Recently, Latitude Research asked people to tell them about a time they wanted more information while in a grocery store. They study revealed that 56 percent of  participants wanted more product information, like food origins, safety, farming practices and health topics. Another 31 percent were looking for logistical information, like store navigation, pricing and inventory. The top answer to the question of how was smartphone delivery. With the majority of smartphone users having seen QR codes and a growing number of them using them, this could be today’s ultimate answer.


Let’s go through a shopping trip and see if we can come up with some ways to use QR codes and Microsoft Tags in grocery stores.


Before you go to the store, maybe you’re looking at the sales circular for this week. It has QR codes on it that either takes you to a web page to creates your grocery list or it gives you a recipe using the item in with an easy way to add it to your grocery list. Allow QR codes to be scanned of coupons so they can use the coupons without having to cut it out and remember it for later.


Next, we get to the store and as we enter, there is a QR code on the window or, and I like this idea, a QR code on the grocery cart. After scanning the code, a web page with this weeks sales items starts up. Now I don’t have to remember to bring my circular with me or remember to look at it before I go to the store. If it’s on the cart, it’s always with me. And it’s much “greener” too.


Now we enter the produce area. Hey look, there’s a QR code on the lettuce. After scanning it, I go to a page with the date it was picked and shipped. And look, there’s a link to a video of an interview with the farmer. Now, I have a particular interest in this lettuce since I’ve developed more of a relationship with the grower versus other products.


Lettuce QR CodeThis particular QR code on lettuce takes you to their Facebook page. While I’m all about being social and building relationships, I, personally, think this is a waste. What would be more valuable would be a link to a YouTube video showing me what to look for in choosing lettuce. Or if the code was on a papaya, a video showing me how to pick a ripe, juicy, tasty papaya and take the confusion and intimidation out of choosing the right fruit. Turn the phone into a knowledgeable employee helping me anywhere I’m at. Make it valuable and useful.


Meyers QROn to the meat section. Meyer Natural Beef is all about pure and simple beef, raised naturally and humanely without hormones or antibiotics. They use a Microsoft Tag to show in-depth information about these practices, all while I’m standing in the grocery aisle. Whole Foods has been using Microsoft Tag to share recipes and explain the origins and freshness of eggs directing shoppers to a video that shows the farmer talking about his farm and chickens.


Tie your barcodes into healthy diet programs. Tell them about Shopwell. Shopwell is a platform that allows your customers to build online profiles and scan 1D barcodes through its mobile app to highlight ingredients and nutrition labels. Help them watch their weight, keep track of the diabetes, avoid gluten or lactose.


Aisle scavenger huntUse it to introduce customers to your store, especially if you’ve moved products around. Personally, after I get familiar with a store, it ticks me off to no end when they move products to different aisles. But, what if you turned it into a scavenger hunt? Telling them to scan different items on different aisles with a reward once it’s completed. Value and utility wrapped up in a game.


Hydro QRUse shelf talkers for:

  • Mobile coupon distribution
  • Allow customers to give product reviews
  • Point of sale contests


RecipeGive them recipes using that product and, for a bonus, tell them the aisles of the store where they can find them. I know nearly every store is different, so use geo-location to determine which store they’re in and use the appropriate store layout from your database. Make it easy for the customer to buy from you!


Allow customers to sign up to a loyalty program, integrate this into your CRM and send them relevant and timely information like sales and coupons. Strengthen your relationship with them and not only give them value but yourself as well!


And finally, what everyone has been buzzing over for the last several weeks…



HomePlus is the second leading retail chain behind E-mart and far behind, at that. So in an effort to close the gap, United Kingdom-based Tesco (who owns a large part of HomePlus) came up with the idea to create a virtual subway grocery store that would take orders via scanning QR codes and delivering it to their home. These “shelves” were designed to look like the ones inside the brick-and-mortar stores.

This is absolutely brilliant on so many different levels. As I’ve said before, Asia is so far ahead of us when it comes to mobile use and the comfort level of the consumers. First, this is better than an online mobile store because I get to see the life-size version of the product I’m buying. That makes me feel better, more comfortable that I’m getting what I think I am.

Second, it gives them something productive to do while waiting. This makes these hard-working people feel good. After a long day at work, they don’t want to have to go to the store to shop for groceries.

During the three month period, 10,287 consumers visited the Homeplus online store using smart phones, according to the firm. Additionally, the number of new registered members rose by 76%, and on-line sales increased 130%.


Look for ways to provide value and utility. Build the relationship by providing them a way to make their life easier, simpler and a way to save them money. They will reward you.

3 Responses to Mobile Barcodes (QR Codes / Microsoft Tag) in Grocery Stores

  1. Mike Ishmael says:

    This is a very interesting post. I have two comments. The first is that this is really a powerful use of Augmented Reality. I know it is using QR codes, but the fact you are discussing the intermingling of the physical world with the digital world makes it a form of AR. And in my book many of your examples are a brilliant use of QR/AR.

    The second comment has to do with a stat I saw recently. It was in an article on Mashable and it stated that 66% of moms use their smartphones in some way when they shop. We really do appear to be approaching the knee of the curve when smartphones are going to have a much bigger impact on our personal and business lives.

  2. […] talked about mobile barcodes in grocery stores, real estate, restaurants, universities and retail environments. We’ve discussed the basics and […]

  3. leslie says:

    […] How to Use Mobile Barcodes in Grocery Stores | The Mobilists […]

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