It all started in Seoul, South Korea, in July 2011. Tesco (branded Home Plus in South Korea) sought a way to increase its market share without increasing the number of stores. This led to the idea of virtual stores.
Products images were displayed in a subway station in Seoul, with QR codes allowing commuters to scan and add the items to a virtual shopping basket, checkout and pay. Products were then delivered when they got home.
The concept won numerous marketing awards and drew a lot of attention within the retailer and marketing communities. So much so that Home Plus brought it into a reality on August 25th, for a period of three months, in the arrivals hall of the Seonreung subway station, in Seoul.
In the same week, Ocado, the UK online grocery retailer launched its own ‘virtual shop window’ for Apple iPhone users at London’s One New Change shopping centre.
As an online retailer, about 15 per cent of Ocado transactions were taking place on a mobile at the time. Becoming the leading mobile retailer therefore seems the logical next step, which Ocado doesn’t hide: Jason Gissing, Ocado’s co-founder, said: “We’ll be looking at options around continuing this ‘virtual window shopping’ approach.”
Soon, other retailers joined the fray, and over the last couple of months not a week has gone by without a retailer or a brand announcing its own virtual shop:
Oct 7: HSN HD, a US home shopping Television channel, used ’scan & shop’ QR Codes during its Innovation Weekend to test whether viewers would purchase items with their mobile phones.
Oct 31: Procter & Gamble, one of the most innovative consumer goods manufacturer, set up virtual stores in four of the busiest subway stations in Prague, where busy consumers on their way to and from work could purchase essentials via their mobile phones.
Nov 15: HMV (a UK retailer focused on music & movies) and Twentieth Century Fox, used QR codes printed on ads on the bus shelters, leading directly to a mobile app to purchase the DVDs advertised.
Nov 28: John Lewis, a UK retailer, trialled QR codes with the launch of a virtual shop in Brighton (UK).
Dec 1: eBay opened its ‘QR emporium’ on one of London’s high street.
Dec 13 Argos, another UK retailer, opened its virtual shop in Waterloo and Paddington tube stations.
Lasting trend or just a fad?
Critics were quick to dismiss these initiatives as a stunt to increase awareness. So far, no numbers have been released; however these initiatives make sense. They are the answer to a lasting trend that will have profound consequences for our digital lives; and there is a wealth of statistics and research that corroborates this observation. To name but a few:
Love it or hate it, retail is going mobile. And it’s happening now.
Note on how this code works:
The code above uses ScanLife “Smartcode” technology which uses real time data to dynamically update the content you see. In this case, our system calculates the number of Total Scans on this code which is then formulated into the giving amount. We only count hits to the page that come through the scan of a barcode whether it comes from our app or any other.
We have already made a $500 donation, and now you can help us give more!
ScanLife was launched in Beta in 2008. At the time, cameras were terrible, and we had a perfect answer to bring 2D codes to millions of phones. The answer was in the form of the EZcode which is an awesome solution, but it had one stigma – proprietary. While marketers and publishers loved the technology, we quickly realized that they did not love it’s limitation of reach (only compatible with the ScanLife app).
So, in 2009, we made the specs available for the EZcode, but more importantly added open source QR Codes to our platform and to our application. Since that time, the world of open source mobile barcode scanning has exploded. The ScanLife platform has generated tens of thousands of open QR Codes which can be read by any standard app. Therefore, we are seeing millions of scans per month and seeing 4x growth versus 2010. Clearly this was the path forward for both marketers and users.
This week, Microsoft Tag made their decision to enter the world of open standards – almost 3 years after their product was launched. We applaud this decision, and only wish they saw the light sooner. In that time, consumers and publishers have been unnecessarily confused by a closed code format which only works with a single app. We believe more open QR Codes will only mean more value to both end users and the businesses that use them to connect the physical world.
We know for a fact that code publishers choose “open” because the most important thing is reach. Scanbuy just conducted an online survey among marketers, and the numbers speak for themselves (more details soon):
The world of 2D codes will continue to evolve and we believe the best way for that to happen is by building from an open source symbology or “gateway.” What you can do from that gateway is endless, and a managed platform (like ScanLife) can help harness that potential by using real time data, dynamic code actions and mobile formatted content.
Open is good, open is powerful. Now let’s work together to unleash it’s full potential.
ScanLife 4.0, includes a couple cool new features to make barcode scanning a bit more fun for the holiday season. One feature allows users to customize the scanner screen by selecting from themes like “Top Gun” and “Holiday Cheer”. Just go to the Settings screen in the app to change it any time!
Current theme examples from our app:
Now we want YOU to design the next custom Scanner Theme and be seen by millions of ScanLife users around the globe!
So whether you’re a Photoshop expert or just have a knack for basic design, we want to see your ideas. Make it fun, make it cool, make it colorful – whatever you want! Just remember to leave some open space in the center of the screen so you can see what you’re scanning…
What do you get?
The winner will receive a $200 Gift Card and have their personal Scanner design embedded in the next release of the ScanLife app for iPhone and Android!
Rules to Enter
Entries will be taken until January 1st, 2012.
Now get creative and good luck! If you don’t have the current ScanLife app, just go to www.getscanlife.com from your mobile device.
Black Friday to Christmas is always the busiest time for retailers, and it is for us also! Now that the dust has settled (a bit) from the opening party (aka Black Friday, and now “Cyberweek”), we wanted to share some interesting stats.
First we should say that the 10 days from 11/24-12/4 were record breaking days which saw scan rates as high as 8 per second. We also recorded our biggest single scan day ever on Black Friday which was very exciting!
Some other fun facts:
Thanks to all of our users for being part of these momentous numbers, and keep scanning!
If you don’t already have the ScanLife app, check it out from www.getscanlife.com.
Mobile barcodes could change the way we discover & share information from the world around us. We welcome your thoughts & ideas on how to make this technology matter - today and in the future.