I have been thinking lately about QR-Codes and am trying to figure out what the holdup is within the beverage industry.
For those who don’t know, the QR-Code (or Quick Response Code) is a 2D box that functions like a bar code but contains a great deal more information. QR-Codes have the ability to embed text, URLs and other data. The codes can be read by a dedicated QR-Code reader or through many smart phone bar code scanners. Go ahead, give mine a scan.
The QR-Code seems like an invaluable tool not only for increasing the amount of information that is available to the customer, but it also has the potential to increase the interactivity and/or engagement companies have with their consumers.
What I am thinking of is this: if we place QR-Codes on products (wine and beer bottles) we immediately have the opportunity to link that customer not only to more information about the product. The QR-Code can provide consumers with production information, harvest information in the case of wine, types of hops and grains for beer, tasting notes, food pairings and a space to leave and read reviews.
Think about it: I buy a bottle of craft beer or wine and while I am drinking it, I notice a small box like the one above located somewhere on the label. I can scan a QR-Code and find out all the technical information I might want about the product. On the same site I can also score and leave a written review of the product.
But the QR-Code is not simply beneficial for the consumer, there are also incredible benefits for the producer. For instance, there might also be a place where the consumer can leave an email address, increasing one’s database for newsletter and email blasts. As a producer, I now have the ability to see what customers think about my product based on their reviews AND I have their email address. I not only have built my consumer database, but I also have the ability to contact them and thank them for their review – if it was good – or apologize if the review was bad. Companies should not be afraid of reviews, instead they should respect their unfavorable review, thank them or apologize for it and perhaps suggest a product that better suits their needs. The point of the QR-Code is not only informational, it also opens the door for engaging directly with customers. If I were to give a product a bad review and received a notice from the company apologizing for my displeasure, while I might not buy the same product again, I might try a different one. At the very least, I will maintain my respect for the company and certainly share my experience with others.
The point of the QR-Code is to create an immediate opening for customer engagement. Just having places for reviews on your website and asking people to visit is not enough. I rarely, if ever, think about a product after I have used it. I am very unlikely to visit your website and leave a review after I am done. However, if I am in the zone and drinking your product and I like what I taste, sure I’ll scan a code real quick and leave a short review. QR-Codes make engagement convenient. Likewise, with the increased move by companies toward social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and review sites like Yelp, linking your QR-Code to any of these sites would be another resource to increase your company fans and, in turn, your social reach.
While some wineries have moved this way, such as Argyle, St. Hallett, and Wither Hills through Cellar Key, this technology is still underutilized within the wine and beer industry. I don’t know if it’s a fear of technology, customer contact, or ignorance about where customer service and customer-product relations are going, but the industry needs to hurry up and start integrating these tools into their products before it’s too late and they fall behind.