How To Score 0/30 For Your QR Code

The image below is a QR Code in the window of the Nordstrom store in Seattle (thank you @5h15h). Let’s see how it scores on the three rules of QR Codes:

1st Rule: Mobilize the landing page. The QR Code resolves to the Men’s Apparel section of the Nordstrom online shop – not mobilized. Score: 0/10

2nd Rule: Keep the url short. The QR Code scans as a 117 character url…

…almost a record! Score: 0/10

3rd Rule: Make the content valuable. Unfortunately there is no compelling content just the standard unimaginative online catalogue. This is pretty boring on a desktop, on a mobile device it is a disaster. Score: 0/10

So Nordstrom scores 0/30 for its QR Code. The best we can say is well done Nordstrom for giving it a go and being an early adopter but I hope they read this, take the code down and replace it with one that scores 30/30!

Nordstrom QR Code in the Seattle store

10 thoughts on “How To Score 0/30 For Your QR Code”

  1. QR Code etiquette 1 & 3, I get.
    But I don’t see your point in “keep the URL short” with a QR Code. To the contrary, part of the advantage of using a QR Code is that the URL is rendered unimportant to the user, so you are no longer confined to a short URL that a user can easily remember and type in. You can take advantage of that with analytics/tracking code if you like (which, to their credit, it appears they’ve done).

    For the sins of 1 & 3 alone they should be given a zero, I agree this is effort looks like a failure (or more accurately, a low cost learning experience), but I just don’t follow what you’re point is about short URLs when using QR Codes.

    If I’m missing something, please elaborate. Thanks.

  2. That’s right! In the implementations we’ve done so far, we always try to shorten the URL for easier readability. All phones are different with differing abilities in scanning. You want to make SURE that you don’t have failed scans (hurts consumer adoption of this technology) so need to make the QR as “simple” as possible. And that means shortening the URL as much as possible.

  3. Roger:

    I agree…0/30…and not to pile on Nordstrom but, recently, I have seen their full-page ads in The New York Times promoting the store’s big pre-fall sale (or whatever it may be called) and while they make room in the ad for a Facebook and Twitter icon, they could have gotten more mileage, I believe, if they also had a 2D code that resolved to a video showcasing some of the fall clothes and accessories…show clips from a famous designer’s runway show, let people enter a contest to win fall merchandise, etc., etc.

    Seems like companies are jumping in on codes without enough thought. Is there a clock ticking, I was not aware.

  4. There are so many problems with this, I do hope that NORDSTROM pays attention (and, if we see this repeated in their Portland store, we’ll deal with it directly).

    It’s fine that someone in their design/display said, “hey look what we can try out.” But, it will fail. So, when NORDSTROM have a budget and want to do a mobile campaign, they’ll point to their failed QR attempt…and not spend real money on a real campaign.

    For the public, anyone who gets sucked into a wasted 2-minutes of time trying to deal with the current campaign, it is one more reason why they will avoid/ignore/bypass the next QR Tag they see.

    If early campaigns do not offer seamless and valuable experiences, QR Tags will become like banner ads — the human eye actually won’t be able to see them!

    For every poorly executed Tag campaign today, we all lose future customers.

  5. Excellent points made Roger, I have seen these easily avoidable mistakes happening more and more as people try to incorporate QR into their printed collateral and marketing materials. It’s failed attempts like this that motivate me to keep educating businesses about how to properly use QR and maximize the mileage they can get out of this technology. And people wondered why I started a QR code consulting business.

  6. This is an excellent example of how NOT to use QR Codes in a mobile campaign. The long URL, while not fatal, results in an over-sized code that is problematic for graphic designers and less likely to be scanned correctly under less-than-ideal lighting conditions. I did a quick test, using and a free code generator: see There’s no reason why Nordstrom had to use a monster URL.

    Another problem with the campaign is the assumption that Seattle window shoppers will automatically know what to do with the code! The time may come (maybe soon) when instructions won’t be necessary, but as a long time Seattle resident, I’d say we’re not there yet.

    The biggest problem with the campaign, as has been ably pointed out, is the poor mobile experience. The landing page is neither optimized for smartphone use nor geared towards an engaging mobile customer experience. A mobile Web user will NEVER use their phone to browse a large, undifferentiated selection of products — not when the actual store is right there!!!

    There are companies doing a great job with print-to-mobile QR campaigns, such as Warbasse ( and others. The folks behind the Nordstrom campaign are not among them. I’m sure they were well-intentioned, but I’m afraid this campaign is a non-starter.

    Edited to remove typos by request. – Editor

  7. Being on a window on the street gives odds that at some point in the day there will be a glare. My phone doesn’t read these codes well if there is a glare and after a few attempts, I am off to something else. (However, I know nothing about this particular location and it may not have been an issue) but it’s something to consider when creating these experiences.
    And that is the key…they are experiences NOT “look we have a 2D code so we are cool and people will still think we are cool even if we give them a poor experience”.

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