Smarter Product Sampling with QR Codes

The team at Openscreen recently had the opportunity to help power a business that’s nothing short of a revolution in product sampling and customer engagement.  Imagine a frictionless, contactless, retail experience where brands can provide a low-cost product trial experience, while gleaning invaluable first-party data from prospective customers.

Enter Dori, a Toronto-based company that is reinventing the contactless customer experience with Openscreen’s QR Code based product sampling solution.

More than Just a Vending Machine

We’ve all seen the traditional vending machine.  Rows upon rows of consumer products, from cans of coca-cola to high priced electronics.  Pick your product, enter your credit card, and carry on.   The Dori sampling experience is entirely different.  Although they do offer vending options, their sampling offering is unique and timely in today’s data-driven economy, which is placing more emphasis on contactless user experiences.

Simple Workflow, Powerful Results

At its core, the Dori experience is brilliantly simple. First, brands like Goodfood provide samples of their products in high traffic kiosk locations like this one in Toronto’s famous Distillery District.

Next, people who are interested in a free product sample simply scan a QR Code that is displayed on the outside of the physical kiosk to jumpstart their contactless experience.  And then, magic happens.

The customer is provided with a simple form, through which they provide some demographic information, and perhaps answer a question or two that would be helpful to the sampling brand.

Within seconds, the customer receives a secure, one-time QR Code voucher by SMS, which they can redeem for a sample of their choice from the machine. Using this modernized sampling approach, Goodfood gathered over 4,400 consenting contacts within 1 month at the Eaton Centre and Distillery District.

Dori = Data

Gone are the days where paid employees set up camp in a store or park and start tossing out samples to an anonymous hoard of people.  Return on investment in these campaigns is an impossible metric to measure, and often it’s difficult to control the disbursement of samples in these free-for-all environments.

With Dori’s QR Code based product sampling, there is a one-to-one ratio of sample to customer and both brand and consumer leave happy.  Customers get to sample a free product, and brands get invaluable first-party, consented data that can be used to better understand their market opportunities.

Openscreen and Dynamic Voucher QR Codes

Openscreen’s flexible API enables e-Commerce platforms like Dori to generate secure, dynamic QR Code vouchers directly from 3rd party sources.  In addition, Openscreen provides scan-to-form solutions that acquire and store first party contact data on behalf of the companies that use the company’s solutions. Given its extensive API and SDK library and ecosystem, Openscreen is uniquely positioned to enable your business to use QR Codes in a variety of frictionless e-Commerce use cases.  Talk to one of our experts today to learn how we can augment your business processes and platforms.

In Venue Audience Capture

Sports franchises have many opportunities to gather first party data about the fans who are interested in their teams.  Point of sale terminals capture concession sales, ticketing platforms manage customer information, and newsletters gather e-mail addresses of die-hard devotees.  But what about getting real time customer data when fans are most engaged with their teams? Wouldn’t the ultimate method of fan insight and engagement occur if teams could gather data from their fans while they’re sitting in their seats, cheering on every play?

Openscreen Engage

Openscreen Engage is an audience engagement solution that uses scan-to-form dynamic QR Codes, customer and consent management, and real time SMS communications solution.  When used in sporting venues, we’ve been able to give teams unparalleled first party data about their fans and the games they attend with unprecedented rates of engagement.

Case Study: The Gatineau Olympiques

This past Spring, the Gatineau Olympiques of the Canadian Hockey League leveraged the Openscreen Engage solution.  Twice a game, they flashed a scan to win trackable QR Code on their jumbotron.

One lucky winner would get a signed jersey in return for providing some consented customer and contact information through a frictionless and nearly instant auto-fill form.  Fans filling out the form received a confirmation text message indicating they had entered the contest.  Openscreen Engage managed all consent and text communications, creating real time engagement with fans.  Moreover the Olympiques could use the received mobile number to notify winners, and ensure duplicate entries were adequately prevented.

Tracking Engagement Like Never Before

The beauty of Openscreen Engage’s trackable QR promotions is the opportunity to directly measure engagement with certainty.  Brands know immediately whether their promotions are working, and with an additional element of customer opt-in, they’ll also able to get the “who” in every campaign.

30% Engagement. Really.

You might be surprised to know that the Olympiques achieved a 30% scan and completion rate with their Openscreen Engage campaign.  Starting from zero, they were able to gather almost 5,000 customer contacts over just 3 games, with detailed knowledge of who was attending their games.

Importantly, they were also able to create a list of their most loyal fans who had scanned and attended all of their playoff games.

Openscreen Engage and First Party Data Acquisition

Openscreen Engage is an end-to-end customer engagement and insights solution that allows brands to acquire first party data to drive client loyalty and insights. Openscreen Engage combines dynamic QR Codes, digital content management and real-time SMS & e-mail communication to create compelling, modernized campaigns. Talk to one of our experts today to learn how Openscreen Engage can transform your customer experience.

Direct Mail Magic with QR Codes

There’s a real estate boom happening where I live, and pretty much everywhere in North America right now. That means my mailbox gets filled with direct mail from realtors who want to sell me a new home or get me to list my home through their brokerage. We literally get dozens of these in a month, and I’m sure some of you do as well. For many, these postcards go directly into the recycle bin.  Others – like me – always take a glance at what’s moving and landing in the neighborhood. Maybe there’s a dream home out there that’s waiting to find us.

Direct Mail and Engagement

Direct Mail is a lot like that philosophical saying, “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”. What I mean by that is the following:  If a marketer can’t tell if someone has looked at their direct mail piece or not, did it really create engagement? This doesn’t just apply to real estate agents, of course. It cuts across the many industries using direct mail to engage with customers and prospects: banks, insurance companies, car dealerships and furniture stores – they are all using direct mail to sell high-value items to high-value customers. Most, if not all, have no idea how to measure the full engagement of their campaigns.

Friction & Engagement

Calls to action on direct mailers (an e-mail address, a website, or a phone number) can provide a simple way to measure engagement and response. Still, in a digital world full of clicks and swipes, it’s often too much friction for someone to take the time and make a call or send an email. Yes, we’re just that lazy these days. Moreover, unless the marketer specifically asks, there’s no way of telling if an e-mail or phone call came as a result of the direct mail.

The question then becomes, is there a frictionless way to engage direct mail recipients that can also be specifically attributed to the campaigns themselves?

Personalized Direct Mail and QR Codes

Personalized direct mail campaigns leverage pre-addressed pieces directed to customer or prospect households. For example, a real estate agent may use a data file containing 500 addresses in a given neighborhood, and mail out individual postcards to the respective “homeowners” residing at these addresses.

By including a unique, personalized QR Code on each postcard – that might for example, allow a signup to a newsletter for exclusive information – the agent can implement frictionless response that implicitly ties back to that specific address and direct mail piece. When a homeowner scans the QR Code on the postcard, the realtor will know exactly which house the scan is from, and when the homeowner submits an e-mail address and name, that data would append immediately to the contact address data held by the agent.

Openscreen and Personalized QR Codes

Openscreen’s flexible API enables marketers and direct mail print systems to store contact address information, and in turn, generate unique scannable QR Codes tied to each. Marketers can generate batch files of QR Codes to bring to their print company, or printing presses can directly integrate to Openscreen to enable this functionality as a value-add for their customers.

Online advertisers like Google and Facebook may have disrupted the advertising landscape by moving measurable and frictionless ads to the online digital world, but by leveraging contactless technologies like QR Codes, physical advertising can implement a similar magic.

Why QR Codes Underachieve

A few weeks ago, Tobi Lutke, the founder and CEO of Shopify, tweeted a short but accurate assessment of the state of QR Codes today. It went like this:

“The west is still using QRCodes totally wrong. A QRCode on a restaurant table that opens the menu is not really what we want. A QRCode can be unique to the table and allow food ordering directly to it. Should carry state and context.”.

He hit the nail on the head. But like so many tweets, the brevity of the message left the universe begging for a further explanation of what he meant. As you might have guessed, I’m going to give it a try:

West versus East

The tweet starts out by calling out “the west” for misusing QR Codes. That’s a reference to how “the east” has been using QR Codes more broadly and purposefully for years. In Asia – most notably China – QR Codes have been used across many diverse applications. They’re placed on products to authenticate provenance and brand, they’re used for payment for goods and services, they are in advertising, job recruitment and are also used for identity and wellness verification.

Employing QR

Codes for applications like these require them to be ‘smarter’ than the QR Codes we see on things like restaurant menus and store signs today. They need to be secure, and often need to capture data about the scanner (who, what, where, when, etc…). They also need to be produced at scale. Think about producing a QR Code that dynamically represented an individual and their vaccine status. This QR would need to be integrated to a medical record system, its response would change dynamically according to someone’s changing vaccination status.

State

Implementing a QR Code where results can change dynamically start to hint at Tobi’s recommendation that QR Codes carry state. For example, if a QR Code carries a state of “unvaccinated”, then scanning an individual’s QR Code might direct a browser to a warning. Changing that state to “first dose” received might render an altogether different response if that same QR Code was scanned again.  You get the idea.

Codes like these are often called Dynamic QR Codes, which simply means that the result of scanning them can dynamically change based on an underlying attribute of what that code represents. Dynamic QR Codes are also trackable and can be edited whereas Static QR Codes – like the restaurant menu example – cannot be tracked and the destination/landing page cannot be changed.

Context

Lutke also paired Context with State in his wish for better codes.   Where State might represent something about the underlying thing a QR Code represents (e.g.: a bottle of rare whiskey), Context could represent something about the scan action itself.   Context could be something like:

  • The date and time the scan took place

  • The number of times the code has been scanned

  • The location and device from which the scan was made

Context can deliver valuable information to the maker of the QR Code and other stakeholders. In essence, Context adds another layer of value to Dynamic and Static QR Codes.

Openscreen and the Explosion of the Dynamic QR

We’re believers that QR Codes can be put to broader and better use in the “west”, so to speak. Across Health Care, Marketing, Authentication, Supply Chain and many other applications, Dynamic QR Codes can deliver secure, robust, and powerful digitization of the physical world. With our platform and developer tools, we are helping companies integrate this type of functionality into their mission-critical applications.

As for your tweet Toby, we wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for putting out the call to action and we hope you keep an eye on us as we set out to change the way QR Codes are used in everyday life.

IoT – Connecting the Next Trillion Devices

Today, we live in an Internet of Things universe where billions of devices interact with people, the cloud and each other. In our own daily lives, household appliances, personal wearables and the cars we drive have mostly graduated to the realm of IoT.

Distilled to its basics, the premise is simple: embed a tiny computer and a radio into a device so it can send and receive data between people and things. This drives automation, intelligence and interactivity that was previously impossible. And with near ubiquitous and inexpensive internet coverage, there is great incentive to invest in transforming disconnected devices into IoT-ready things.

Where are we Today?

Forecasts predict that by next year, we will have over 29 billion connected IOT devices on our planet. That’s a lot of cameras, sensors, handhelds and industrial machines. Within the four walls of your home alone, that likely includes every appliance, fixture, and screen. But let’s face it, 29 billion is a fraction of the physical inventory of the things on our planet today. To exploit the full potential of IOT, we’re actually talking about connecting trillions of things, aren’t we? There are so many items that could benefit from being connected to the cloud, items that can’t bear the added expense of a chip and a communications radio.

Branded consumer goods could leverage cloud connectivity to validate authenticity. Sensitive shipments like vaccines and legal documents could be tracked for chain of custody and transfer. Even simple print media could leverage internet connections to provide audiences with more information and interactivity. The applications are endless. So, how do we get it done?

Connecting the Unconnected:  QR and NFC

Contactless technologies like QR Codes and NFC chips provide an elegant and powerful solution for the 99% of things that can’t shoulder the added expense of a radio for connectivity. By embedding these virtually free ‘tokens’ into everyday items and using devices (like our cell phones) to act as their radios, we can create a bridge to IoT for just about anything.

While the subsiding pandemic showed us the utility of contactless technologies like QR Codes, it only gave us a tiny glimpse into how they can be used to digitize and automate the physical world. Today, most QR Codes scan to static endpoints like websites and documents. In reality, QR Codes and NFC tags can be instrumented to do far more. They can be configured to collect and store all sorts of contextual data, capture scanner demographics, and trigger dynamic workflows that change based on parameters. But to bring these features to everyday use cases, better developer tools and platforms are needed.

Openscreen and the Contactless Era of IOT

Openscreen’s vision of connecting the next trillion things in an IOT universe is based on being the broadest and most developer-friendly platform for contactless technologies like QR Codes and NFC tags. By empowering developers to generate dynamic QR Codes at scale, with robust data and scan capture utilities, we’re lowering the barriers to embed contactless tech into enterprise applications. We enable developers to securely store the things we want to connect to the cloud, and easily create the QR tokens that will get them there.   Openscreen’s developer API and SDK make it easy to get started right away, and our reference documentations showcase powerful applications across diverse industries. After all, a trillion is a big number. Let’s get going!

QR Codes for Counterfeit Detection

It’s been said that there are a whole lot of things that are fake in this world. And it’s true. The rise of unique luxury items in an increasingly homogenous world has made counterfeit products an immense problem. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Investigations recently estimated the cost of counterfeit in the US to be $600 billion annually.

Counterfeit and Fraud Detection

One of the problems in combatting counterfeits is that anything can be copied.  So, if you put a special ‘authenticity’ tag on an expensive pair of shoes, there’s nothing to prevent that tag itself from being copied.  It’s analogous to when your bank card is ‘duplicated’ (virtually or digitally): Banks can’t tell which card is real versus which card is fake. However, what they can detect is if the same card’s credentials are being used in two different places at the same time. They can also detect abnormal usage patterns, which in turn allow them to detect that counterfeiting and fraud have taken place.

Using QR Codes:  An Illustration

QR Codes are not foolproof. They can be duplicated in the same ways as the products they can protect against counterfeit. But QR Codes can be used in unique and creative ways to detect and deter fraud. Take, for example, the famous Rubik’s Cube, the world’s best-selling toy, and likely the most copied one as well. An interesting idea would be to embed a QR Code that scans to tutorials, or a solver’s club. For extreme security, they could create a unique code for every cube sold. Or, to simplify matters, they could create a unique code for every market they sell in, or for every retailer they sell through.   By watching scan patterns of these codes, they could readily detect if a specific code was being over-scanned or scanned in anomalous locations.    This could greatly diminish copy-cats.

Openscreen for Counterfeit Detection

Openscreen’s easy-to-use and powerful SDK allows retailers in any market to generate and embed the creation of unique QR Codes, at scale, via their product and package manufacturing machines. With minimal cost, companies could drive savings that would help magnify their return on investment. They could also go further and leverage QR Codes to allow customers to register product ownership, which would help to create lasting post-sale relationships with them.

Latest and Greatest

Blog Posts