Guest Column | December 11, 2012

MY Social Network Is YOUR Showroom

David Gosman

By David Gosman, CEO, pcAmerica

Target® did something really cool for this holiday season. Well, cool from a retail-geek perspective. Like several of their fellow retailers, Target has been experimenting with several different options to fend against ‘show-rooming.’ Show-rooming refers to the recent phenomenon where consumers view a product in a store but then buy from another company online because of pricing, stock levels or convenience. Target is placing QR codes on shelf tags next to the 2012 holiday season’s top-20 toys. Consumers can scan the QR code with their smart phones, order right from the device and have it shipped straight to their homes. The shipping is free, and the toy will supposedly ship regardless of stock levels at that specific store.

The new tool from Target makes it easier and faster to shop, and holds many obvious advantages versus traditional in-store transacting. There is, however, a not-so-obvious opportunity for retailers to expand the benefits into the social-sphere. Most products within retail stores are marked with a standard, manufacturer-provided UPC code which serves one simple purpose – identification of the product. The UPC bar code can’t do a whole lot more, and each UPC code is generally consistent throughout all retailers. QR codes, however, can be dynamically generated by a retailer and can hold more data than a UPC code. They can, for example, identify a specific promotion for a specific product, at a specific retailer.

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