using qr codes for business

Case Study: QR Codes and the wine industry

I love the idea of QR codes.  I think they are a great tool for many businesses but more often than not when I see them I see them being used in a way that makes me VERY skeptical that they ever get scanned.

The wine and alcohol industry seems to get it 

Many of the wines we buy have QR codes on them - an easy to scan code to tell me more about the wine I’m drinking or what it goes well with is something I can see taking the time to scan (more on what I wouldn’t take the time to scan at the end of the post!)

Chateau des Charmes (makers of one of my favourite wines - Gen Seven) was the first winery in North America to put QR codes on their labels.

“It’s all about empowering the consumer with information to help make a purchasing decision. The content on our codes coordinate with the back label info and the tasting note info on our website. It all overlaps, not duplicates.” Michele Bosc, Director of Marketing for Chateau des Charmes Wines told me when I asked her about their use of QR codes.  

“When we first launched them in 2009 the hits were minimal but the interest was high. Now the hits are much higher but the interest is lower because they are now everywhere. QR codes seem to now be expected. It didn’t take long to move through the adoption curve!”


Whenever I go in to an LCBO I’m impressed with how they are using QR codes and video in their marketing.









You can find QR codes everywhere, outside and inside their stores.  Also, they’ve done a great job of making the QR codes fun (did you know QR codes could be in colour?)

They link to information about wines, to recipes, to videos, and more.

They also always include the URL for those who don’t have a smart phone or don’t know how to use QR codes and describe what you will get when you scan the code.

QR code tips

  • Tell people what they’re clicking through to (I see this all the time, a QR code with no explanation whatsoever.  No chance I’m going to scan that).
  • Give them the URL in case they don’t have a smart phone but still want the information you’re sharing.
  • Make sure the QR code is an appropriate size to scan (I’ve always thought QR codes are a great idea for realtors.  When I see them on signs the codes are often so small I would need get our of the car and stand right in front of the sign to scan it.  This becomes to conspicuous for a lot of people to want to use).
  • Don’t use a QR code online unless you are specifically sharing information for people to bring with them on their mobile devices. Why would I want to take out a mobile device to scan something from my computer?
  • Make sure what you link to is mobile friendly. Also bring them to something specific, not just the front page of your web site.
  • If you’re using the codes in a location with staff, make sure your staff know what they are and how they work.  Because QR codes interest me I often ask staff about them when I see them. More than half the time the staff have no idea what the codes even are.
  • Use unique URLs so you can track the performance of the codes.

When used well, QR codes give you an opportunity to easily share more and interesting information with your audience.

Leave a comment and tell us where you’ve seen QR codes used well.

What is it and why should I care: QR codes

What is it?

A QR code (abbreviation for Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera telephones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data. ~Wikipedia

QR codes can be used for a multitude of different reasons and are seen more and more. It is a simple way to share a lot of information with one click.  Most apps will save the information from the QR code into your phone so you can go back to it again later.

Take advantage of them by downloading a QR reader to your smart phone.

Why should I care?
There are a ton of amazing uses for QR codes if you have a business, an event, or anything you want to promote. The key is being creative or finding a purpose that has use to people.

Here are some examples:

A restaurant could have a code in their window that leads to an online menu - then people can decide from outside if they are interested in eating there AND they can refer to it from home or elsewhere at a later date should they be considering going back or for takeout.

A real estate agent could put a QR code on the sign outside a listing - people driving by could easily scan the code, get the listing on their phone and be able to refer back to it when they get home.

Some cities are putting QR codes next tourist attractions giving people an extra interactive component to sightseeing.  Imagine walking up to a statue, scanning a code and having a short video play on your phone about the origins of the statue with actual photos of the people portrayed.

At a conference the sponsor of a table could have a QR code at a table that would lead to their site and some special offers just for conference attendees.

You could put a QR code with contact information on a business card - once it’s been scanned people don’t need to worry about losing the business card.

Put them on posters advertising events, products, etc.  Instead of having to keep track of small bits of tear off papers, they now have the information safe stored in their phones.

Use them for a scavenger hunt - all the clues come in QR codes.

I have a QR necklace.  If you see me, scan it :) It takes you to my web site, to a special page welcoming you for using the QR code, and it gives you discounts for my services ( which I change regularly :)

Where can I get a QR code?

I did a quick google search and ended up at There are lots of places you can have them generated.

Do you have a QR reader on your phone? What’s your favourite? Have you created any QR codes for promotional purposes? Have they worked?

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