It’s an exciting time to be an omnichannel brand.
With the rise of ecommerce in recent years, there is now a wider range of channels for brands to reach and connect with customers, from the traditional brick and mortar store to the largest online marketplaces.
Owning these channels means knowing how your customers are engaging in each, and making data-driven decisions to optimize their experience across channels. But many omnichannel brands are not quite there yet, and this is because they’re losing access to customers’ first-party data when selling through third-party channels.
When you have a reliable way to collect first-party data regardless of where customers are purchasing, creating personalized and seamless customer experiences becomes much easier. An innovative way to do this is with QR codes. You’ve seen them on menus, billboards, TV screens, and now omnichannel brands are placing them on products and inserts to increase brand engagement.
The applications for using product QR codes are endless, but first, how can you get started? In this guide, we’ll explore:
- How QR codes have become a key part of omnichannel marketing
- The best practices when setting up a QR code campaign for your brand
- What data points you can (and should) collect, and more importantly, how you can use this data to strengthen your customer relationships.
Let’s dive in.
How QR codes have become a key part of omnichannel marketing
With rising customer acquisition costs (CAC), it is admittedly challenging to be omnichannel without selling through wholesale or large online marketplaces like Amazon.
These platforms place brands in front of millions of customers, but brands don’t have much control over the content and narrative that gets presented. They have no direct relationship with customers that purchase their products through these channels, sacrificing a full brand experience and their customer data.
Moreover, without key first-party data such as email and phone number, brands have limited ownership over customers’ post-purchase experience. How can brands opt customers into their loyalty program and SMS list? Or notify them of new product releases?
Placing QR codes on products or product inserts, part of the Internet of Things, allow brands to collect first-party data and communicate with customers regardless of the channel. What’s more, let’s say an omnichannel brand has invested time and resources into crafting a great customer experience both in-store and on their website. With a tool that bridges both worlds, the brand is able to take customers on a guided shopping journey that exposes them to everything the brand has to offer.
The best part about using QR codes is that there’s no onboarding process required for customers—everyone knows how to use them (owing to the pandemic).
We can trace the catalyst for the wide adoption of QR codes back to the beginning of the pandemic, when there was an urgent need for efficient and contactless interactions in high-traffic places, namely retail stores and restaurants. Customers started using QR codes at various points throughout their shopping journey, from reading more about products to redeeming coupons and making payments.
QR codes have quickly become the go-to delivery method of information for three key reasons:
- They are accessible. All you need is a smartphone with a QR code scanner, which most smartphones have after Apple (2017) and Google (2018) integrated a native QR code reader into their devices’ camera app. Compared to 2011, the percentage of Americans who own a smartphone in 2021 jumped from 35% to 85%.
- They create frictionless digital experiences. It only takes one scan for the user to get to the designated site (0.1 seconds in fact!). Gone are the days where they need to type in even a truncated URL. QR codes provide a frictionless way to connect users to the digital world.
- They are versatile and highly customizable. This is how vastly different industries are able to use QR codes in countless ways. Food and beverage brands, for example, embed QR codes on their products to share recipes, while QR codes on appliances and electronics encourage customers to activate their warranty. QR codes are a blank canvas that businesses across industries repurpose for their own needs.
All this to say: QR codes make it possible for brands to be omnichannel without sacrificing the brand experience and customer data. You regain control of your brand identity, directing customers to custom content, the brand story, how-to videos, extra product information, and more.
Best practices for setting up a QR code program for your products
Because QR codes are a bridge between offline and digital channels, it’s critical to consider the entire customer experience in these spaces, from QR code presentation to the post-scan interface.
The basics for creating a QR code campaign for your products are the following:
Give customers a reason to scan
There are various use cases for using product QR codes, such as driving repeat purchases, encouraging customers to join a loyalty program or activate product warranty, and sharing the brand story. You need to show customers that there is value in scanning the QR code, and an effective way to communicate this is through calls-to-action. You only have seconds to capture customers’ attention, so be witty, concise, and exciting.
Determine what content to display
What the customer sees on their smartphones after they scan is part of the first impression. The advantage of QR codes is that you can deliver a consistent brand identity regardless of what the rest of the environment looks like. When a customer scans the QR code on your product in a department store, for example, they will be directed to your website and essentially have a tunnel-like view of the brand.
Increase visibility with strategic QR code placement
Depending on your product, there are several places you can place the QR code. With CPG products,, the most strategic places are on product inserts and product packaging. With apparel, the best place is on the clothing label.
Build trust by using secure QR codes
Potential security risks with QR codes, such as phishing attacks, can be avoided with user awareness and secure technology. With platforms like Brij, you can deploy QR codes safely knowing that each QR code links to content that is sanctioned by your team.
What data can you capture with QR codes?
Once you launch your QR code campaign, get ready for a data mine. There are several key metrics you can collect with QR codes, namely the number of scans and registrations, website traffic, and engagement across different channels.
Being able to track each of these metrics gives you critical information about campaign success and where you might need to fine tune your strategy.
Scans and Registrations
If the number of scans and registrations suddenly drop or are inconsistent, this could tell brands that their inserts aren’t being included in their packaging correctly. At Brij, we have found this with a couple of customers who have then been able to reach out to their co-packers to make sure they start including inserts again.
Registration rates can be measured as the number of registrations/number of scans and by number of registrations/total sales. At Brij, we are seeing an average registration rate of 30% for CPG brands and 60% for Durable Goods brands. This is 10x that of an average email popup opt-in rate, proving that using QR codes and additional content is a great way to encourage your customers to share their information with you.
First-Party Data and Email Capture
A good time for brands to consider adding QR codes to their packaging is when they are launching in third-party retailers, such as Amazon, and might be doing a packaging refresh for these new channels. When launching in retailers, brands need to determine a strategy for how they are going to continue to connect with their customers post-purchase.
Some common use cases for product and warranty registration, reorder and subscription opt-in, and sharing educational and marketing content, such as set-up videos, recipes, product origins, and other brand stories. With QR codes in the post-purchase experience, you can collect key customer data such as email and phone number, location, and what they are purchasing.
When using retailer-specific QR codes, you can see what percent of total sales through a specific channel are registering their products and sharing their information by comparing registration numbers to sales numbers. This gives you a way to attribute revenue, specifically direct revenue from the QR code experience plus indirect revenue post-QR code scan.
Engagement with Experiences
You can also track engagement of customers to see what content they engage with the most and use this data to target your marketing efforts. For example, if you embed a video into the brand experience, you can track the number of viewers to determine if this content is resonating with customers.
What can you do with your customer data?
Unlike third-party data, the first-party data you collect via QR codes is the result of customers directly interacting with your products. It provides a much more accurate picture of who your customers are at a granular level.
Make changes to your QR code campaign in real time
Your QR code campaign won’t be perfect from the get go, but trends in your data can inform where to improve. If your scan rate is low, for example, you can adjust the product’s packaging to make the QR code and call to action more prominent. Or if you’re seeing poor conversion after scanning, you can iterate with different incentive offers and call to actions for the QR code to help improve engagement.
Predict engagement across sales channels, products, and even SKUs
With product or even SKU-specific QR Codes, you can compare how customers engage with the QR Codes. Are some products performing better than others? Are people who bought X product more likely to engage than people who bought Y product? This can inform how you want to interact with these customers moving forward.
Target your marketing efforts to give personalized customer experiences
Data from QR codes can also sync with your email and SMS services to allow you to easily communicate more relevant messages to customers. Are certain customers ready for a product restock? Send them a reminder text that directs them to a reorder page. Others might not have completed a product quiz that they accessed while browsing in-store. A personalized text message might be enough of a nudge. Understanding who your customers are and how they are engaging with your brand directly impacts your AOV and customer lifetime value. Ultimately, it makes for a better omnichannel marketing strategy.
Own Your Channels with QR Codes
If you’re looking to have ownership of customer data and strengthen your omnichannel strategy, a platform like Brij can help you gain insight into your customers across all sales channels. By using QR codes in your omnichannel marketing strategy, you’ll be able to deliver a full brand experience throughout the customer journey. It’s good for your brand, and great for your customers.
* This is a guest post from the team at Brij.
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