The high street’s struggles with ecommerce and the digital age have been well publicised in the past 12 months as a number of previously dominant brands have gone to the wall.
In our report How The Internet Can Save The High Street we detailed some of the new tactics and strategies that retailers should be trying to take advantage of, such as click-and-collect, mobile search, apps and QR codes.
QR codes are a much-maligned technology - particularly by us – however they can be used in-store to allow customers to access additional product information and reviews.
We’ve previously highlighted a marketing campaign from Toyota that delivered an excellent user experience through a QR code, though admittedly it’s more common for brands to get it horribly wrong.
I recently noticed that bike retailer Evans Cycles uses QR codes in all of its stores, so decided to see whether it delivered helpful information and a decent user experience...
QR display in-store
We previously blogged eight best practice tips for using QR codes in marketing, with the most important factors being placement, size, and a decent call-to-action.
Evans Cycles has QR codes on all of its bikes, situated on the bottom left hand corner of the product information tag. They’re clearly noticeable and very easy to scan, though the instructions are quite small.
Customers who are unaware of QR codes might miss the instructions, so it might be better to have a large ‘Scan here’ call-to-action with further directions in a smaller font.
But on the plus side, Evans Cycles takes the opportunity to ask customers to leave reviews online.
Evans Cycles scores points for linking customers to a mobile optimised site, which seems like an obvious point but is often missed by retailers and advertisers.
Buying a new bike is a fairly major purchase for most people so Evans has to include a lot of product information to maximise its chance of securing a sale.
The product page crams in all the information you could possibly wish for, but the font is very small which makes it quite difficult to read.
As well as product information it’s likely that a good proportion of people scanning the codes will be looking for customer reviews. Research shows that 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision and they can produce an average 18% uplift in sales.
Evans caters to this need by putting a star rating at the top of the page and displaying a prominent link to full reviews. Unfortunately the font is again too small, as are the CTAs asking people to leave their own reviews.
Personally I think the primary reason for scanning one of the QR codes will be to access additional product information and reviews, so it’s probably unlikely that many people will actually make a purchase using their mobile when they’re already in-store.
But nonetheless, the purchase journey on mobile should still be short and simple as there will be some customers looking to buy their bike using the mobile web.
Evans’ mobile site is usable but as mentioned the font and CTAs are a bit too small and fiddly.
Also, there is no guidance as to how big the different bike sizes (e.g. large, medium, small) actually are in the drop down menu.
At the checkout stage new customers are forced to register an account, which is frustrating and may cause some people to drop out, however Evans clearly places great importance on collecting customer information and even asks for email addresses off people buying in-store.
When choosing the delivery options, users can either select to collect their bike in-store or nominate a delivery address.
Both of these options are simple to use and include user shortcuts such as a postcode lookup tool and GPS store locator.
There is a free delivery option that takes three to five days and can arrive any time between 7am and 7pm, or you can pay £29.99 for next day or £34.99 for Saturday delivery.
These delivery costs seem quite steep in my opinion and I would assume that most customers would opt for the free option.
At the final payment stage Evans allows customers to settle up using either credit card or PayPal, which is a useful option to have as some customers are still uneasy entering credit card details online, particularly on mobile.
The main reason for displaying the QR codes is to allow customers to access additional product information and reviews, and to this extent Evans Cycles has only been partially successful.
It scores points by directing users to a mobile site and giving a prominent position to user reviews and extensive product information, however the execution could be improved.
The main problem is that the font is far too small and is difficult to read, though to be fair Evans has to display a great deal of information so the font can’t be too large.
Similarly, the CTAs are small and fiddly which makes navigation slightly tricky.
The rest of the purchase journey suffers from the same basic problems which rather undermines the user experience, however this is probably less important for in-store customers.
Overall then, Evans Cycles should be applauded for its use of mobile and QR codes in-store but I think it could easily make improvements to the mobile landing page and checkout.