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Express builds loyalty program via in-store QR codes

May 10, 2012

Users can sign-up for Express’ loyalty program

Clothing retailer Express is continuing its mobile bar code push with an initiative that encourages users to join its new loyalty program.

Express is placing QR code-enabled posters in both store windows and throughout the store to promote its new Next loyalty program. In addition to the mobile bar code, the display also includes copy that directs users to a mobile site to sign up for the program.

“Mobile continues to play an ever-increasing role in our marketing and commerce programs,” said Eric Brandt, vice president of ecommerce at Express, Columbus, OH.

“Our customer is always on the move, but the one constant is their mobile device – we interact with them through our mobile site, apps, SMS, email and push notifications, all accessible through their mobile device,” he said.

“The goal of this campaign is to add awareness and participation to our new loyalty program Express Next – we believe that there is tremendous benefit for our customer who is also a member of Express Next.”

Mobile loyalty
The copy for Express’ mobile-enabled posters reads, “Earn points. Get rewards. Repeat.” Underneath a large QR code is prominently placed in the middle and encourages users to scan to learn more about the program.

The QR code leads to the specific page on Express’ mobile site where users can sign up for the program.

At the top of the page, users who have already started the enrollment process can finish by typing in their Express ID, email or phone number.

Below, users who are new to the program can sign up by entering their contact information into the page. At the bottom of the page, users can opt-in to Express’ SMS program and sync their accounts to a Twitter handle to receive additional reward points, which helps the company tie its marketing channels together while also giving consumers an incentive for signing up.

The mobile bar codes placed around a store

In addition to bolstering sign-ups for the Next program, Express is also equipping its sales associates with new ways to promote the loyalty program. By showing a consumer how to scan the mobile bar code via their smartphone, employees could explain all of the program’s features.

“We see mobile going everywhere, and it is our goal to make the mobile experience for our customer as good or better than our desktop experience,” Mr. Brandt said.

“We feel that the mobile channel has significant growth left in it, and we are looking for new ways to delight our customer who uses this channel,” he said.

Scanned-in shoppers
This is not the first mobile bar code initiative from Express.

Earlier this year, the retailer placed windows decals with QR codes in store windows that connected to drive downloads of the Express mobile app (see story).

Users could also connect with the brand’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Additionally, last year Express used QR codes in its fall catalogue to let users shop new product lines (see story).

Although many mobile experts are doubtful about how effective mobile bar codes are, especially in a real-world situation where consumers might not know what the technology does, it does get users’ attentions.

For Express, placing the mobile bar codes in various places around merchandise is a smart move because as consumers walk around the store they see the QR codes repeatedly and might be intrigued to scan them more than if the mobile bar codes were only placed in one spot.

“QR codes are a window to the Web that can be delivered to mobile consumers most likely to act upon the call-to-action – the cost is nearly nothing,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.

Mr. Kerr is not affiliated with Express. He commented based on his expertise of the subject.

“In this case, since they are displayed in their stores, odds are disproportionately high that the audience is interested in deals, offers and ongoing communication from Express,” he said.

“Traditionally, a consumer has to remember to sign-up once they get home, and this is where the breakage occurs. Mobile allows in-the-moment sign-ups via a smartphone, at the exact time and place prequalified consumers are most likely to be.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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