Retailers: Have You Been Watching For This Awesome Hiring Trend?

Because retailers receive the lion’s share of job applications and resumes from younger workers, including high school students, college students, and fresh graduates at both levels, it’s valuable to keep your hiring practices aligned with the best new techniques. Surprisingly, near field communication NFC technology and Quick Response codes have both been making an appearance in the world of hiring, particularly in retail.

  • Give Your Resume Zip With This Code: Professionals in the world of HR and reputation management are starting to recommend to clients that they use a Quick Response code as part of their resume. The code can lead a reader to their online portfolio, or be used on a business card to present a more traditional resume.
  • Why Having a QR Code on Your Resume Can Help You Stand Out: Here’s another recent piece from Business Insider, advising job seekers that using a QR code in this way makes them “appear wildly tech-savvy and willing to embrace a future where technology reigns,” especially valuable for older workers.

Retailers Can Streamline Their Hiring Practices With QR: A Few Tips

You don’t need to be a near field communication company, or even have business relationships with near field communication companies, in order to make the most of this hiring trend. Generally speaking, your goal when you hire for retail is to minimize time spent on the process while still getting the best hire for the job. How do you use the Quick Response revolution to help you do that?

Try these ideas:

Ask Where They Got the Code: Since you can be fairly sure a young professional doesn’t have a long history with QR, it’s a good idea to inquire about how they generated the code and where they got the idea. Did they use an online QR code generator? Did they work with a career professional? Perhaps they were inspired by a trade magazine?

Scan the Code in Their Presence: While it’s typically helpful to review a resume in detail before interviewing a candidate, whipping out your near field communication reader and checking the code during the interview is one way to gauge not only the candidate’s technical abilities, but how he or she responds to pressure and the unexpected.

Critique Their Use of the Technology: Using a QR code incorrectly is worse than not having one, so be aware of how well the applicant has leveraged the technology. Is the site you end up at friendly to your mobile device? If there are any design errors, does the interviewee take constructive criticism well? Never take anything at face value!

Ask Them How They See NFC and QR: Knowledge of Quick Response codes is a great asset for the marketing, PR or web sides of the business. Asking about these areas might give you a better idea where the candidate’s true strengths lie. There’s a general belief that the way to get started in retail is through a sales position, so watch for people who aren’t leveraging their core talents the way they could be.

Could Printed Materials Be A Retail Secret Weapon? Further Thoughts on Strategy …

In a recent post, we discussed findings that Quick Response codes are much more likely to be scanned if they are found in a magazine or newspaper. For reasons that remain mysterious for now, people are far more likely to deploy a near field communication reader to scan something they subscribe to, in preference to a flyer or billboard. The obvious factor might be engagement: People simply assume that if a Quick Response code appears in a periodical, it must have the same quality as that publication.

If Engagement is the Key, How Can Near Field Communication Companies Use It?

Although the average near field communication company would like to think otherwise, we all know that it’s difficult to get customers to engage with material that they simply aren’t interested in at first glance. However, we can use the reverse of this phenomenon — the desire to engage with anything at all of interest during uninteresting tasks — to look at new and different ways to deploy our mobile marketing messages.

Think of these common situations:

  • Doctor’s Offices: Waiting in a doctor’s office is one of the most unpleasant experiences one might have in a year. Although many offices do have a selection of magazines, try to go local instead and look for smaller pamphlets and broad sheets provided by niche publishers. The cost of advertising in these is lower, and people are more likely to feel the ads are relevant to their community.
  • The DMV and Other Government Appointments: Government publications at the state level, such as the driver’s manual, have recently become tempting targets for advertising. There are public-private partnerships issuing all kinds of printed materials throughout the United States. Anything from a full color back page ad to a Quick Response code might be possible.
  • Public Transportation, Including Airports: Big companies pay millions of dollars every year for advertisements in subway tunnels and airport terminals that might only be noticed for a few seconds. The purpose of these ads is to take advantage of the downtime that people inevitably spend in buses, subways and trains — but why not take them to your brand and away from competitors?

One of the advantages of this approach is that you can segment your audience fairly effectively by type of business and time of year. For example, many of the ads swirling around an airport are focused on its business class passengers, and each airport and major city has its own convention season that could pull in profits for you. This shifts the game so that you don’t have to wait for potential clients to take initiative.

When people are bored, they’re at their most vulnerable for any kind of message — their minds essentially go blank. If you focus on placing your Quick Response code “under their noise” in this situation, with a priority focus on using print media and providing something of immediate interest, you can become the sole focus of their attention for a few precious minutes. That can be enough to start a brand relationship.

What Can Retailers Learn From QR “Fails?” Four Lessons

Grab your near field communication Android phones, because it’s time to talk more about everyone’s favorite form of near field communication NFC technology: Quick Response codes. Recently, QR codes have finally been getting the kind of respect — and response rate — that they deserve. That said, they’ve also been attracting attention as a source of ‘net humor: For example, see them lampooned on 15 More Appalling QR Code Fails.

As you can tell from the title, there have been other “QR Code Fails” collected on the Business Insider site and elsewhere. Usually, when Quick Response codes aren’t as effective as planned, the reason is because the code itself leads to a site that’s not properly optimized for mobile viewing. In fact, as the article points out, Quick Response codes are very effective when placed in print ads — particularly in magazines and newspapers.

So — what can retailers learn from these Quick Response code “fails?”

1) Don’t Put Your QR Codes on Unreachable Objects

This should go without saying, but it seems to warrant some attention. One of the most memorable QR “fails” involves a code being towed behind a small airplane while flying over the beach. Another, from the link above, shows us a code placed on the athletic shorts of two volleyball players — to be worn while they are playing.

2) Don’t Put Your QR Codes Directly Onto Food Items

People seem to be put off by the idea of finding Quick Response codes stuck to their apples, bananas, or other produce. It seems to trigger an automatic response of disbelief — and in the case of some food items, such as cookies, the texture of the object makes it difficult to scan the code, let alone browse the resulting site.

3) Don’t Put Your QR Codes in Sensitive Areas

While it is probably true that mobile technology will eventually be everywhere and consumers won’t be free from it for more than a few minutes at a time while out and about, no one wants to scan a Quick Response code in the bathroom. While there are tactful ways to present them while eating, this probably isn’t optimal either.

4) Don’t Make Your QR Codes Too Small

If your Quick Response codes are too small, nobody is going to be able to read them even under the best of circumstances. Remember that, although a QR code can hold a great deal of information, the average near field communication reader isn’t good at launching them under less than ideal conditions, including angle and lighting.

Retailers shouldn’t think that the fact some jokes are being made about QR means that it’s in trouble. On the contrary, once something is common enough to be mocked online it means there’s a growing awareness of it. Just be sure that you and your near field communication company, if any, always work hard to present your codes under the perfect viewing conditions — complete with an optimized mobile site.

Creative Branding in the World of Quick Response Codes

QR codes are a great technology with a lot of potential; but unfortunately, most Quick Response codes suffer from a fundamental branding problem. In fact, the fallout from this one little issue is probably the central reason QR codes don’t have the excellent response rate that marketers hope for. What is that problem? Well, it’s very simple and one that you’ve been staring in the face as long as you’ve used Quick Response codes.

QR comes from the world of logistics, a very straightforward “business-to-business” industry without any of the creative flourishes we associate with retail. It’s for that reason and that reason alone that most near field communication technology feels like working with fancy barcodes. Whatever might be said about the convenience of bar codes, they don’t get the blood pumping to make a purchase: They’re too plain!

Creative QR as the Future of Marketing: A Cautionary Tale

The answer to this? Visually engaging QR codes and “ordinary” codes that are used creatively with the rest of the marketing material. Most online QR code generators don’t cater to the need to create a branded QR code that kicks off a totally customer-focused experience, which leads to uncreative thinking on the part of some retail outlets; they want near field communication services to work for them, but they’re not quite sure what they want them to do!

Check out this example from a recent post at 2D Bar Code Strategy:

  • The Story of Canada Goose: Canada Goose has been using QR codes on its garments’ hanging tags. Unfortunately, there’s a total mismatch between their call to action and what the Quick Response code presents. The call to action (“Ask Anyone Who Knows”) is meant to enliven the code, which is branded with the Canada Goose logo. But when you scan it, you don’t get more information on the product — which would require different codes for every single product, by the way. Instead, you end up at a non-optimized home page for the brand.

If you read the comments on that piece, you’ll even find a representative from the near field communication company expressing his disappointment at the campaign. If the comment is to be believed, decision-makers at Canada Goose felt their desktop site was “mobile enough.” But the real key comment here is attributed to Dennis Mickley: “[V]ery few [QR codes] reach beyond the disappointment (irrelevant to immediate need.)”

Something for Inspiration: Possibly the Most Effective QR Code Ever

Used correctly, highly branded QR codes can not only meet an immediate need, but actually create a compelling need out of whole cloth. Check out this amazing example of an interactive QR code from Seoul — a 3D QR code art installation that transforms into a mobile code that issues coupons during the chain’s slow lunchtime hours. This has led to a 25% jump in sales at lunch time and a more than 50% increase in month-to-month membership in the discount club. QR works: It’s all in how you use it!