Extended Packaging Offers A New Opportunity For Increased Customer Engagement

VP Qliktag head shotA few years ago a buyer in a retail setting would browse a few products on the shelf, make a quick decision to narrow down choices based on the packaging, pick it up, observe the packaging for what it was able to convey and then decide whether to finalize the purchase or not.

More recently, the scenario is somewhat different. The consumers you find in retail outlets today are armed with a smartphone. They’re talking to someone as they shop, looking up search queries, snapping and sharing photos of products with their friends, reading product reviews and running price comparisons.  They are digitally connected, have access to massive amounts of information at their fingertips and make their decisions based on the information they have access to.  

The mobile phone and connectivity on the move is having a significant influence on consumers and the way they shop.  This trend has been a concern for a number of brick and mortar retailers. However, concerns aside, there is a significant opportunity here.  In 2009, representatives from some of the largest retail brands like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Walmart and L’Oreal put their minds together to jointly come up with the global standard for “Extended Packaging” in an effort to address the need to engage with an increasingly mobile device equipped shopper.   

What Is Extended Packaging?

According to, “Extended Packaging is a standards-based approach to allow consumers to access additional information about products through their mobile phones.”  Essentially, this is carried out through 2D barcodes/QR codes which most consumers can scan with their everyday smartphones and access additional product information beyond what is printed on the packaging.


The use of QR and other 2D barcodes on products increasingly is visible in recent times and there’s more to this trend than offering just a bit more product information to customers or pointing them to a web site.  The extended packing standard when used with purpose designed mobile-centric content can open a wide range of opportunities within retail.

Delivering A Richer, More Interactive Product Experience Through Packaging

Information delivery through physical packaging has its limitations not just in terms of space available for content but also the fact you can only use visuals or text to convey what the product needs to say.  With mobile camera scanable 2D codes, retailers can deliver extended information or experiences to customers through digital content and rich media such as video content, interactive pages, input forms and social media connectivity.  Imagine picking up a medical product, scanning the 2D barcode and triggering a video of a doctor walking you through the benefits of the product or being asked to enter your body type to receive more personalized nutritional benefits information. Extended packaging opens opportunities to deliver richer communication through the digital medium.

Implementing A Defence Against Showrooming

Showrooming or the practice of visiting brick and mortar retail stores to get a feel for products and then purchasing them online has been a concern for several retailers. However, a report from IBM indicates showrooming has been declining and creating in-store mobile engagement encouraging mobile use within outlets is not just helping reduce the practice but is an opportunity more retailers are learning through implementation.

Increasing Engagement At The Actual Point Of Purchase/Shelf

WPP revealed in a study they conducted “Shoppers want to be engaged by brands inside the store.”  The store shelf is effectively the final touch point where most customers make or change their purchase decisions.  With extended packaging enabled products, that final scan offers brands and retailers the opportunity to deliver additional information or engaging content when it matters the most, effectively increasing sell through rates.  Scanning a wine bottle to receive tasting notes and food pairings could help aid a purchase decisions for a consumer selecting wines.

Improving Customer Loyalty

The action of scanning 2D codes used for extended packing can also have applications to implementing creative loyalty applications.  Since these codes can trigger any online content through URL links on a users mobile device, they can also be used to receive inputs, deliver feedback forms or have customers enter data and enroll into loyalty programs especially in a post purchase scenario.  A buyer who just purchased a camping tent could scan the packaging and be directed to an enrolment form for an “outdoors club” with member privileges and receive updates on campsite reviews or discounts.

Gathering Customer Insights & Personalization

Perhaps one of the most significant impacts the extended packing standards will have on retail is the consumer data it will generate so brands and retailers can understand individual consumers better. Every scan will generate data points that can be harnessed such as which product was scanned, the location, retail outlet and more.  This will offer interesting insight into individual consumers scanning patterns, buying behaviour and individual preferences which could prove invaluable for delivering more personalized brand experiences and building stronger relationships with buyers.

A Retail Future Where Physical And Digital Are Bridged Through Mobile

While the introduction of the extended packaging standards was initially met with a watchful eye, more regions have joined the GS1 MobileCom standards since and the trend is likely to gather momentum in the coming months.  With shopper behaviour and preferences when it comes to processing product information changing, extended packaging is a step in the right direction and opens the doors of opportunity to brands and retailers to develop more engaging in-store mobile experiences for their customers.

Dilip Daswani is CEO of Qliktag Software Inc., a Newport Beach, Calif.-headquartered mobile software provider.  The company’s flagship product Qliktag is a mobile merchandising platform that enabled brands and retailers to connect and engage their customers in-store through interactive mobile technologies such as iBeacon, QR codes, NFC, Bluetooth and barcodes.  Prior to Qliktag, Daswaniis founded and headed Energy Crossroads as President and served as VP, Corporate Development for Triple Point Technologies.  

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