By Bryan Boyhan
Computer technology has rapidly changed the way we choose to make our purchases. We buy music and videos online, make our vacation reservations online, and each Christmas more and more people are buying their holiday gifts over the Internet, replacing in some cases the glossy catalogues that jam our mailboxes. The benefits for marketers is that the Internet, with its nearly unlimited capacity, can provide the shopper more information about a product, not to mention the easy ability for a shopper to comparison shop without leaving their laptop.
QR — or Quick Response — codes are now making it easier for shoppers to shop on the fly, without ever having to return home to their computers.
QR codes are those boxy, digitized images that resemble jumbled up bar codes. Developed more than a decade ago as a tracking system for Toyota in Japan, the codes have started to make their way into retail stores and print ads — even billboards — in the U.S. The hook here is that they turn your smartphone — think BlackBerry or iPhone — into digital catalogues. Simply take a picture of the QR code with your phone and detailed information about the product you’re considering appears. Further searches can lead you to comparing prices. (Imagine standing in Best Buy and discovering the same television is cheaper at Target). With some phones, you don’t even need to take a picture; just hold the camera portion of your BlackBerry up to the code and the information appears.
This week, the first QR ad in The Express appears courtesy of Hamptons Realty Associates, the first Hamptons’ agency out of the box to use the new technology.
“I felt I wanted to do something that would set us apart,” said Denise Rosko, owner of the ten-month-old HRA, located on CR39 in Southampton.
“I wanted to offer another way for people to get information and discover what we have to offer,” said Rosko.
Rosko is launching a campaign this week in area newspapers that will feature the code, allowing readers to dig deeper into particular homes and learn more about HRA, even the particular agent that is representing the property.
“They can learn all the facts about the property, such as square foot size, lot size, and more about what the property has to offer: a beautiful treed lot, for example.”
Rosko, who started the firm after working for Agawam and Century 21 real estate for more than 15 years, said she discovered the technology after seeing the QR codes in Geico and Merecedes Benz ads. She was impressed with what she saw and decided she could find an application for the code in her own business. And she sees a real potential for growth.
“With Verizon announcing a new smartphone and all the Androids, people are going to jump on this,” she predicted.
Potential buyers will also find the codes in places other than print ads, Rosko believes, and sees using QR in a range of ways, including on business cards and even on real estate signs in front of individual houses.
“Maybe people are out driving around and they see a house for sale they like,” said Rosko. They can take a picture of the code and learn what they need about the house without ever having to speak to an agent. But if they want to talk to an agent and actually get inside the house, the agent’s information is available at the touch of a keypad.
“Technology has changed a lot in our business,” said Rosko, who remembers a time in real estate when the Internet never played a role.
“We’re so focused on getting the information, I want our customers to get as much as they can,” said Rosko. “I want to make it as easy as possible.”