Home Depot, Macy’s, Target Evaluating QR Codes That Show Different Things Based On The Consumer’s CRM

Written by Evan Schuman
October 27th, 2011

A QR code approach that will display different information—and initiate different actions—based on the purchase history of the person scanning it is being evaluated by Home Depot, Target and Macy’s, according to the CEO of the QR vendor that is trying to sell that system. This next-generation QR code tactic leverages tracking codes from the mobile phones to establish a customer history and thereby permit highly customized responses.

“At the scan, we get a certain amount of metadata as a result of the scan itself—operating system, carrier, cell tower being used, etc. We get all of that,” said Scanbuy CEO Mike Wehrs. “We know what that app has scanned in the past.” Indeed, Wehrs argues, the app can secure data from the QR code plus the phone plus online data accessed from a retailer’s loyalty card database.

“If the app integrates with their CRM files, it can give a completely customized experience,” he said. Wehrs would not characterize the level of interest from those three chains and neither would representatives from those chains.

The concept of this level of customization, though, has fascinating possibilities. It is similar to the type of personalized Web pages made possible by cookies, but replacing the cookie with a phone could be far more accurate and complete. Cookies can often be blocked—sometimes without a customer’s knowledge, due to some new application—and a customer using a different Web browser can also confuse the system. When a Web consumer moves from a work machine to a mobile device to a home machine, those actions also confuse or block cookie-based customization efforts.

A mobile-based approach is likely to survive all of those issues. As the phone is carried with the person from home to work to recreational activities—and it’s rare for one person to actively be using more than one phone at one time—it’s likely to offer a much more comprehensive history of mobile activities. One drawback: When the customer changes phones, the trail will end unless they set up an account.

The scenario where one huge QR code on the side of a building can cause hundreds of very different tailored messages to appear on consumer phones is compelling. It’s doubly so when the phone then tracks all post QR-scan activities and can then transmit those to the retailer four hours later. Not bad for a geeky rectangle filled with dots.


4 Comments | Read Home Depot, Macy’s, Target Evaluating QR Codes That Show Different Things Based On The Consumer’s CRM

  1. Nick Martin Says:

    It will be interesting to see if the retailers decide to invest in the QR format to provide that kind of experience for their customers. Scanbuy’s app is one of literally hundreds out there. For the experience to be delivered, a person has to know to use their specific app or else they will get a broken experience.

    It would make more sense for the retailers to go with a proprietary format like Microsoft Tag which already has the Device ID capability built into their platform. With only one reader on the market, anyone who scanned would get the appropriate experience.

    In any case, there will be some great lessons to learn if this is implemented.

    Nick Martin
    Online Community Manager
    Microsoft Tag

  2. Mike Wehrs Says:

    Clarification to the post from Microsoft which got some facts wrong.

    This code innovation uses the standard QR symbology and is 100 readable by every scanning app that reads standard QR codes. The scanlife application is very widely distributed and is one of the best scanners available but ANY QR scanner will work.

    This is just one of the many benefits afforded by a non-proprietary code technology and an open standards approach.

    Mike Wehrs
    CEO, Scanbuy

  3. ed Says:

    It is not difficult for these retailers to create a white-label QR code decoder that can send the decoded data as well as other information from the mobile user to their backend system to perform the services indicated in this article. There are plenty of open source solutions for this.

  4. Eric Reed Says:

    eBay, Scanbuy, Mobile Tag / AT&T, Neustar and others license NeoMedia’s mobile barcode scanning patents.

    Interesting comment from Microsoft Tag’s Nick Martin.

    NeoMedia just partnered with Global IP Law Group. The Firm was Nortel Networks advisors regarding the analysis and monetization of its patent portfolio, which included more than 6,000 assets, and sold for $4.5 billion.

    Will Microsoft be next to license NeoMedia’s patents?


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