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Retailer of the Week: Smyth Jewelers

By Paul Holewa
Posted on December 16, 2010
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This week’s Retailer of the Week honor goes to the Timonium, Md.-based Smyth Jewelers for using QR code technology to make its “15 Days, 15 Deals” holiday promotion campaign fun and interactive. The emerging technology is new for most industries, but especially so for gem and jewelry retailers.

For the uninitiated, QR codes are barcodes that contain a wealth of information, from telephone and fax numbers to website addresses. The codes can be scanned using smartphones such as Droids, iPhones, or most 3G- or 4G-enabled mobile devices. Extra bonus points go to Smyth Jewelers for putting together a campaign that appeals to the store’s bridal clientele, who seemingly love their smartphones as much as their significant others.

When Mark Motes, COO of Smyth Jewelers, was approached by his ad agency, MGH, a couple of months ago about a possible QR code–based holiday campaign, his reaction was like that of most consumers. “I’d seen these types of barcodes on many products and magazine ads but I didn’t know what they were or what they could do,” says Motes. “I especially noticed QR codes when I saw vendors of ours such as Hearts On Fire and Martin Flyer using them.”

Mark Motes, COO of Smyth Jewelers

Now that QR code banners hang outside of each of his three stores, the largest of which includes a 20-foot x 20-foot banner in the store, Motes definitely knows what a QR code is and how it works. Smyth Jewelers' “15 Days, 15 Deals” holiday promotion started on Dec. 9 and ends on Christmas Eve. Each day, there’s a store special, a gift with purchase, or a discounted item. How do customers keep track of the daily specials? By scanning the QR codes outside the store, with in-store signage, on Facebook, and the store’s main website.

Users who scan the “15 Days, 15 Deals” QR code with a smartphone are taken to a landing page that promotes daily and seasonal specials. Some actual deals include: a tri-color, three-strand pearl bracelet free with the purchase of $25 or more; a 97-inch strand of freshwater pearls free with any purchase; discounts on diamond studs and diamond earrings; a group of 10 Honora multicolored pearl bracelets free with a purchase; and, when a customer buys $500 or more of Scott Kay jewelry, a free pair of Scott Kay cufflinks ($250 retail value).

Perhaps the best “15 Days, 15 Deals” special is an autographed official NFL football signed by Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, which comes with the purchase of a TAG Heuer or Breitling watch. Smyth Jewelers is the preferred jeweler of the Ravens and this gift with purchase reinforces that valuable brand tie-in. 

The “15 Days, 15 Deals” holiday promotion was created by MGH president Andy Malis, according to Ryan Goff, the group’s director of social media marketing. “QR codes piqued our interest earlier this year,” says Goff. “We’ve done some other QR code–based campaigns with other clients, but we designed this campaign to do more than just offer consumer deals. Considering how difficult it is to break through the holiday clutter, we wanted to use the QR code in such a way that it would also grab consumers’ attention and generate organic word of mouth.”

As a full-service marketing group, MGH wanted to offer Smyth Jewelers a unique campaign. Even though QR codes can be seen on everything from utility bills and letters scanned by the U.S. Post Office to small squares on magazine ads and even consumer products, the technology “sticks out right now,” says Goff. “With a QR code campaign we could offer Smyth Jewelers a unique and creative campaign.” 

And, unique and different is exactly what Smyth Jewelers got. Although the banners hanging outside three of Smyth’s locations are considerable in size, the only information they contain is the campaign name of “15 Days, 15 Deals” and the QR code—that’s it. It’s purposely cryptic, forcing customers who want to know more to scan the QR code. 

A 20' x 20' banner dons Smyth Jewelers' QR code for their 15-day Christmas campaign.

But Motes can’t rely completely on commuter traffic and the average motorist’s ability to see a 20' x 20' QR code from the nearest road. Goff is working with Smyth’s to leverage social media websites to help get the word out. The QR code was uploaded to Smyth’s Facebook page on the first day of the 15-day event. And the daily specials are posted each day on the jeweler’s profile page to encourage people to scan the QR code.

The QR code posted on Facebook

Motes recently saw a young man stop in front of a “15 Days, 15 Deals” exterior store banner and give it a quick scan. He also approached a 60-year-old woman in front of his Timonium store armed with a Droid.

“She told me she had a Droid and that she knew her smartphone could scan it and give her some information on our campaign, but that was the extent of it,” says Motes. “At that point I wasn’t in much better shape in understanding the technology, so with the help of some staff members we got her going.”

The QR code campaign is a creative solution to stimulate sales during the busiest shopping season of the year at a time when many retail stores are not only struggling with sales but also trying their best to develop promotions that create a definite buzz in their market.

Younger customers will now associate Smyth’s Christmas 2010 promotion with smartphones, placing the retailer in prime striking distance of an important demographic.

Not only is the campaign fun and interactive campaign, it also drives traffic to the store’s social media destinations, namely Facebook, thus increasing fans, likes, and followers. Not to mention that embracing breaking technology such as QR codes gives Smyth Jewelers a competitive edge in their market.

Finally, the QR code-based campaign is extremely cost-efficient. “You can create QR codes free online,” says Goff. “And all we had to do was create the landing pages for each day’s deals, work out the details of the daily specials and create the support materials such as the exterior and interior store banners. By all measures, this was a very inexpensive seasonal campaign that we were able to pull together in a relatively short period of time.”

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