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   October, 2011

Macy’s QR Program: Potential Game Changer, Misses the Mark

For the record, the staff here at Revolution Messaging is pretty split on the effectiveness of QR codes. Some think they are a waste of time; others, like me, think they can be pretty effective (but I’ve yet to see one that really works well). So I was very excited to see ads on TV that Macy’s is rolling out a mobile program that features their QR code. Not only is Macy’s advertising their mobile program on TV, but they have their big name celebrities behind it too.

So this weekend, I visited the Macy’s in Downtown Washington, DC to check out their program.

In the TV ads, the QR code is shown on a big display at the front of the store. In reality, the first QR code was in the vestibule and I missed it when I walked in. I eventually saw it on my way out of the store.

In my search for a QR code, I saw a seven-foot tall, three tiered poster near the exit. One concern I mentioned prior to arriving at Macy’s, was that in many thick-walled malls, cell phone reception can get spotty, so a program that depends on cell service comes with risks that users simply won’t be able to access their phones.

This display was near a glass door, so cell service was probably not an issue.

The Display

So this vertical display has room for three posters.  The top one had a QR code, the middle poster did not but the one on the floor did. That seemed to confuse me since my friend who was 5’4” had to reach up to access the top code and crane her neck to read the instructions. Simply putting the code in the middle of the display would allow a shopper of average height or those in wheelchairs the ability to scan the code and read the directions easier. The code on the floor makes no sense since no on is going to bend over to scan it.

The Language

Not all phones have a QR reader. To allow shoppers to access the QR code fun, Macy’s provides shoppers with the ability to text in for more information. The problem is no one proofread the language.

The language in bold was bolded on the signage:

See what it’s all about on your smart phone.

Scan this code or text thanx to 62297 (MACYS).

Download a QR code scanner (if you haven’t already) by texting reader to 62297.

Message and data rates may apply.

Macy’s is providing instructions to people who aren’t comfortable with QR codes and SMS programs. Make it simpler – don’t use the word thanx, use the uppercase THANKS  or another short, simple word. Chances are auto correct is going to change thanx to thanks anyway.

Also, be consistent. Why is thanx bold, but reader isn’t? Capitalize and bold that too. I had to read it twice to figure out that the word reader was the keyword for this program.

Please make the program simple.

So now the good: After I found the QR code and scanned it, it worked. My phone asked my permission to go to Macy’s mobile page and a video started playing on my BlackBerry. Let me repeat, a video played on my BlackBerry! Video rarely works on my phone, so I was thrilled to see it work.

Back to the bad: I was also kind of embarrassed to walk around the store with my BlackBerry blaring a commercial so I stayed by the door and watched a few more seconds of the video. This is probably not great for foot traffic. Also, I got bored quickly and stopped watching.

Some advice: Use the code to highlight some of the new goods in the store; have Martha Stewart or Diddy or an actor hired to play a sales associate tell me what’s new this week and prompt me to ask an employee where I can find it. See if sales on the item increase. After all, that’s your intention, to sell more product. If you see an increase in revenue, you’ve got yourself a successful program!

Macy’s, you deserve credit for running this program. As a fan of mobile programs and QR codes, I think what you’re doing is great. You just need to tweak the program slightly and you could have a winner.

By Staffer Jason Rosenberg