The True Value of Pairing QR Codes With E-Commerce Packaging

There’s one thing every e-commerce order has in common: It’s delivered with some sort of packaging. Not recognizing that point of interaction as a major moment to deliver a branded experience and gather data is a missed opportunity.

As the industry has evolved, packaging has grown considerably in terms of its ability to serve as more than just a delivery vessel. QR codes are a prime example. They’re equipped with technology built to unobtrusively deliver information to customers while providing brands with insights that can help shape an even better customer experience in the future.

There are plenty of ways brands can use QR codes to elevate e-commerce packaging, but here’s why–and how–it actually works.

It allows you to be nimble with marketing

Everyone knows what a QR code is, but what’s not as universally known is that there are two types. Static QR codes embed permanent information, so once they’re created, whatever content they link to cannot be changed.

Dynamic QR codes are more advanced. Even after they’re created and printed, you can update them with any content, anytime. That means that you don’t need to worry about reprinting boxes, bags, or packing materials. You simply update the code with the latest content you want to drive customers to, such as a seasonal campaign or a new offer. Static QR codes also allow for real-time data tracking, allowing you to pivot as quickly and efficiently as possible, making them endlessly valuable.

It reveals what your customers are doing

When a customer scans a code, it generates data including where, when, and with what operating system the scan occurred. This provides businesses with insight into which efforts are more effective for customers based on various factors, such as their location or what type of device they use. As you learn more about your customers’ behavior, initiatives can be optimized accordingly, resulting in the more effective use of marketing budgets.

It tells you what your customers want

Shoppers are compelled to scan QR codes for varying reasons. In our 2022 e-commerce consumer study, we asked online shoppers when they are most likely to scan a QR code printed on packaging materials included in an online order. Most (28 percent) attribute their interest to entering a contest or giveaway. Subsequent reasons people scan QR codes include getting access to personalized offers based on purchases (26 percent), learning about products they’ve ordered (22 percent), learning about the company they ordered from (14 percent), and gaining access to interactive features such as games and videos (10 percent).  

Just imagine what you could learn about your customers’ habits and preferences if you tested your own mix of campaigns.

It’s an ecofriendly, economical communication tool

Today’s mindful consumers are increasingly interested in patronizing companies that strive to implement sustainable business practices. You could include an insert with online orders that educates customers about your ethical sourcing, manufacturing processes, or other information detailing your sustainability efforts. While this information is tremendously valuable, its delivery method can be costly to print, as well as an unnecessary use of paper resources.

Going digital with this information is walking the walk. By printing QR codes onto packaging materials, you can provide customers with easy access to desirable information without the added costs and materials required to design and print inserts. Plus, with options to customize QR codes with your logo, patterns, colors, and eyes–those three squares surrounded by a frame on the corners–it doubles as a branding tool.

QR codes are easy to create, you can get them to market quickly, and with the ability to track myriad data points and measure analytics, they can show actual return on investment. Incorporating them into custom packaging elevates it from a logistical component to a valuable and highly sustainable brand communication and marketing tool.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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