The hit film The Social Network (2010) features a pivotal scene between Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and co-creator Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield). Eduardo, the more business-minded of the duo, pressures Mark to capitalize off the newly created Facebook. Zuckerberg, more angst-filled than usual (which says a lot) pushes back against Eduardo, saying “we don’t even know what [the Facebook phenomenon] is yet.”
The same can be said of many of the new devices in the current technology-saturated marketing environment: we don’t know what they are yet. Zuckerberg’s comment alludes to this point. We don’t know how to use new technologies will deliver value to the customer – yet. Aggressive commercialization of these new technologies strips away their potential gains. As writer Jeff Korhan notes, new technologies are “just tools, and how you use the tool determines the value derived from it.”
QR (and other 2D) codes are scan-able square patches placed on widely visible surfaces. A passerby scans the code with his or her smartphone and is immediately taken to a webpage. The key strength of QR codes is that they encourage action and they can be tracked in real-time. Scanners can join e-mail lists, submit contact information or opt-in to other marketing trackers. One of the weaknesses of QR codes is the fallout from mishandling them – making a QR code the web 2.0 equivalent of spam.
The best way to use QR codes is to design them with the customer experience in mind. Tesco Korea is a world-class example of designing the QR code as a thoughtfully orchestrated experience for the customer. Developers wanted to make Tesco the leading retail chain in South Korea. The trick? They wanted to do this without building new stores.
Working with developers, Tesco staff wanted to help their customers (and potential customers) come to the store without having to sacrifice their time. The developers created a visual storefront at crowded subway stations where customers could scan their food items and have them home-delivered. Tesco’s use of QR codes reveals how powerful technology can be when it is deployed as part of a customer experience program.