Google Supplies QR Codes to Local Businesses: Future Request Fulfilled, Sans the SocialBy Kim Gaskins December 9, 2009
Google Goes “Real World” with QR Codes for Local Business Storefronts
“How about placing QR codes on the doors of business establishments to make the upload of [shareable] information easier?”
As one (of five) generative recommendations for Smartphones [Context-Aware] in our Opportunity Space post a couple weeks back, we made a “future request,” and are pleased to see someone stepping up to the plate (Google, big surprise)–and interested to see how the initiative pans out in practice from a user standpoint.
Latitude‘s vision was more social and two-way (“a Yelp/Brightkite mash-up” with the added convenience of QR codes at local establishments) than Google has currently adopted–but we assume something like this can’t be far behind, from Google or other.
What if every store had a bar-code sticker on its window so that you could pull out your iPhone, wave it in front of the bar code and get all sorts of information about that business—the telephone number, photos, customer reviews? Starting on Monday, you’ll be able to do that at up to 190,000 local businesses throughout the U.S.
Google has mailed out window stickers with two-dimensional bar codes (aka, QR codes) to the most-searched for or clicked-on businesses in its local business directory. Anyone with a QR code reader in their phone can scan it to call up a Google Mobile local directory page for one of these “Favorite Places,” which generally includes a map, phone number, directions, address, reviews, and a link to the store’s website. (It’s a mobile version of Google Places).
Erick Schonfeld for TechCrunch, “See That Funny 2D Barcode In The Store Window? It Might Pull Up A Google Listing.”
Businesses can also set up mobile coupon offers through their Google directory page to make their Web and offline presences work in tandem–for example, storefronts might display, “Free coffee with food purchase if you find us on Google (promotions updated weekly).”
“It’s like staring at Big Ben and asking for the time.”
But it seems this is where some social/shareable features could particularly add value for local businesses. The current model simply has me going to the listing for a business I’m currently standing in front of–seemingly, the main goal–to fetch a promotional offer. “It’s like staring at Big Ben and asking for the time,” wrote one TechCrunch commenter.
I suppose the model might convert look-ups of business listings (if I just happen to be looking up a particular business anyway, and stumble upon a promotional offer) into physical visits, if customers knew they could receive a mobile coupon for scanning the on-site QR code. But the QR code serves no novel utility in this scenario in light of existing technologies.
Some Community Discussion Around the Topic…
(from commenters on TechCrunch’s post)
“… if they incorporate a Foursquare model and get everyone to play a little game for prize pool. Add barcode picture to compare pricing in stores and there is no end to this Giant Enterprise.” – Dave Hanna
“I played with this in Korea in early 2004. I was able to scan an ad on the side of a bus, walk into their version of Best Buy, and have them scan a 20% off coupon off my phone screen. 2D barcodes will be huge for local advertising.” – John Ellis
“Any business can do it for itself, but for them it’s just extra work with no real benefit if the customer is already in front of the shop. They want him to enter the shop and not to play with the phone in front of it. The QR code itself is not very useful without the mobile friendly website. It can be also used for collecting telephone numbers and email addresses of customers to send them more info later.” – Tomas Zeman
“Well, imagine you scan, you go in and buy with the 20% coupon you just scanned. Two weeks later you want to buy another, now the restaurant menu, phone and address with another coupon is saved on your phone. As a store owner, that is some great marketing.” – Ed
“Microsoft Tag is better. MS Tag looks nicer, is more flexible, has nice simple reposting features, and is certainly not limited to Bing search results.” – Tim Acheson
Redux: Latitude’s Initial Suggestion
(Click here to read all 5 Smartphone [Context-Aware] “Future Requests”)
“We like the idea of a personal city guide–a Yelp / Brightkite mash-up, with a little of the embedded world thrown in. How about checking into a restaurant (or other business establishment), and assigning it a simple rating (maybe 1-5 stars) based on your experience there.
Then you could receive other recommendations–even in advance–relevant to both your preferences and the areas you frequent as determined by patterns in your past check-ins. When traveling in a foreign country, you could receive recommendations for this novel environment based upon your personal history.
We also like the idea of placing QR codes, readable by mobile devices, on the doors of business establishments to make the upload of information easier.”