With brick-and-mortar stores shut to curb the spread of the coronavirus, local businesses have been pressed for ways to reach potential customers.
To address this, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) introduced shoppable newspaper advertisements in April. These are printed with QR codes that immediately direct customers to the merchant’s website, social media page, WhatsApp chat, hotline, or lead generation form by SPH when scanned.
Besides being more convenient for shoppers, these advertisements also allow merchants to track the effectiveness of each advertisement based on the number of times a QR code is scanned, an increase in website traffic, or volume of online sales.
Since April, the QR codes on shoppable advertisements in The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, Lianhe Zaobao, and Berita Harian have been scanned more than 75,000 times, on top of the usual phone inquiries that print advertisements garner.
“This is a good choice as it fits our budget, is a good size, and includes a call to action,” says Ms Phan Qi Lin, 34, business manager of local supplier Freshmart.
She has been advertising for K-Fresh Zone, a partnership between Freshmart and Korea AgroFisheries & Food Trade Corporation to import fresh produce from South Korea, which is then sold at selected FairPrice outlets and online on Redmart.
Businesses such as music company Cristofori and Japanese restaurant Sushi Jiro added that it is an opportune time to try SPH’s shoppable advertisements as newspaper readership has recently gone up.
In a survey commissioned by SPH and conducted in April, 85 per cent of print subscribers said they have been reading The Straits Times in more detail during the circuit breaker period, and more than 50 per cent are paying more attention to the advertisements.
For Sushi Jiro, a first-time advertiser with SPH, using the shoppable advertisements alongside offering attractive discounts led its sales volume to increase by about 20 per cent.
Travel store The Planet Traveller also said its sales went up by around 70 per cent since placing shoppable advertisements in The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, Lianhe Zaobao and Berita Harian last month.
Mr Aw Yang Chen Lin, 25, marketing assistant for Seager Inc, the company that manages The Planet Traveller, says: “They work well as they are quicker and easier for customers.”
SPH’s head of client solutions and product development Helen Lee adds: “In a world where news is largely free, we know our print audience pays a premium for quality. Unfortunately, the buying instinct for print ads often gets credited to digital sources like online searches.
“To address this, we are using QR code technology, which has gained national acceptance, thanks to Covid-19 contact tracing procedures. SPH is committed to working on initiatives that bring the convenience of transacting online to its audience, whether they consume our content online, in print, radio or by encountering our outdoor advertisements.”