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In digital marketing terms QR codes seem to have been around for ages, yet it’s still much easier to find examples of brands using the technology badly than it is to highlight instances that deliver a decent user experience.
A few months ago I flagged up a Toyota print ad as a good example of how to use QR codes to deliver a fun and engaging mobile experience and I’ve since been on the look out for similar campaigns.
As with all new technologies it is quite easy to dismiss QR codes as a passing fad, particularly as user uptake has been quite slow.
However a survey published today by Nielsen shows that 18% of UK consumers regularly use a QR or barcode scanner, so there may be life in the old dog yet.
Marks & Spencer certainly seems to think so, as it has placed a large QR code in the centre of its Mother’s Day window display in Brixton (you can scan the same code above), and potentially in its other stores around the country.
In a recent post about QR code best practice I stated that marketers need to make sure the code is large enough to be noticed and positioned where users
can easily scan it.
M&S’s window display certainly ticks these boxes as it is displayed prominently at the front of the store, and at a height that is comfortable to scan for your average consumer.
The only slight problem is that it’s not always advisable to get your smartphone out on Brixton High Street, but then that’s hardly M&S’s fault.
Another important element is the call-to-action. Not everyone is aware of the technology and scanning a QR code can still be a bit of a chore, so marketers need to give people instructions and tell them what they stand to benefit.
M&S’s window display has an excellent call-to-action and encourages people to scan the code with the incentive of exclusive offers and the ability to get products delivered to your door.
Some users may be confused by the unique design of the QR code as it isn’t the black and white square that we’re used to seeing, but in my opinion it’s still recognisable and is more attractive than the usual design.
The final piece of the puzzle, and perhaps the most important, is designing an effective, mobile-optimised landing page. Toyota was a great example as it presented you with the start button for a car, which lured you in to find out more.
M&S’s landing page includes links to Mother’s Day product categories, as well as a banner promoting flowers and plants (you can access the landing page by scanning the QR code at the top of this post).
But while M&S passes the first test by directing users to its mobile site rather than a desktop page, the execution isn’t quite perfect as the banner is almost unreadable.
If you squint you can just about read the text, but it’s far too small and is pretty much useless as a CTA.
Also, I’m not a huge fan of the other links, which use white text on a pink background. I suppose the idea is to avoid using any colours that might be confused with Valentine’s Day, but the meek colour scheme means that it loses any visual impact.
That said, I am a fan of M&S’s mobile site and making a purchase is relatively simple, though the checkout process is quite long.
Overall this is a well-executed QR code display, though there are a few problems with the landing page design.
The window display is excellent as it is prominently positioned and should catch people’s attention. Furthermore, it gives instructions to those who may be unaware of QR codes and offers an attractive incentive to get your smartphone out of your pocket.
As mentioned, the landing page is let down by the drab colour scheme and poorly designed banner that is impossible to read, but M&S still scores points for directing users to a mobile site in the first place.
While it remains to be seen whether shoppers actually scan the QR code in large numbers, this is likely to have been a relatively cheap trial for M&S to set up and it has given itself a decent chance of success by delivering a good user experience.