June 21, 2023
How To

How to Build a Best-in-Class CPG QR Code Code Experience

Brad Zomick

CPG brands are starting to dabble in QR Code experiences

Coca-cola has been quietly using QR codes for years. And if you look carefully, you can find them hiding in plain sight at supermarkets, drug stores, and big box retailers. 

But unfortunately, brands are making a lot of mistakes. For instance, we found 12 different ways Coca-Cola could improve its QR codes. And any brand using Smart Label has the same issues. 

Another area where brands experience serious issues is when they create a homemade QR code experience stitching together a QR code generated QR code and a landing page. This can get very messy when you are managing dozens and hundreds of SKUs. In the last week alone, we’ve seen the following mistakes. 

  • No CTA with the QR code
  • A QR code redirecting to a Google search for “placeholder”
  • A QR code going to the wrong product
  • A CTA for text engagement that links to a random article

Redirect issues are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot of nuance to creating highly engaging QR code experiences. 

If you want to do it yourself, we’ve outlined 14 steps to help you create a world-class QR code experience. If you get impatient after the first few steps, Brij can help you build a CPG QR code experience in a few minutes!

Step 1: Setup a dynamic QR code

You want to avoid printing static QR codes on a product. Static codes can never be updated if you ever change your website URL and need to redirect customers to a new page.

There are a ton of QR code generators out there to look into. Some popular providers are QRTiger, Bitly, Flowcode, and Beaconstack. Pricing plans start at $40/month and scale with the number of QR codes generated and scans. 

Step 2: Packaging & collateral design

The next step is to add the QR code to the product, packaging, or insert. There is some strategy around the placement of the QR Code to maximize scanning potential so customers can find the QR code. Some things to consider include:

  • Location
  • Contrast
  • Call to action

Avoid using generic text like “Scan Me.” If customers don’t immediately understand the benefit of scanning, they’ll never scan, making everything downstream meaningless. The call to action should clearly state “Scan to for a Coupon” or something along those lines.

You’ll need a designer and design software such as Figma or Adobe. Design SaaS starts at $75/month.

Step 3: Custom landing pages for each SKU

If you plan to deliver custom experiences across many products, you’ll want to customize your QR code experiences for each SKU (i.e., different flavors, sizes, etc.)

Like the QR code, the landing page should be tailored to the product they purchased. It shouldn’t be your homepage, and it also shouldn’t be a PDP. Too often, brands go for the hard sell, but QR code experiences are a tremendous brand storytelling, product differentiation, and education opportunity. 

Each page should have custom imagery and content related to that product. For instance, it should contain ingredients, nutrition information, recipes, and even the ability to shop for complementary products.  

Depending on your resourcing, you can use an in-house development team or landing page building SaaS. Unbounce and Replo are popular landing page builders that start at $99/month.

Step 4: Set up a product management system

If you have a lot of SKUs, you’ll need the ability to create variant pages and manage them centrally and independently. To address this, you can create a single product and multiple variants underneath it.

This requires parent-child relationships between pages and products. And the ability to edit a parent page that propagates changes to child pages that allows for easier tracking and maintenance.

This aspect of the project is all back-end development work and difficult to estimate costs. This step will require alignment from your data, customer service, manufacturing, and marketing teams (even if you buy a solution). 

Step 5: Optimize for mobile 

The QR code scan starts with a mobile phone, so the destination needs to be designed with that in mind to maximize customer engagement. This includes:

  • Compress all videos using compression software. 
  • Convert all images to mobile-optimized web format for faster loads.
  • Pre-rendering page content to eliminate page loads
  • Adding support for swipe gestures. 

We find the best experiences look and feel like an application but don’t require a download. 

Step 6: Survey features

While you have a captive audience, you’ll have an opportunity to capture as much information as you can directly from your customers in a user-friendly way. To maximize completion rates, it’s best to ask questions one at a time. Nobody likes looking at a long list of questions in a survey. 

You can integrate with survey tools like Typeform, SurveyMonkey, and Jebbit, which start at $25/month. 

Step 7: Build a management portal

So far, we’ve looked mainly at the front end of the QR Code and what customers will experience. When the customers start flowing, you’ll need a back-end to view opt-in records and coupon redemptions if you are doing rebate or coupon programs. 

This is where internal teams can see:

  • User information
  • SMS flow
  • Coupons redeemed (specific product, amount, etc.)
  • Sign up date
  • Expiration dates

On the high end, this could be a custom build portal built on MongoDB or Snowflake. On the low end of the spectrum, an Airtable or Google Sheet could be connected to form fill and survey tools via Zapier. 

The low-fidelity version of this would start at $12/month for Airtable and $20/month for Zapier. Still, it could escalate quickly depending on how many rows will be in the table and how many Zapier Zaps (the equivalent of API calls) there are. The custom-built portal will be even more costly than this because it will require developer time.

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Step 8: Receipt verification

Many rebate programs require proof of purchase. The most common method of verification today is receipt upload for review. 

Brands can use OCR tools like Veryfi or AppZen to automatically review and verify receipts to reduce manual labor review of receipts. Those tools start at $500/month. Alternatively, they can do this manually, which will take lots of time for customer service teams to review and approve all receipts in real-time.

Step 10: Customer portal

Many customers may return to double-check to learn more, reorder, or learn more about their rebate status. It’s not a bad idea to give returning visitors who have opted in with email or phone numbers a different return visit experience. Thus you’ll need to build a customer portal where they can create a customer account to deliver that experience or help them access coupon or rebate information. 

You’ll want best-in-class security and convenience with the ability to do passwordless, single sign-on. On the high-end, this is a big custom development job. On the low end, it’s possible to create a low-fidelity experience with Zendesk for $49/month but will require a customer service headcount to manage it. 

Step 11: Reporting and analytics

The team running the coupon program is going to want to track performance. Some of the things they’ll want to see:

  • QR code scans
  • Phone numbers collected
  • Coupons redeemed
  • Conversion rates
  • Engagement (pageviews, SMS interaction)
  • Clicks to website
  • Geographic distribution of engagement

They’ll want some standard reports and the ability to filter by product, date, geography, and other custom reports. 

Similar to other steps, it’s a big development effort, but Embedded Analytics SaaS allows a product manager to build analytics features without engineering. Some tools in this category are Explo and Cumulio, which start at $695/month. 

Step 12: GDPR & CCPA compliance 

The experiences will be processing and storing personally identifiable data (PII). So it’ll be essential to ensure all customer data is stored in compliant encrypted databases. And that it can be easily deleted permanently upon request. If you sell in Europe, you must also be GDPR compliant.

Dataships is a GDPR compliance SaaS for Shopify that can help brands grow compliantly for you. It starts at $275/month. 

Consider using a GDPR compliance platform like Dataships to help you navigate this.

Step 13: Ecosystem Integrations 

To make the most of the data you collect, you’ll need to ensure that it connects to your e-commerce platform. At a minimum, connect it with Shopify to understand which customers are new to the brand or existing and to your Marketing Automation Platform (Klaviyo, Attentive, etc.) to ensure they are added to email marketing and social ad flows. 

Both Shopify and Klaviyo have an active developer community, which could help build custom integrations to your portal. Tray, Boomi, and Mulesoft are all integrations-as-a-service companies, starting at $695/month. 

Step 14: Confirmation Emails and SMSs

The last thing you want to do is close the loop with customers opting into your lists. Set up automated confirmation messages when someone signs up for the program. 

Make sure to set up a flow for abandoned rebate processes to nudge customers who started but didn’t complete the receipt upload. You can execute this with Mandrill, Sendgrid, or an SMS API like Twilio. All of these tool price on volume transacted. 

 Ready, Set, Go! 

It’s 2023 folks. That means it’s time to shine a light into dark channels like retail and marketplaces, where previously, we had no clue who was buying and no way to engage. QR code experiences are a way to bridge the gap between retail and online, and give customers a seamless omnichannel experience. 

Above, we listed all the key components of building a QR code experience program. It’s a massive project that could take months and likely requires custom development work. However, we’ve also suggested a dozen No- or Low-code SaaS tools to save you money and time, starting at $2500/month. But that price point does not account for the volume of contacts flowing through your system.

If this project's complexity, time, and cost makes your head spin, then check out Brij. At the very least, we are happy to consult with you on your coupon and rebate strategy at any time. Get in touch to talk here!

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