Have you noticed those funny looking square blocks of black and white on some products, magazines, and in store windows? Those are QR codes, and they’re all the rage in Japan and other parts of the world. Gradually, they’re gaining acceptance in the U.S. as well. As they start to pop up all around us, it’s time to see how a small business owner can use them in their brick and mortar location.

This article is designed to explain a few of the ways to effectively use QR codes in a retail store window.

Create a destination for your QR code
A QR code can contain many different types of data. It can hold a simple text message, telephone number, email address, Google Maps location, wi-fi login details, a buy button for a product, even a photo or video.

Many businesses are simply using QR codes to send people to their websites or Facebook pages. This is good idea, but there are mistakes you want to avoid. First, don’t send the user to your standard website homepage if you don’t have a mobile version of your site. Remember, the people reading your QR codes are doing so on a mobile device: an iPhone, a Blackberry, an Android phone or other smart phone. They will not be able to browse your website comfortably on those small devices. Make sure you create a mobile-friendly version of your website or create a unique landing page on your website that’s formatted for the express purpose of the QR code.

You may have a page on your website that contains a low-res image of your logo and your email newsletter signup form, which would be easily displayed on a mobile device. Or you could have a mobile version of your site that’s stripped down, showing only key sections, such as your product categories, contact information, and specials.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re sending your QR code visitors to a unique place that engages them on their mobile device. Don’t make them squint and scroll through a web page that they can’t navigate or read well on their smart phone.

One of the best uses of QR codes is to use it to provide content that’s only available via the code. You may offer the visitor a chance to enter a drawing for a product you’re displaying in your window, or you may invite them to a special event taking place in your store. Or maybe you create a unique short video clip that excites them enough to step in from the sidewalk and into your store. Most people who have QR readers on their mobile devices are tech savvy and want to be engaged this way.

Create the Code and display it
There are several free resources for creating QR codes. One of them is QRStuff.com, which enables you to create the QR code online and then print it out either on paper or as stickers. You can also print your code onto business cards, coffee mugs, even tee-shirts! But for this tutorial we want a decal or sticker to display in your window. So, however you create your code, get it on a sticker so you can get it into your window.

Note: each QR code is unique and can only be used for the content you’ve attached to it.  A new QR code has to be created for every new URL or piece of content you want to promote.

Encourage customers to use the QR code
Once you have your QR code displayed in your window, make sure your staff knows about it and encourages your visitors to use it. Some people will not see it or understand what it means. Take the time to help newbies understand the codes and better yet, explain to them that they’re missing out on exclusive content only available via your QR code.

Track effectiveness of your QR code campaign
There are services that will allow you to create your QR code and also track the number of reads they get. Or you can use Google Analytics to track the unique landing page you’re sending the visitor to via the QR code. Either way, it’s critical to measure the effectiveness of your QR code campaign, so you can see what’s working and what isn’t

Adjust your QR code content and campaigns
Don’t set it and forget it! Having a QR code that allows the visitor to Like you on Facebook is a good idea and you should keep that in your window all the time, but you’ll also want to adjust and add new QR code stickers to your window. A QR code can contain an event, which users can add to their calendar via their smart phone. If you’re a coffee shop and you have entertainment every Friday night at 8PM, create a QR code for it and display it.

These are just some of the ways QR codes can be used in your retail store window. To find out how Boone Digital can help you get started with QR codes, contact us.



Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a digital marketer and author. He built his first website in 1993 and has written three books. Dan is the founder of Boone Digital and Good Content, an organization dedicated to ethical digital marketing practices and education.