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John Lewis has joined the growing list of retailers trialling QR codes with the launch of a virtual shop in Brighton.

All of the retailer's ‘top 30 things to buy for Christmas’ are included in a window display at a branch of Waitrose. 

Customers can scan the QR code of the item they want, which will then take them to the John Lewis mobile site to complete their purchase. 

There will be 96 products on offer until the end of December, including Amazon's Kindle e-reader. 

John Lewis is using the launch to promote its 'click and collect service' which it is currently trialling in 94 Waitrose stores.

After ordering online, customers can pick the item up after 2pm the following day from any John Lewis or participating Waitrose store, if the order is place before 7pm the previous day.

John Lewis’ virtual shop is just the latest example of a retailer using QR codes. Last week we reported on eBay’s plans to open a pop-up shop based around instant purchasing via mobile. 

The most famous, and possibly most successful, example was Tesco Korea's virtual supermarket shelf in a subway in Korea, which resulted in a 130% increase in online sales.

But the jury is still out on their effectiveness. A recent Econsultancy survey conducted online using TolunaQuick found that only 31% of UK consumers knew what QR codes were or what they are for, and just 19% had scanned one on their mobiles.

What the survey doesn’t tell us is how may people have scanned one more than once after the initial novelty value has gone. 

While the Tesco example shows the potential for using QR codes to drive sales, that did take place in South Korea where there is greater awareness of QR codes, and where many phones have them preinstalled. It will be interesting to see whether this success can be replicated here in the UK.

Though QR codes have their drawbacks, they are cost-effective, and John Lewis already has a mobile optimised site to send users to. 

David Moth

Published 25 November, 2011 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1680 more posts from this author

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Briony

Reminds me of the QR store in the Underground in South Korea earlier this year - http://youtu.be/fGaVFRzTTP4
I'm excited about QR code use becoming more widespread in the UK!

almost 5 years ago

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Sarah

This is brilliant - I keep hearing of new QR code initiaives and am so impressed to see the larger retailers using them in such innovative ways.

I found it hard in the beginning to use these within smaller brands marketing campaigns because of the uptake of the APP still being fairly small (nobody knew what to do with it!)

This kind of investment by John Lewis will raise consumer awareness and allow some of the smaller fish to start getting creative!

almost 5 years ago

Andy Kinsey

Andy Kinsey, Web Designer, Graphic Designer & SEO at Andy Kinsey Designs

@Briony I was just about to say that!

It will be interesting to see if they roll it out again next year, only then we will we know if they a) covered costs and b) made a profit.

This said on the other hand it maybe just the poke needed by some companies to make this kind of move... another interesting note is they have gone for QR codes and not Microsoft Tag ... will this become more common (i am hopeful) and wipe out microsoft's little platform thats only 2 good points are redirection and repointing of the tag link and having your logo in the background ...

(microsoft themselves don't believe in that else it would be as standard with their mobile os and it isn't)

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Andy John Lewis already has a mobile site to send people to, so it boils down to the cost of a few window displays.

almost 5 years ago

Conrad Morris

Conrad Morris, Director at Match Me Now Limited

This is interesting and exciting for advocates of QR codes. Awareness has to be one of the major issues, and the publicity generated by eBay and John Lewis will make a big difference to consumer awareness and encourage others to follow suit.

almost 5 years ago

Sarah Alder

Sarah Alder, Managing Director at Cranmore Digital Consulting Ltd

It is great to see traditional British retailers making such good use of digital media. It doesn't surprise me that John Lewis are doing that though. Digital media is all about opportunities for better engagement, and that is something John Lewis has always taken seriously.

almost 5 years ago

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Nathan Shilton

I do think this is a bit pointless as it surely just links you to the product page on the website, which you can do quite easily without the need to scan a QR code.

almost 5 years ago

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Web Design Shropshire

I'm not sure what to make of QR codes. I think they are useful in print media where you can link to on-line content but I'm struggling to see the point of this store to be honest?

Can you physically see the products before scanning the QR code? What incentive is there to actually visit this store rather than order on-line without the travelling expense?

I accept that I may be missing the point but I'm scratching my head a little.

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Nathan You have a point, and I think showing a URL alongside the QR code would be one way to appeal to those consumers who wouldn't scan a code.

The idea behind QR is that it speeds up this process, but in the time it takes to fire up your QR reader and scan the code, you could probably enter the URL, or search for the item on the John Lewis site.

almost 5 years ago

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David Bell, Ecommerce & Commercial Manager at Advent Data Group

Got to say I agree with Wed Design Shropshire. Is this just using QR codes for the sake of it?
I'm not sure what benefit it brings?

Wouldn't you have to go to the Waitrose store to scan the code and buy it and then once you've paid and arranged delivery, return to the store again to collect it?

I think I'd probably just cut out the travelling/scanning/travelling and order it online and have it delivered to home or the office :-)

almost 5 years ago

David Sealey

David Sealey, Head of Digital Consulting at CACIEnterprise

I like the idea of this. A company needs to make their own QR app ubiquitous so that the app gives the shopper a rich scanning, reading and buying experience. With one click ordering it could be extremely powerful.

It could be a great way of filling the shops of our deserted high streets.

David Sealey

almost 5 years ago

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David Hodgkinson

I don't see why QR codes couldn't be used at POS eg at supermarket selfserve points to support payment via paypal or similar

over 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@David, the supermarket would need to get wifi as 3G access can be quite poor in some shops. Also, don't you have to top up PayPal using your credit card? In which case it would surely be easier just to pay with your credit card.

Plus, if you've queued up to get to the POS why would you then scan a code to be directed to a different POS?

If anything NFC payments are more likely to become the standardised form of payment in the near future, not QR codes.

over 4 years ago

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Askew

How big of a problem is an exposed hammer on a small
revolver for conceal carry?

about 4 years ago

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