Leading retailer trials QR codes for mobile interaction

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UK consumers shopping at a selected number of Marks & Spenser's (M&S) stores will be able to use their camera phones to scan QR codes on a small range of items. The code will then direct the user to access the Food To Go mobile web site that features a range of content and voucher codes to claim against future purchases.

M&S is one of the first UK retailers to adopt the technology to interact with customers, albeit that QR format has been popular in Japan with cell phone users, resulting in a number of high-profile attempts to repeat its success in Europe.

An M&S spokeswoman said the retailer was looking to engage more with its customers. "We're trialling QR codes as an innovative new way to communicate with our customers. But, at this stage, it's only on our Food To Go freshly squeezed juices."

The ability of handsets to read 2D, or QR, bar codes as links to urls is commonplace with the reader app being downloaded from companies that specialise in this technology. The unresolved question has been what to do with the capability within a retail environment for purchasers carrying a mobile phone.

Attempts to educate consumers to the benefits of scanning QR codes in Europe remain unproven today having seen BBC, Fanta, Ford, Pepsi and Volvo all conduct campaigns using the technology. However, large packaging and printing companies like DuPont and Prinovis have been entering into QR code deals with market leaders like NeoMedia and Scanbuy that could bring the idea to life if the retail community is able to motivate consumers with useful and rewarding mobile downloads.

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