You’ve finally decided to start a virtual store with QR Codes! But where do you begin and how do you make sure your virtual store suits the needs of your customers? Providing your target audience with a QR Code virtual store can boost your sales throughout all channels. By bringing your store to the customer, you can create ultimate shopping convenience. This article describes how to create succesful cross-channel mobile shops with QR Codes and how to avoid common pitfalls.

Why set up a QR Code virtual store?

The retail world is constantly changing; customers buy whenever and however they want. As the online market is becoming more and more saturated, online-only shops struggle to stay visible in the ocean of competitors. Physical shops on the other hand are looking for ways to cut costs without losing their position.

Mobile commerce risesWith the rise of mobile commerce, now contributing to about 15% to 20% of total online sales, a combination of online and offline channels is inevitable and that’s where QR Code stores come in. When inspired, customers can order the product by simply scanning the QR Code and ordering in 3 ‘taps’.

Starting a QR Code Virtual Store can be done in 5 simple, but important steps:

1) Choose the right place for your QR Code store

Location, location, location. With Virtual Stores you need to be where your target customers are, be it in a public high-traffic location or in a print medium, like a magazine, newspaper or door-to-door flyers. The placement of your QR Code store must meet a number of requirements

Your target audience is there

One of the most important things you’ll have to make sure is that you target to your customers. If you sell college books, you’ll probably want to look into publishing your shop on campus or in a students magazine. If you’re selling sporting goods, try sports clubs. If you’re selling household appliances, perhaps a door-to-door magazine would be a good option.

Bookshop on campusAs a virtual store can be published almost anywhere, creative solutions will almost always catch the eye. What about a huge book in the middle of a school yard, sports clothing posters in changing rooms and a cut-out of a beautiful mug with a QR Code on it? Set your imagination free!

Inspiration and mind-set of your customers

Perhaps the most important factor for the success of your QR Code Virtual Store is the way people experience your store. By being inspired by your wonderful shop design, your customers have to start smiling and get the feeling that they need the product, and they must have it now!

The second part of this inspirational process is the realization that they can have it now. The only thing left to do is scan the QR Code and tap on the screen to complete the order process. This ‘inspirational practicality’ can occur when people are in a waiting-mode, during routine activities or when they are relaxed and ready to buy.

These modes are common at home, when people are reading their magazines and commercial folders, looking for interesting offers. These modes also occur when people are in ‘shared solitude’ while traveling to/from work and are using their mobile phones as time-killers.

People have time and feasibility

Although busy train stations are always noted as a good example to publish a QR Code store, it really depends on the context. If a train leaves every 2 minutes and it’s only a transit station, your chances are probably low to get a good result. People need to have time to be inspired, get their phones out, and order. These moments are plenty in bus stops or train/plane waiting rooms.

Then there’s feasibility. Have you ever tried scanning a billboard QR Code from a moving car? Or scanning a QR Code from a poster in a disco? Undoable! Your customer needs to have the possibility to actually point their phone or tablet at the product, scan it and complete the purchase. Make it easy!

There is access to (mobile) internet

A big part of QR Code scanning is having access to (mobile) internet. Some areas are known for bad signal (underground stations, certain libraries and cinemas). Others are known for great signal (anywhere there’s wifi, business parks and other central locations). Having a customer become frustrated because of lack of internet is not a good start!

The home environment, where a customer is always wifi-enabled, is perfect. Thus catalogs, door-to-door print media and brochures can be a great means to present a customer with your best products and best offers. Public places, like Starbucks, colleges, universities, city centres and airports are a great ‘virtual store location‘ when they have wifi enabled!

2) Select the right products

As with a physical or online shop, different products are presented differently. For example pallets are more suitable for products on sale, while customers are more likely to buy their sound system when the store has an advanced sound studio. So how do you select the right products for your QR Code store?

People *want* or *need* the product (impulse purchase)

When people see your product in a public place or in a flyer at home, they need a trigger to grab their phone and make the purchase. This trigger can be the fact that they:

  • want the product (e.g. innovative gadget)
  • need the product (e.g. common groceries)

Once the product in your store has caught the attention, the customer can make the impulse decision to purchase the product. These decisions have proven to be made just before a purchase and mainly on the emotional level, which means that the way the product is presented has to be consistent with the product itself (e.g. groceries on a shelf, innovative gadget working).

Foreshore beach QR Code store

Type of product (comparing, custom)

A recent QR Code store study in Sweden by Jetstore looked at different product types, prices and presentation of products. Results show that there was a clear distinction in popularity of products, some were considered to be much more suitable to sell through the QR Code store medium.

QR Code shops bring the products to the customer and present them with a clear view of a limited number of products. Unless your product QR Codes reside in a catalog, the customer won’t have the time to compare the prices and product specifications. It is therefor advised to publish products and their QR Codes that don’t require comparison and can be bought with little thought.

Looking at the results of the Jetstore study and best practices, a distinction in more and less suitable products can be made:

Well suitable Less suitable
  • Clothes and apparel
  • Books, DVD’s, audiovisual
  • Unique gadgets
  • Groceries, food
  • Cosmetics, perfumes
  • Advanced electronic products
  • Non-standard contact lenses
  • Custom-made products
  • Furniture, beds, kitchens
  • Expensive products (> € 150)

The price is right

One of the biggest triggers for consumers to stop and approach your virtual store is because they are offered something great in a unique (discount) opportunity. The only rule is; they have to scan it right here, right now!

The Jetstore study complements this sales offering observation by stating that the maximum price consumers are willing to pay is roughly € 150 (~ 200 USD). If the price is higher, it’s difficult to get into the impulse zone and thus decide to buy right here, right now.

3) Set up a mobile shop

One of the biggest #fails in QR Code land is directing the scanning person to a non-mobile site. Not only is browsing a desktop-site on a mobile device nearly impossible; the much longer loading time and non-touch navigation makes a deadly combination. Directing a potential QR Code buyer to a mobile shop is an absolute must!

Integrated webshop solution

If you already have a webshop solution, there are numerous ways to create a mobile shop that is fully integrated and branded with your current system. With a smart link between the mobile and desktop systems, you can manage all products and sales from one system and linked to your own payment gateway/payment service provider.

Mobile webshop integrated solutionThe role of the QR Code is to direct the customer to the mobile product page in your webshop with the correct tags, so you can track exactly where the scans are coming from and how people reached you. Linking your Google Analytics eCommerce package to the QR Code management solution then gives you a detailed view of QR Code sales.

Instant mobile shop

There are several web services that can easily generate a great mobile webshop within 5 minutes, based on the product feed from your existing webshop. This is called the instant mobile webshop. An instant mobile shop solution is not expensive and can be fully branded to your company.

The instant mobile shop is perfect for event-based QR Code stores, but can also be used as a permanent solution to reach the mobile market. Bear in mind that having a mobile shop is not as time consuming as having a regular webshop, because you don’t need to worry about Search Engine Marketing (SEO/SEA) and touch navigation is standardized.

Responsive mobile design

A responsive mobile shop, such as the Shop2Mobi Instant Mobile shop, recognizes the device and resolution and shows the customer the perfect layout for their device. When using an iPad, you can see the 3-column version of your site with a slider, while your iPhone will show a cut-down version with only one column.

Responsive design explainedResponsive design is also focused on supplying the mobile shopper with a very quick site and is touch-enabled, which gives the ultimately convenient experience when browsing and purchasing products.

Mobile payment

Nearly all banks and payment service providers have adopted paying mobile, albeit NFC, PayPal, credit card, iDeal or payment afterwards. If you are unsure if your payment gateway offers this option, please contact them.

Being able to pay with the mobile phone is essential to offer to your scanning customers. After scanning the QR Code, the process of finalizing the order and paying must take less than 3 minutes and should be done within a maximum of 3 steps.

4) Customize QR Code store design

Whether your company is first in your area or if you are joining the QR Code Virtual Store world, one thing is certain; you need to stand out! Your QR Code store needs to reflect the character and branding of your physical or online shop. Design of your QR Code store has to be clear and attractive.

Product presentation

Just like with a physical or online shop, you can only sell the products if they are well presented, clearly visible and up for grabs. How many products? That all depends on how it will look in your design. For a 10×2 meter wall 100 grocery products is not much, while in an A5 door-to-door flyer, you’ll probably fit a maximum of 8 products with QR Codes.

Remember to show the distinctive type of product, its name and the (discount) price. It is strongly advised to show your company identity in the way your QR Code store is designed. If you sell beachwear, try a beach background! Test every QR Code before sending the final design to the print company or publishing the QR Code store.

QR Code visibility and readability

Although it’s quite obvious, this step is often forgotten. QR Codes have a built-in error correction, which allows them to be read in less-than-perfect circumstances, however several thoughts must be taken into account to guarantee good readability:

  • The QR Code must be big enough for the distance. A simple formula: QR Code size = Distance / 10
  • Always use vector format QR Codes (EPS, SVG, AI) to use in print or web publishing
  • Ensure low data density. Don’t encode more than 30 characters in a URL
  • Use contrasting colors, don’t try negatives. Black on white ensures best readability
  • When showing dynamic content, the QR Code must be visible for at least 10 seconds at a time

Explanation and how to buy with QR Code

The use of QR Codes is upcoming, which means not everyone knows what to do with them. Your QR Code store needs to contain a brief and understandable explanation on how to purchase using QR Codes and what app people need to have to read the QR Codes in the first place.

Tesco how to buy in QR Code store explanationEnhance the explanation with some clarifying images and show the simple steps people need to go through to acquire the products. Place the explanation in a visible place and give it some room, don’t be afraid to miss out on that space; the explanation will work miracles for your conversion!

Incentives to scan and buy

Why would people buy the products right here and right now? Yes, the products are great and the price has to be good, but what will be that spark that ignites people to grab their phone and scan? There are some incentives that can certainly help and move people to act on their impulse:

  • Unique QR Code store discount
  • Temporary and limited offer
  • Fast and certain delivery
  • Limited stock and exclusivity
  • Ultimate convenience

The Tesco example leans on convenience and delivery, while Peapod in Philadelphia focused on discount. Walmart en Procter & Gamble emphasized the temporary and exclusive convenience. When using dynamic screens, you can also visualize certain aspects real time. Think about a timer or number of units remaining in stock!

Template design and branding

The content of your QR Code store is clear, the explanation is done and now it comes down to design and branding. You want your QR Code store to stand out and reflect the branding of your store, so customer can recognize it and feel secure in scanning and buying your products.

To stand out, a creative approach is very much advised. Think of selling summer wear in a beach setting, umbrella’s in a rainy landscape or electronics in a high-tech feel poster. If you are having a one-time-only sale with big discounts, try a cheap look with red stickers. The type of design must fit what you’re promoting, thus creating cognitive consonance for your customers.

Shop2Mobi beautifully designed templatesShop2Mobi offers a number of beautifully designed templates that you can use and customize to fit your branding (add logo, colours and background). The designs are already print proof, with a resolution of 300dpi and all the right sizes.

5) Generate, publish, evaluate (Shop2Mobi)

It’s time to finish up. In this final step, you need to check if all aspects of your campaign are ready to be published, choose how you’re going to track the results, publish the campaign and evaluate the way people are scanning and buying your products.

Generate trackable QR Codes

Now that you’ve added your products and created the design, you need to check if the QR Codes that Shop2Mobi has generated are working properly, leading to the right product and can be scanned with the size you intended. Also check if the campaign name was filled in properly, so you know that your QR Codes are tracked.

If you notice that some QR Codes contain a mistake, you can redirect them (even after publishing). With Shop2Mobi you don’t have to worry that you end up with ‘dead’ URL’s, because we use dynamic QR Codes. Scan a couple of codes and then look them up in your statistics service (such as Google Analytics).

Define useful segments

If you plan to show your QR Code store in different instances, such as separate subway stations, distribution of door-to-door flyers in different postal code areas or in different store locations, it’s strongly advised to segment your campaign to track scans and sales from specific segments.

Define useful segments, such as storesBesides having a precise view on the origin of scans and sales, segments help to prevent channel conflict. In case of stores, you know exactly where, when and what QR Code was scanned and what purchase was made. You can simply define segments by adding them to Shop2Mobi in the “Segments” field.

Link Google Analytics

All QR Codes in Shop2Mobi automatically send Google Analytics tags to your system. Additionally linking your Google Analytics account to Shop2Mobi brings visualization to scans and sales on a geomap. That means you can see scans and sales real time on a map!

Simply click the “Link Analytics” button in the backoffice to link your Shop2Mobi and Google Analytics accounts.

Generate QR Code store

Now you’ve chosen and sorted your products, selected the size, defined segments, linked your Google Analytics and branded your store, it’s time to finally generate the PDF and/or export the QR Codes! Check the summary one last time and go ahead… press the Publish button!

Depending on your choice, you QR Codes will be exported in SVG, EPS, PNG and JPG format, ready to be integrated in your marketing OR a print-ready high-resolution PDF will be generated with your storefront. If you have defined segments, every segment will receive its own QR Codes and PDF’s, to differentiate.

Test the whole process

Now your QR Code store is ready to be published, all that remains is a thorough check before forwarding your Virtual Store to a printing company or publishing it on a dynamic screen. To check whether your store is ready to publish, we’ve created a 10-step checklist:
Scan QR Code, check URL, purchase

  1. Scan all the QR Codes in at least two QR Code readers
  2. Do the QR Codes lead to the correct products?
  3. Are the QR Code big enough to scan?
  4. Is the URL mobile device proof?
  5. Complete the purchase process in your mobile store
  6. Try all the payment methods
  7. Do all product images match the descriptions?
  8. Are there awkward product image transparencies?
  9. Are all the prices displayed correctly?
  10. Check all the texts on grammar and spelling

Publish your QR Code store

Publish your QR Code store by sending the PDF to the printing company, printing the posters yourself or integrating the QR Code store in your adverts and dynamic displays. This is where the store finally gets out of your hands and your job in creating has been finished!

Add geotags to your segments

While your shop is being printed or incorporated in your marketing, you have some time to prepare the evaluation process. If you’ve defined different segments, you can now assign geographic locations to each of your segments. If you don’t have segments, you can assign one location to your whole campaign.

Adding geotags gives you a map for QR CodesGo to the “Statistics” page in Shop2Mobi and click the green Plusje-button next to the campaign or segment. You can now choose the location where this specific segment or campaign has been published. This can be a postal area or simply every store where the QR Code store campaign was published.

Sit down, relax and evaluate!

We now advise you to take a drink, open up the statistics page on Shop2Mobi and lean back and relax! This is where the really fun part begins with people scanning your QR Codes and buying your products! Don’t hesitate to celebrate the moments of your first, 100th and 10.000th customer. This is your reward for innovative retailing and showing the world what the future of commerce is all about. Well done you!

What is Shop2Mobi?

Shop2Mobi is your total QR Code Virtual Store solution. You can create your virtual store, including an instant mobile shop, within 5 minutes! To learn more, check out our features. If you’re interested in becoming a reseller, check out our reseller-page.

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