How I built a mobile sales channel using our online community

How-I-built-a-mobile-sales-channel-200The introduction of quick response codes – barcodes that can be scanned by mobiles that link to extra content – has changed the way shoppers interact with their phones. But until now very few businesses have attempted to build a sales strategy out of them.


Prue Thomas, Sportsgirl strategic brand manager, seems to have done it. The company has introduced a shop window on Melbourne’s Chapel Street where shoppers can scan QR codes to buy products displayed on television screens.

It’s an interesting move, one that has been implemented after plenty of consultation with the business’s enthusiastic customers. But is it a new sales channel of the future or just a gimmick?


Can you describe how this idea came about?


It started from a few different things, but there were mainly two separate things.

First, we had our customers, our girls, telling us how they like to communicate and shop, and everything seemed to be lining up with a lot of mobile growth for us. We’ve had our mobile sales channel for awhile, and that’s growing, and we also have Facebook and forums on our main site, and that’s kept things interesting.

On the other side of the business, we have Naomi [Milgrom] the owner asking, how are we going to diversify the retail offering? How are going to increasingly work with online?

The thought was basically, could we use all the different channels we have at our disposal, and then put them together in one strategy?


Did you have any inspiration or ideas from anywhere?


I was also very inspired by a window I saw in London. It was a Net-A-Porter store, and they were doing such a fantastic job in summarising the whole customer experience. I thought, if we can make a great experience, then it’s worth doing.


But this is also about community. You engaged your customers here, asking them what they wanted. How did you do that?


At Sportsgirl we’ve been in a really privileged position, we’ve invested heavily in growing a community over the last three years. The worst thing to do would not be having your customers giving you all this insight, information, or just not using it at all.

We’re constantly challenged by the feedback we’re getting from our customers and how we can make it happen.

It’s near impossible to take everything on, but in this instance, it was just so obvious and easy to implement that it became a part of our decision-making process.


Is that a way you’re trying to differentiate from the competition?


A lot of brands shy away from that, they’re scared to collaborate.


So you simply just asked on the forums what the shoppers wanted?


It’s as simple as that, yes. They’re all incredibly vocal and we love that about them. It just makes everything so much more interesting.

When it comes down to it, they love being part of a brand they can engage with. If something’s happening, they want to be a part of it. And judging by what we’ve seen on our channels on Facebook and the forums, they all love the idea.


Do you think this could be a big shopping channel or is it mainly just a way to get publicity?


I think it does have the opportunity to become a new sales channel for us. At the moment, I suppose it’s a bit of a novelty factor, and girls are still getting used to using technology in a lot of different and new ways.

QR codes are growing and growing, and what we’ve found is that whenever we do a QR coded campaign, it has to be commercial, and it has to be tactical. Our customers don’t necessarily engage as much when we do content that is perceived as something else.

That’s all about learning something else about our customer base, something we already had an assumption about. Seeing it in live action is something different.


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