Try 2D Tagging Technology

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In the shower. In the car. At the gym. At the bar.

On a boat. On a date. In the greenhouse. Out of state.

I could Dr. Seuss you to death with the number of places cell phone users are accessing Web information via their phones these days. Lost and need directions? Your phone will bail you out. On the road and in need of gas? The solution is at your fingertips.

We’ve come to expect information instantly because of new technologies, and the expectation is no different for garden center customers.

If consumers are seriously looking, for example, at petunias with a sign that merely lists their price and a few basic care tips, consumers are bound to have immediate questions and an urge for more information once they return home. Fortunately, 2D tag technologies like Microsoft Tags and QR (quick-response) codes are here and capable of serving as a gateway to more information for consumers with smart phones. 2D tags are simply bar codes that can be read with any smart phone, and free, easy-to-use software lets you create your own 2D tags. Smart phone users can download the appropriate applications, such as Microsoft Tag Reader or ScanLife, onto their phones and scan the tag or code printed on a garden center’s signs.

Following the scan, garden center consumers can be directed to a website, a video or elsewhere for more information–just like the customers at Bob’s Market & Greenhouses.

“We’ve had Microsoft Tag up and running at our five retail locations,” says John Morgan, information technologist at Bob’s. “So far, we’ve had about 500 scans (in three weeks). I’m sure we will start to see more scans as we continue to deploy signs that use Tag and as other businesses start to use them.”

Big-Time Opportunity

Bob’s Market is beta testing Microsoft Tags this year. But, if the 2D technologies prove to be a true information gateway for its retail customers, Bob’s will likely intensify its effort to reach smart phone users and consider new mediums to engage them.

This year, at least, Bob’s created brochures with Microsoft Tags that link potential customers to Bob’s Market on Google Maps. The brochures were distributed to local tourist attractions, visitors centers and rest stops surrounding Bob’s different retail locations.

Initially, Bob’s is unlikely to hook hundreds of new customers via those locations with Microsoft Tags, and the operation is connecting with consumers in a way its competitors currently are not. But the number of smart phone users is growing rapidly. More importantly, a large percentage of the people enabled with smart phones is young people–the kind with whom our industry has struggled mightily to make a connection.

Want to learn more about Microsoft Tags? You’ll find more than a dozen in this issue. We’re linking you to Greenhouse Grower videos we’ve posted on YouTube–our visit to Dewar Nurseries, highlights from California Spring Trials and more.

Kevin Yanik is the former managing editor of Greenhouse Grower.

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