Home Depot, Macy's, Target Evaluating QR Codes That Show Different Things Based On The Consumer's CRM

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A QR code approach that will display different information—and initiate different actions—based on the purchase history of the person scanning it is being evaluated by Home Depot, Target and Macy's, according to the CEO of the QR vendor that is trying to sell that system. This next-generation QR code tactic leverages tracking codes from the mobile phones to establish a customer history and thereby permit highly customized responses.

"At the scan, we get a certain amount of metadata as a result of the scan itself—operating system, carrier, cell tower being used, etc. We get all of that," said Scanbuy CEO Mike Wehrs. "We know what that app has scanned in the past." Indeed, Wehrs argues, the app can secure data from the QR code plus the phone plus online data accessed from a retailer's loyalty card database.

"If the app integrates with their CRM files, it can give a completely customized experience," he said. Wehrs would not characterize the level of interest from those three chains and neither would representatives from those chains.

The concept of this level of customization, though, has fascinating possibilities. It is similar to the type of personalized Web pages made possible by cookies, but replacing the cookie with a phone could be far more accurate and complete. Cookies can often be blocked—sometimes without a customer's knowledge, due to some new application—and a customer using a different Web browser can also confuse the system. When a Web consumer moves from a work machine to a mobile device to a home machine, those actions also confuse or block cookie-based customization efforts.

A mobile-based approach is likely to survive all of those issues. As the phone is carried with the person from home to work to recreational activities—and it's rare for one person to actively be using more than one phone at one time—it's likely to offer a much more comprehensive history of mobile activities. One drawback: When the customer changes phones, the trail will end unless they set up an account.

The scenario where one huge QR code on the side of a building can cause hundreds of very different tailored messages to appear on consumer phones is compelling. It's doubly so when the phone then tracks all post QR-scan activities and can then transmit those to the retailer four hours later. Not bad for a geeky rectangle filled with dots.