Mobile barcodes are spreading across our advertising every day, providing potential customers with quick links to product pages, buying channels, and enhanced promotional content.  But what’s happening outside the world of advertising?  Mobile barcodes are really a platform that provides hyperlinking capability to the real world.  Hyperlinking is what made the web take off; that is, being able to instantly link to sources, additional content, and funny pictures of cats with words on them. Imagine what mobile barcodes can do in real world applications.

Let’s take a look at three applications for the mobile barcode platform that can add some power to your products and services.

1. Loyalty Cards

In my most recent pilgrimage to IKEA (with a rented truck, because there is a law somewhere that I cannot leave IKEA without dropping $1000 or more), I brought along an email I had received touting their new loyalty program with special in-store offers and food court discounts.  A new kiosk at the entrance to the store invited me to pop the mobile barcode contained in the email under a scanner. I was instantly identified, and the kiosk produced an IKEA Family card especially for me.

I was suddenly reminiscing about all my battles with magnetic cards.  My American Express has to be replaced once a year from overuse, and the attempts to use the plastic bag trick seem to always be in vain.  If we’re not working with secure information like credit or debit accounts – why do we need the security of the magnetic stripe?  A mobile barcode is much more practical and less sensitive to wear and tear.

Lots of stores have used regular barcodes on loyalty cards for a while, but moving to mobile barcodes gives an extra dimension of flexibility.  2D/Mobile barcodes allow much more data to be represented than these normal barcodes, so you don’t necessarily need a link back into all your store systems to tie that identifier to the right records.  Smaller businesses can also get a loyalty system started without even needing to print cards thanks to PunchD – an app that allows stores to create a 2D barcode that will be scanned whenever you visit, eliminating those ‘buy 10 lunches get 1 free’ cards that populate my wallet.

2. Replacements

A friend was recently telling me about his bathroom remodeling project and mentioned that he had found a mobile barcode on the inside of his new toilet tank lid.  In an instant I realized why, as I’d recently been in a situation where finding replacement parts was an enormous pain.

That mobile barcode could link a consumer right into an online store for replacement parts with the scanned item already in the cart.  When the bulb in my projection TV went out, I spent an hour on hold with the manufacturer, then even longer before they would let me buy the replacement part.  While a mobile barcode won’t help with stockouts, I could have saved a lot of time on the phone, and I might even consider that manufacturer for my next electronics purchase!

This application doesn’t have to be used only for replacement parts. For services that you wouldn’t necessarily schedule, such as a repair call for your washing machine, hand out refrigerator magnets with the name of the service and the mobile barcode.  When I need it, I can scan the code and go to an online scheduling app showing real-time availability to set up my appointment.  Make the mobile barcode the first step into a much better experience for your customers.

3. Lagniappe

Lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) is a word that was bandied about the halls of AT&T, meaning ‘a little something extra.’  The idea is that you always want to provide a little something unexpected or above and beyond to keep your customers coming back.  Where most mobile barcodes are used today to sell – why not use them to provide a little lagniappe to those who have purchased from you?

For example, pasta, cereal, and cake mix boxes could hold mobile barcodes linking to new recipes. A frozen yogurt cup might have a mobile barcode hidden at the bottom that could send you a 10% off next purchase coupon.  A case of motor oil could have a mobile barcode that sends a video of extra maintenance items to help keep your car running smoothly. A new pair of shoes might include  a code on the box that directs you to a website where you can pick out a new color-coordinated outfit.  The possibilities are limitless – think of all the things your customers will discover that they never even knew they wanted.

What are some interesting ways your business is using mobile barcodes?  Do any of these ideas inspire you to make a change with your business?  Leave a comment below!

This post originally appeared on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog.

About the Author(s)

David Egger

David has worked in several areas at AT&T: sales, education, and now marketing. As a forward-thinking, self-described nerd, David has a keen awareness of emerging technologies and mobile applications.  He is a regular blogger on AT&T’s Networking Exchange blog.

Lead Marketing Manager, IRU Mobility Programs, AT&T
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