Retailer of the Week: Smyth Jewelers

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

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

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.”