released in August 2013, identified ‘mobile for associates’ as their top store system priority, chosen by 61% of respondents.” – Retail Info Systems (RIS)

2)     Access to In-Store Wi-Fi

If mobile devices are the embodiment of this new era of retail, in-store Wi-Fi is the behind-the-scenes magic that will make it possible. It will arm associates with:

  • Source: Operating Seamlessly: Integrating Operations to Deliver the Non-Stop Customer Experience, 2013 via @AccentureRetail
    Source: Operating Seamlessly: Integrating Operations to Deliver the Non-Stop Customer Experience, 2013 via @AccentureRetail

    Store and company-wide inventory

  • In-depth product specifications
  • Product reviews
  • Customer name, demographics, purchase history
  • Customer loyalty program information
  • Employee collaboration and social tools

3)     Workforce Management Solutions

These systems offer many sophisticated tools for managers and associates to plan, record and optimize their tasks, including:

  • Scheduling information
  • Recording time worked
  • Shift bidding (where associates can swap shifts with others according to guidelines)
  • Exchanging information with HR

4)     Superior Customer Service Capability

Armed with easy access to information about the customer standing right in front of them — and what the store can offer to them — the associate will be empowered to deliver excellent and personalized customer service:

  • Greet customer via mobile phone upon entering the store
  • Guide customers on how to leverage loyalty program perks
  • Answer customer in-depth questions about products and selection
  • Offer customers information on useful add-on or additional products
  • Check stock without leaving the customer
  • Order on-line for them and arrange delivery, if not in stock (“endless aisle” concept)
  • Complete transaction via mobile POS so customer doesn’t need to wait in line
Source RIS: Preparing Associates for a New Paradigm in Customer Service
Source RIS: Preparing Associates for a New Paradigm in Customer Service


The challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers will be to find these people.

perlsThis will require rethinking the value of the associate to the organization. Better compensation and training will be needed to mold these associates into ambassadors for their brand.

“ Retailers seeking to prepare their associates for a new paradigm will need to start thinking of that workforce as skilled users of technology, and train them in managing and meeting customer expectations that continue to climb.” – Retail Information Systems


Additional Information:

@LinaArseneault Retail Blog Roll:

Potpourri Food for Thought: The Retail Remake

Attention Retailers | By 2016 there will be 2.43B smartphoes in use – it’s time for you to meet us  on our terms!

As Senior Director of Marketing for wireless security leader AirTight Networks, I get to engage with a broad cross-section of quick service restaurant customers such as Yum Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut), Noodles and Company, PinkBerry and Garden Fresh. With great success, AirTight is contuing its push into this segment of retail:

AirTight Launches Retail Wi-Fi Analytics Engine for In-Store Business Intelligence and Customer Engagement

 @Airtight Launches Social WiFi for Integrated Retail In-Store Engagement

In support of this effort, I recently wrote several blog posts on the evolution of retail – especially as it pertains to the customer experience.

The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism [Doug Stephens]

PurpleWifi Guest Blog Post : 80% of mobile consumers are influenced by in store WiFi

To shop or not to shop?  in-store Wi-Fi is the answer to that question

Book review: The #Retail Revival by Doug Stephens @RetailProphet | blog post by Lina Arseneault

PurpleWifi Guest Blog Post : Retail Revival Book Review

Doug Stephens, author of The Retail Revival generously granted me a half hour interview.  I look forward to working with him in the near future.

Doug Stephens response to book review tweet

It’s clear that Internet connectivity will influence every facet of the retail industry.  Consider this statistic from the hospitality segment:

Factors that influence hotel booking choices|

Free in-room #WiFi is now considered THE most important amenity when booking a trip | http://twitpic.com/cgigq5


When it comes to making purchase decisions, how important is always on access on your smart device?


Retail Wi-Fi as a Competitive Advantage - webinar


Retail Wi-Fi as a Competitive Advantage [on-demand webinar]



Send suggestions for future Potpourri Food for Thought features.

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Social Media Crisis: An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge and they are extremely popular of late.

To round out my Social Media Blunder series, I am featuring an infographic by Patricia Redsicker of www.wordviewediting.com.   How to Avoid A Social Media Crisis [Infographic] characterizes Jeremiah Owyang’s work on social business hierarchy of needs.

Altimeter Blog:  “Research Report: Be Prepared by Climbing the Social Business Hierarchy of Needs“ by Jeremiah Owyang  | Download  the complete report.  August 31, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Now more than ever, it’s important for companies to listen to their customers on social media yet according to an infographic from Get Satisfaction and Column Five, 50 percent of companies say it’s not a core function of their business.  With the rise of power to the consumer via social media, companies will need to invest in listening.

United Breaks Guitars” is a protest song by CanadianmusicianDave Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell. It chronicles a real-life experience of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in 2008, and the subsequent reaction from the airline.  Over 12 million people have watched the YouTube video.

LA Fitness endures social media nightmare | via The Drum

Listening: Recognition Through Active Monitoring

  • Whether you take this on yourself or entrust it to a reputation management firm, it’s essential for you to know when trouble is brewing.
  • Listen all the time, not only on weekdays.

More on “listening” via @LaSandraBrill, Senior Manager Social Media at Cisco : [SlideShare] Cisco and the Social Web: Listening and Responding to Your Customers and Prospects

The Science of Listening in Social Media and Blogs via Kuno Creative

InformationWeek: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web and 7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online

More on Infographics

Social media is reinventing how business is done – via USATODAY.com


Related Posts

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PotPourri Food For Thought : Mary Meeker on Internet 2012

Hungry for a view into the future of the Internet?

Check out Mary Meeker’s take on the latest Internet trends via a massive (112 slides) slide deck (May 2012, updated annually).  This year’s report has five sections that cover the following:

  1. basic statistics,
  2. re-imagination (of nearly everything),
  3. read on the economy,
  4. USA Inc. ( a non-partisan look at the U.S. government (and its financials) from a business perspective), and
  5. “bubble” (or not?).

View Mary Meeker D10 Interview (Video, 17 minutes) via AllThingsD

The re-imagination section includes several examples of business models through to what Kleiner Perkins’ refers to as:

the “third wave of innovation,” combining social networking, mobile and e-commerce.

In December, 2010 Mary Meeker left her position as a managing director at Morgan Stanley and head of the bank’s global technology research team to become a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.  Meeker was named “one of the ten smartest people in tech” by “Fortune” magazine in 2010.

More on Internet 2012:

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Cross Media Optimization with QR Codes

Mobile social networking is surging and calls for new user paradigms and behaviors … but nothing kills faster than poor execution.  Mobile methods to engage the customer are expanding, making control of the engagement a higher priority for maximum reach and effective conversion.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss the usefulness of QR Codes.  Naysayers usually narrowly describe them as “QR codes in ads”.  Before deeming QR codes ineffective, consider them in a broader spectrum than B2C advertising.  Armed with a specific goal and positioned in the right medium, they can be highly effective.

Be very clear with your mobile-social goals:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?

  • Who are you trying to reach?

  • What’s your success target?

x2x universes | What’s your perspective? and how can mobile-social support your marketing goals?

B2B : Business-to-business (B2B) describes commerce transactions between businesses, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.

Business-to-government (B2G, sometimes BtA or business-to-administration) is a derivative of B2B marketing and often referred to as a market definition of “public sector marketing” which encompasses marketing products and services to various government levels – including federal, state and local – through integrated marketing communications techniques such as strategic public relations, branding, marcom, advertising, and web-based communications

e-Government:  The four types of e-government services are Government-to-Citizen (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government-to-Employee (G2E), and Government-to-Government (G2G).

Business-to-Consumer (B2C, sometimes BtC)   is a term that describes communication and trade relations between companies and private individuals (consumers).

BYOD : Here, There and Everywhere

Coupled with the BYOD movement overtaking the business world, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on mobile-social behavior in many settings.

  • Bring your own device (BYOD) is an alternative strategy allowing employees, business partners and other users to use a personally selected and purchased client device to execute enterprise applications and access data. Source: Gartner Glossary.

For 2012, Deloitte forecasts that smartphones will influence $159 billion in retail sales.

Deloitte’s Study is based on a survey of United States consumers about how they use their smartphones to shop today and measures the impact of smartphones on in-store sales. This includes in-store sales driven by consumers’ store-related smartphone activity such as product research, price comparison or other mobile application use.

Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2012

Kasey Lobaugh, direct-to-consumer and retail multichannel practice leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, New York comments on the findings:

  • Smartphones will influence 19 percent of retailers’ sales by 2016
  • Smartphone shoppers are 14 percent more likely to convert and make a purchase in the store than non-smartphone users.
  • If a consumer is using a retailer’s mobile app, they are 21 percent more likely to convert in the store
    • “This shows the power of owning that interface with the consumer as opposed to allowing them to go to a third party interface while in the store.”

Read more at Mobile Commerce Daily


Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter.  Check out All Things QR Codes


CaféLina QRart code designed by Jean-Michel Roblin of Ineoscan.com | scan drives to CaféLina blog

More QR Market Research

Gartner Webcast Archive : The Gartner Hype Cycle Special Report: What’s Hot for 2012 hosted by Jackie Fenn, VP & Gartner Fellow Emeritus.

QRart:  According to Gartner (as of July 2011), QR/color code is positioned in the early “slope of enlightenment” stage with an 2-5 years estimated time frame to full mainstream adoption (i.e. reaching plateau of productivity).

Following are 3 examples of cross-media optimization with QR Codes:

        1. Walgreens: mobile app adoption

        2. Fandango: mobile tickets sales

        3. Shoebox: increase Facebook fan base


In its qrcode101 approach, Walgreens cleverly directs customers to the Walgreens’ Mobile App with built-in QR scanner versus an independent QR scan application.

  • For more on Walgreens Cross-Media Optimization, check out the following SlideShare Companion.


“Mobile purchases now comprise 27 percent of Fandango’s overall ticket sales.”  |  Jessica Yi, chief product officer at Fandango | July 2012

Source:  Mobile Commerce Daily

Shoebox aims to increase its Facebook Fan Base

What QR code integrations have caught your eye?

Additional Information:

Related Posts:


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What You Should Know About QR Code Hype

Recently, I attended a live Gartner webcast “The Gartner Hype Cycle Special Report: What’s Hot for 2012” hosted by Jackie Fenn, VP & Gartner Fellow Emeritus.  In the hour long webinar, she reviewed the hottest new technologies and trends in this year’s Hype Cycles as well as which technologies will generate the most value and opportunity.

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As it turns out, QR/color code (what I refer to as QRart) is one of the hottest opportunities with a high benefit rating. According to Gartner (as of July 2011), QR/color code is positioned in the early “slope of enlightenment” stage with an 2-5 years estimated time frame to full mainstream adoption (i.e. reaching plateau of productivity).

Pete Basiliere,Tomoko Mitani and Sandy Shen provide analysis for the QR/color code portion of the most recent Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2011 report (pages 64-65).  They note that QR code adoption has been steadily increasing in North America since late 2009.  Following are a few excerpts from that section of the report:

Advice for marketing departments: QR/color codes are more than a link to a Web page. Think through the entire campaign and ideally provide unique landing pages for each application of the QR/color code. While public disclosure of campaign successes will be limited, monitor the spread of QR-enabled mobile devices, observe how your competition is using the technology and begin testing customer reactions to the codes.

Business Impact: Relatively advanced in Asia, the use of QR codes is poised to take off in North  America once the tipping point — a sufficient number of enabled mobile phones balanced by marketing campaigns employing QR codes — is reached. QR codes have the potential, when used in an integrated marketing campaign that leverages their unique capabilities, to drive significant revenue by providing the instantaneous response to user queries that enable calls to action that print cannot offer on its own.

  • Benefit Rating: High
  • Market Penetration: 5% to 20% of target audience
  • Maturity: Early mainstream

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The analysts note that unlike classic QR codes that simply sit off to the side of a page and take up valuable space in printed advertisements or on product packaging, QRart can be incorporated within the overall design without detracting from the image aesthetics.

This is exemplified in the work of @YiyingLu

Custom Wall Graphics for Austrade at the Computer History Museum by @YiyingLu

You can view @YiyingLu ‘s latest projects, including ‘Custom Wall Graphics for Austrade at the Computer History Museum’ and ‘Custom Wall Graphics + Promotional Badges for Startup Debut @ CES’ at http://blog.walls360.com/yiyinglu-latest-qr-art-projects/

Patrick Donnelly of QRarts captures the essence of QR/color codes perfectly when he states

“Forget everything you have heard about QR codes up to this point. The promise of QR can only begin to be realized by thinking of how they relate to both user experience and media integration. Everyone knows QR codes can help you get from A to B. However, the journey is part of a much bigger movement where mobile is converting impressions to interactions on a personal and a trackable level – which is rather remarkable.”

Read more of Patrick’s post at How to convert impressions into interactions on mobile.

Gartner’s estimation of a 2-5 year time frame to full mainstream adoption of QR/color code may reflect that, unlike what Patrick states – not “Everyone knows QR codes can help you get from A to B”.  As QR code readers become more pervasive on North American smartphones and bundled in mobile applications (e.g. Starbucks), the link from A to B will realize its full potential. Truly a visionary, Patrick Donnelly sees applications well beyond activation of print media.

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Will we soon see them appear on TV screens?

Additional References & Information:

Marketing Artfully: QRart and ‘Not So Pretty’ Implementations of QR Codes

In his 2012 social media predictions, Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions forecasts that QR codes will become obsolete.  He stipulates that QR codes are “mis-applied, over-used gimmick and people will end up not trusting them”.  I agree with him that mis-applications abound but nevertheless, I think that QR codes are here to stay.  In 2012, I predict that a few shining stars will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.

Are you new to QR codes?  You can reference two CaféLina blog posts on the subject. The first one is “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?”, it outlines QR code basics and provides 10 application examples complete with reference links. As for the second post “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, it incorporates examples from the feedback I received and points to the Quiet Revolution Slide Share presentation companion.  The Slide Share material includes all the references from the original Quiet Revolution post plus 5 bonus examples including IneoScan.

Cafelina.me QRart
Cafelina.me QRart. IneoScan recommends the i-nigma reader to experience the full breath of this QRart.

In appreciation for the mention of his startup and work in “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, IneoScan sent me an unexpected surprise.  Ineoscan designer extraordinaire Jean-Michel Roblin gifted me a “made in Paris” artful version of a QR code that drives to my cafélina blog. I am very grateful for this act of QRart kindness. I’ll be able to integrate it in my marketing outreach activities.

Unlike the standard black and white version, QRart is artful, colored and creative quick response (QR) code design.  QRart takes QR codes to a whole new level by blending QR code and design to allow for the artful activation of print.  To get a sense for the possibilities of designer QR codes, you can visit the following three QRart galleries:  IneoScan, QRazystuff.com and Kalvin Kleen.

Whatever your sport, hobby, cause, or business – there’s a way to contextualize a designer QR code that drives to a “call-to-action”.  The key is to “be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on. You’ll be successful in your QR code application as long as you take into account the following 3 points:

  1. Mobile marketing is more actionable than other forms of web marketing
  2. QR codes are linked to mobile
  3. Design your QR customer journey with mobile in mind
Actionable Marketing
“Be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on.

All too often, mis-applications of QR codes involves a poorly designed or completely overlooked mobile experience.  A mobile screen simply doesn’t have the same type of real-estate as a desktop PC.  Most web material is designed for the traditional PC viewing experience. Programming a QR code to point to a web destination intended for a PC screen is simply not as effective on a mobile screen.

I predict that along with successful QR codes applications, we will see a shift in the design of online content that favors the mobile screen.  In this regard, mobile marketing and Twitter have a lot in common.  There are 5 things to keep in mind when designing your QR codes mobile experience:

  1. Get to the point (what’s the customer offer and the call to action)
  2. Brevity is clarity (Gerry McGovern has a lot to say on that subject)
  3. Don’t strain my eyes (it’s a mobile device)
  4. Don’t make me work (drill down and scroll through = drop-off)
  5. Where’s the beef (engaging customer offer = positive reinforcement of the perceived brand value)
January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal, page C3

The January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal featured two book ads: “Cell 8” and “A Walk Across the Sun”.

Both ads appeared on page C3 of the newspaper and each ad had its own QR code.  The QR code for “A Walk Across the Sun” drives to a web destination that provides 4 distinct call to action options:

              1. Purchase the book
              2. What readers are saying
              3. Watch the video
              4. Read an excerpt

As for “Cell 8”, it has a ‘not so pretty’ implementation of its QR code destination.  It leads directly to an excerpt of the book and nothing else.  Is this not a missed opportunity to capitalize on an ‘actionable mobile life’ moment?  Accordingly,  “A Walk Across the Sun” gets top marks.

‘Cell 8’ and ‘Walk Across the Sun’ QR codes web destination

Also in the “not so pretty” category is Palo Alto Networks, the Santa Clara based network security company and their ad from the January 9th 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal.  The ad touts the company’s highly desirable position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls.  The ad concludes with this tag line: “Get an exclusive report at http://www.paloaltonetworks.com or scan QR code below.”  This is essentially two vague calls to action:

  1. Go to the web site to get an exclusive report (why not say the Gartner report instead of “an exclusive report”?), and
  2. Scan the QR code (presumably to get “an exclusive report”?)

As it turns out, after many steps and screens, and providing registration information; both calls to action eventually lead to the “exclusive report”. You really have to want the exclusive report! The captured registration information results in a call-back and email follow-up.  You can see the full step by step “not so pretty” implementation unfold in the Slide Share companion to this blog post.

Starbucks makes me hopeful that 2012 will provide a few shining stars who will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.  Building on the growing adoption of its mobile application, Starbucks recently released a new version of the app that extends well beyond the “digital mobile payment” option.  The Starbucks mobile app now comes with an imbedded QR code reader (thereby overcoming one of Mark Schaefer’s main objections of having to download a QR reader). On January 13th 2012, I picked up a QR coupon after sampling the newest Starbucks coffee blend. My only criticism of Starbucks QR implementation is having to scroll down three screens before I got to “vote” for my fovorite blend.

As I see it, four factors give Starbucks steaming hot QR potential:

  1. QR Reader bundled in mobile app
  2. New Starbucks promotions with QRart (multiple ‘actionable mobile life’ moment opportunities)
  3. Tracking and metrics (Starbucks will learn and refine its approach)
  4. Customer engagement and feedback (company and customer have much to learn about each other)

In closing, as William Arruda reports in a MarketingProfs column (Personal Branding Trends for 2012 (Part 1)), according to brandchanel.com, it’s now possible to place extremely large QR codes on the tops of buildings.  The large size codes can then be photographed by the satellites that feed Google Maps and Google Earth. Those QR codes will be digested by Google’s mapping systems and will cause companies’ logos to appear when someone looks at their building’s images.

Will 2012 be the year that we see QR codes take off in all kinds of directions?

Additional QR Information and Discussion:

Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”

In a recent post called “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?” I posed the question “QR Codes: Here To Stay or Fade Away?”.  It seems that the consensus is on the “here to stay” (enhance and evolve).  My post described 10 use cases of QR codes and asked for your examples.  Many of you wrote with interesting applications.

Diantha Pinner wrote about how she enjoys her QR Code library card.  She writes: “Our local public libraries enable you to convert your barcoded library card into a QR code on your phone. One less card in my wallet or on my key chain and I never have to wonder whether I left it at home.”   Carol Walker illustrates Diantha’s point in a comprehensive Slide Share reference presentation.  It is titled “QR Codes: Application in Libraries” .

Cisco social media expert Deb Strickland commented on the importance of designing the QR programmed destination with mobile in mind.  She writes: “I have seen some QR codes that send people to a web page that was not optimized for mobile – so don’t make that mistake.”

One of the most interesting notes was from Pascal Romano.  Pascal and I worked together at Cisco (Lina in California, Pascal in France) where I had had the opportunity to meet with his customers at Cisco’s San Jose Executive Briefing Center.  Pascal wrote to me about his brother-in-law’s new QR Code business.  IneoScan is an innovative Paris startup that is taking QR codes to a whole new level by enabling the blending of QR code and art form to allow for the activation of print.

IneoScan QRart

Designers from across the world created beautiful QRart forms.  They are being showcased in art shows in several cities.  You can experience mobile QRart content created by talented artists from across the globe on the IneoScan site.  IneoScan recommends the i-nigma reader to experience the full breath of this QRart.

On Slide Share, you’ll find the companion to “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?”.  The material includes all the references from the original post plus 5 bonus examples (including IneoScan, “Use QR Codes so You Don’t Get Thrown Away After Tradeshows” which is a MarketingProfs column by Sarah Baker, and the San Jose Sharks) and reference links.  Check it out and provide your feedback.

Next time you’re on the go and see a QR code, snap a picture and send it along with your comments.

QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?

Lina’s business card QR code

The révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution) was the 1960s period of intense change in the province of Québec.  It was characterized by the rapid secularization of society, the creation of a welfare state (État-providence) and a re-alignment of politics. These changes ultimately shaped a distinct, strong and flourishing National Identity.  In the digital and social world, will QR codes have their own digital “Quiet Revolution” or will they fade into oblivion because they lack purpose, identity and a sense of belonging?Not just another passing fad, QR codes and the results of their ensuing “Quiet Revolution” are paving a new road to a digital and social world.  QR codes are creating a bridge between the physical world we live in and the ever evolving digital social world.

What’s a QR code and why should you care? (video)  Before we look at some of the burgeoning uses of QR codes, let’s quickly review QR code basics.

A QR (Quick Response) code is a two dimensional bar code originally designed for the automotive industry.  QR codes allow its contents to be decoded at high speed providing you have a QR code reader installed on your mobile phone.  Whether it’s in traditional media placements such as magazines or billboards, when you see a QR code, you can simply take a picture of it with your phone’s camera and you’ll be directed to the embedded information of that code.  The programmed destination could be a website, video, text message or telephone number.

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QR codes are easy to create (using a QR generator application) and then embed into the physical world.  With a minimal cost to entry, the possibilities for uses abound. 

Here are 10 QR code applications:

1)     Government agency forms and communications now often come with QR codes.  Scanning them allows the user to quickly be directed to the relevant web location specific to the subject form or letter.

2)     With a QR Code, real estate signs and flyers advertising a market listing provide quick online access to property and agent information.  Change in price, availability or terms, no need to reprint the flyers, simply update the information on the web site.

3)     Before digital books completely overtake hard copy books, there is the case for enabling the transition from print to digital.  Prolific blogger, social media expert and author Michelle Blanc does a wonderful job of that in her French social media books (aptly called social media 101 and 102) by including QR codes and easy to reference shortened URL footnotes throughout the text.  Check out the QR code on the cover of her most recent book.

4)     Recently, I was a guest at Google’s main Mountain View campus.  After enjoying a wonderful lunch in the legendary Googleplex café, my host and I made our way to a meeting room.  Every meeting room door on the Google campus has a QR code that provides all the specifications (size, equipment) and scheduling information specific for that room.  Use your phone and reserve the room on the fly – no need to fire up that bulky pc and search for the logistics pages.

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5)     Stand out from the crowd.  Should your resume have a QR code?  You can read a great blog post on the subject.  As the author suggests, maybe you shouldn’t include a QR code in your resume but I would argue that your business cards should include one.  The code should point to your digital business profile.  You could program it to lead to your public LinkedIn profile.  I recently designed a set of 2 sided custom business cards that include a QR code as well as Lina specific images.  I learned about MOO cards from a trusted social network connection.  Talk about giving a classic calling card a digital make-over!

6)     Need stocking stuffer ideas?  Along the same lines as the MOO QR business card, you can design your own QR code stickers to put on your digital treasures (telephone, laptop, etc.) or get some personalized luggage tags with a QR code image.  Make yourself and your love ones (people and things) easy to find.

7)     Thinking of updating your estate plan?  It can now include provisions for a digital epitaph tribute grave marker.  The inscription on the grave stone includes a QR code leading to a viewable memorial tribute page that tells your life story.  A trip to the cemetery might actually come to life!

In the following tweet, Jeff Bullas references a post by Mark Schaefer who in turn introduces a brilliant SharePoint presentation by Gregory Pouy:  The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns.

@jeffbullas: The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns http://t.co/HouREJLF via @markwschaefer

Want to learn about boundless and creative possibilities, this material is a must read/view.  Specific to QR codes, check out the 2nd and 3rd case studies featured in Gregory’s material.

8)     2nd video case study |The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy:  Tesco (Home Plus)View the video on slide 15 of 61.  Through the creative use of QR codes in subway stations, Korean supermarket chain Home Plus allows shoppers to do their shopping without ever visiting an actual store.

Follow Lina Arseneault on Twitter.

9)     3rd video case study “The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy”:  NY Central Park comes to digital life via a museum in the park experience featuring Park codes.  View the video on slide 22 of 61.

Let’s have a riddle to close off this QR list.  What do you get when you cross a QR code with an OREO cookie? 

10)  Answer:  a QREO of course!  Admittedly, it’s not the most practical application of QR technology but it can certainly be characterized as innovative and wittyQR + OREO = QREO comes by way of All TOP and Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki.

Far from being “quite redundant” given ever increasing smartphone numbers, QR codes are far from being another passing fad.  Rather, they represent the humble beginnings of a “Quiet Revolution” journey on the way to a connected and social world.  NFC and location based services, bring it on!

What QR codes have you noticed and quietly tried out?