QR Codes at POS drive 16K daily deals coupons in two weeks

April 29, 2011 by Dave Haynes

On the heels of the RMG Networks announcements with BlueBite and Groupon yesterday in San Francisco comes word of a network that’s had hundreds of units in the field for the last few months linking digital signage POS screens with QR codes and Groupon-like daily deals.

The Counter Connection service has been around for several years, operating in Toronto and in the New York area. I’ve long been aware of their offer to give small businesses a full counter-based POS system for free, in exchange for having a customer-facing display at the counter.

The company was selling national, regional and hyper-local advertising to pay the bills, but it looks like that has been changed up in recent months.

Tony Comparelli, the CEO and founder of RT7, the firm that runs Counter Connection, says they have been doing NFC and QR code group buying on digital screens at  more than 600 retail counters in Toronto and New York since last November.

“Basically,” says Comparelli, “how it works is that when the user checks or cashes out, they are presented with an offer to purchase a deal (for a business or service that is within close proximity of the actual POS Terminal the customer is currently in front of) on the video display, which contains a QR Code. They scan the code and purchase the deal. Its that simple.  The sales receipt also acts as a ‘Deal Enabler’ – containing information about the just-presented offer on the customer display and allowing the customer to engage the deal some time post-transaction.”

Putting Groupon-style daily deals in front of consumers – without a need to check emails or opt in and launch apps – is pretty interesting. These are moments when people are in buying moods and on the move, and if the ads can be contextually targeted (someone ordering a salad may be more interested in a health offer than the person ordering a burger, fries and shake) that’s even more compelling.

The tests from the field, when the offer was launched, were very encouraging, says Comparelli. “We sold 16,000 vouchers over a two-week period on 200 screens.”

Interestingly, the company also tested deals on screens other than the POS display, and the results were less encouraging. “We extensively tested providing deals on the  Fokus Passive Digital Network (colleges and universities in Canada) in February and March of this year. The deal buying results, to date, have been disappointing, primarily due to the fact, we believe,  that the attention span of the buyer, in terms of reading and reacting to an offer on the display, is just not there.”

“Screens in places with shorter dwell times are challenging,” he says. “The retail network, in comparison, has the direct attention of the consumer while they are completing their purchase for about 60-90 seconds. That’s ample time to read and react to the offer.  The receipt option further extends the captive impression.”

“We are currently averaging five bought deals per terminal, per day.  We are working with a number of local group buying services in Toronto and New York as their affiliates, to fuel the deal flow.”

The company has started installing NFC readers directly into its newest-generation POS systems. The units also have updated printers capable of printing dynamic QR Codes for scanning post transaction.

The NFC units will allow consumers to tap the screen unit and instantly buy or interact with any deal, offer or promotion presented.  He says they already have iOS, Windows and Android apps to allow the smartphone-NFC handshake. He concedes broad NFC usage is well off in the future, but building infrastructure now makes sense.

Comparelli says his firm is now in the final planning stages of a roll-out to an additional 2,000 terminals in Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia and Austin. “By this time next year, we will be processing about 30-40 million sale transactions,  with the opportunity to speak directly (digitally and through the sales receipt) with 15-20 million consumers each month.”

RT7 says it has several patents filed surrounding the NFC/QR-smartphone transaction process and analytics.

Very interesting stuff, and like the RMG announcements, snapshots of where things are going.


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