Barcode Quality and Black Friday

 In 101

The Black Friday shopping numbers are just starting to come in—was it another down year for consumer holiday spending like last year? These numbers are an insight into consumer confidence and the state of the economic vsc-qrrecovery. The holiday shopping experience is also a referendum on store performance; even in good economic times consumers have a heightened sensitivity to checkout glitches and long memories for those places where they had problems. Barcode quality has a lot to do with the shopping experience.

There may be an inverse relationship between sales volumes and consumer impatience with barcode quality problems: in a recovering economy where the sales volumes may be down, the importance of a seamless scanning experience increases—and this is not just scanning at checkout.

Recently a LinkedIn group on 2D Barcodes has been hosting a discussion about QR Codes.  One voice in the conversation is a person who is promoting his very creative “designer” symbols. A few respondents have observed that some of the customized QR Codes don’t work.  Whether or not actual holiday sales numbers are up this year, I venture to say that more consumers are using price comparison apps this year. In fact I will go out on a limb and say that if actual sales numbers are down, the number of QR Codes scanned by price-comparison shoppers has increased.BCT QR cropped

In either scenario (sales numbers are up, or sales numbers are down) were consumers more likely to scan a customized QR Code over a non-customized one? I sincerely doubt it—leading to the eight hundred pound gorilla question about customizing QR Codes and jeopardizing their performance: what’s the point? Just because you can, should you? Not without a verifier and maybe not at all.

From a retailer’s point of view, the shopper’s experience should be optimized to be as smooth and hassle free as possible while at the same time attracting as many shoppers as possible to the retailer’s establishment. It doesn’t matter whether “the store” is an actual store scanning a package at the front end or the landing page at an e-commerce website encoded in a QR Code.

Whether the holiday season sales are up or down, consumers including myself are more careful shoppers than ever before. My purchases are more researched and less impulsive than in previous years. This means that more of my purchases have involved multiple QR Code scans before an actual physical item ever arrived at an actual store scanner (and many of them didn’t). In at least a couple of cases, when the QR Code didn’t work, I abandoned the product and the brand altogether and looked for something else, somewhere else. Barcode quality–or the lack thereof–killed the sale.

We’d like to hear from you if this has been your experience too—and if you have war stories and images of the bad product barcodes or QR Codes you’ve encountered, we’d love to see those as well.

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