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GUEST COMMENT Getting close to customers through coding

Understanding the drivers behind a customer’s purchasing habits as well as what makes them tick, is at the top of every brands priority list. This information not only enables brands to personalise their marketing, the right way, but ultimately this information holds the key to long-term loyalty. Many customers are already excelling; informed by deep learning and vast data, Netlifix automatically recommends you watch Prison Break because they can see you have been following Orange Is The New Black, from the start. And whether it’s a recommended Netflix watch or a Spotify playlist, it’s a method which works. The goal is to show them what they want before they even know it; just as Steve Jobs once said: “get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves.”

However, when it comes to digital technology, online brands have traditionally had the upper hand when it comes to excelling in the area of personalisation. This has left many offline brands asking the question: How do you get close to your customer when your brand isn’t an online service that’s routinely capturing user data? For companies who market a physical entity such as a children’s toy or a male grooming kit, complex supply-chains can stand in the way of even identifying who your end-customer is, let alone what they want. Although this may suggest that building a relationship with your customer or establishing long-term engagement is tucked away somewhere in the abyss, this isn’t the case.

So how can companies, with the advent of simple, affordable technology, meet these goals quickly and cost-effectively.


New marketing opportunities have reinvented consumer behaviours. One such opportunity is the availability of personalised barcodes which can be read by smartphones, which have led to an increase in shoppers scanning product barcodes to discover more about the brands they buy. However, until recently, the absence of standardised coding has meant brands needed to form proprietary apps to deliver their value-added features, and thereby relying on customers’ willingness to download ‘yet another app.’ But the introduction of GS1 Digital Link barcodes, which provide a standards-based structure for barcoding data, has meant that these apps are no longer required. Advanced coding and marking systems have assisted this development as they enable brands to include more information about the product, in more detail on the barcode, which means the customer experience can be personalised at scale.

In terms of marketing innovation, personalised coding has so much potential; not only can it transform their product into an owned media channel, they can get closer to their customers and build a level of trust and engagement which will lead to long-term brand loyalty.

An online ecosystem

Every brand, whether they are online or offline are able to form an online ecosystem. Personalised barcoding is able to provide a gateway to online content – user manuals, product details, blogs, communities, and customer support – all of which,  enhances the brand experience. This opens up so many doors when it comes to customer engagement.  Many brands are already capitalising on the QR code to form immersive brand experiences, from promoting competitions, loyalty schemes to offering gamification. The brands taking it to the next step are using these coding solutions as a way to create personalised and innovative gifting; customers can use this platform to record personal video messages to accompany their presents, forming an interconnected and personalised experience.

As a case in point, in Germany, Coca-Cola formed a digitally activated mobile campaign, offering a ‘simple scan’ moment to customers. This move meant Coca-Cola were able to transform its products into an owned media channel, captivating customers with the advent of competitions, content and incentives. Due to its success, it has since rolled out across 28 European and North American markets.


Once used as a way to safeguard medicines in the supply chain against counterfeit drugs, serialisation is now used across many industries. Track and trace can be used to determine brand authenticity, which, in light of a growing consumer focus on carbon footprint and sustainability, is becoming an important requirement for brands. Traceability, specifically in the food industry is therefore becoming increasingly valuable as more consumers become interested in the journey of foods and the provenance of their produce.

Customer data

With customer experience the most competitive battleground in consumer markets, barcode innovation undoubtedly provides considerable value for consumers.  By integrating direct link barcodes into their products, brands can, through capturing a rich seam of real-time data, understand – and respond to – customer needs. Brands can build a dynamic picture of their individual customers through leveraging simple information such as user profiles, geo-location, purchase history, dates, and times. This data alone is able to build a powerful marketing platform which can be utilised to target customers and personalise communications based on their behaviours and preferences. With access to customer buying cycles, marketers can upsell products and accessories through timely and applicable emails and notifications. Most importantly, they can use this data to recommend the products customers will want, before the customer even knows it.

The opportunity

Through the availability of barcodes, the retail experience has been transformed.  Consumers can now find out more about the products they buy than ever before. With the emergence of GS1 Direct Link Barcodes-  and the smart technologies that support them – brands now have the ability to get much closer to their customers. With digital disruptors on the rise, the brands who will be successful in this uncertain economic climate, are those who exploit the opportunity of personalised barcoding, along with the coding and marking solutions that will make their customer experience and brand relationships blossom.

Lee Metters is group business development director at Domino

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