The rise of mobile barcode tagging

Last year we predicted 2011 would be the year of mobile retailing and m-commerce. So we were really interested to see figures, released by ASOS at the end of last month, revealing they had taken £1m through their mobile site in December alone.

ASOS plans to launch a fully transactional mobile app later this year to take advantage of the bulging m-commerce market, which has been globally valued at £172bn for 2011 by market analysis’s Informa Telecoms & Media. Other retailers like Net-a-Porter and John Lewis have said they plan to increase their investment in the mobile sector this year by releasing mobile apps and improving their mobile sites.

One mobile tactic we expect to see boom in 2011, particularly for retailers, is the use of QR Codes (mobile tags). At the moment Microsoft is leading the pack with a simple app that can be downloaded for Microsoft 7 phones, Microsoft Windows phones, iPhones, Blackberry’s and Androids. The concept is simple: a publisher, such as a retailer, prints or electronically displays a ‘tag’. Smart phone users can then open the app and scan the tag with the camera on their phone. As soon as the camera reads the tag the user is taken to the webpage that the tag is ‘hyperlinked’ to. To make things more interesting the tags can be printed to display pictures and images so they don’t have to look like traditional dull barcodes.

Just before Christmas, Diddy, (or whatever he likes to call himself these days!) teamed up with Microsoft to donate $50,000 to charity. Over the twelve days of Christmas, users were invited to scan the daily tags to see a picture of Diddy announcing which charity would receive his donation. The campaign site also featured tags that would take users to a page where they could buy his latest album.

Just like generous rappers, the opportunity for innovative retailers to use mobile tags to increase sales is huge. Tags give retailers the chance to connect web and video content with traditional hard-copy marketing materials. For example, displaying tags in-store gives shoppers the chance to learn more about the product; how it was designed and made, for example. If the tags were to be displayed in a catalogue or advert users would be able to buy the product directly from their phone by simply scanning the tag.

Over the course of the next year I suspect we will start seeing these tags popping up everywhere. As soon consumers become familiar using the technology the number of opportunities to use it will multiply drastically. Watch this space!

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