Using QR Codes on Shopify to Direct an Online to Offline Customer Journey

How businesses with physical retail locations and services can use contactless store pickup and offline redemption ecommerce solutions with Shopify and QR code digital vouchers. Great for restaurants, gyms and studios, workshops, classes, retailers with gift redemptions and more!

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To date, Shopify powers over one million businesses worldwide and has become the cloud ecommerce solution for household brands such as Lindt, LeSportsac, Heinz, and Mead Johnson. In the past decade, the platform has become the choice for many digital-native brands, but today we will explore how retail businesses where a significant amount of sales still occurs offline in physical stores can make use of Shopify to retain and grow sales.

In recent years, primary offline businesses, such as supermarkets, are incorporating online stores into their omnichannel retail strategy to attract and engage customers. A global pandemic has only accelerated online retail and omnichannel sales. If your brand has an offline presence and Shopify store, you can now use digital vouchers with QR codes to link your online storefront and physical retail business more closely. Most online shoppers will also have a smartphone that comes with scanning capabilities, making QR codes a convenient, contactless method to redeem goods and services ordered online. In this post, we will introduce how digital vouchers with QR codes can help merchants bridge online and offline sales to offer customers a truly seamless brand experience.

What makes QR codes essential for online-to-offline (O2O) retail?

While many online businesses have been offering coupon codes for discounts for years, online orders have remained as e-mail confirmations and a unique order number. As a result, businesses that have sold goods and services online have created workarounds, such as asking customers to bring print-outs of their order to redeem offline. While this may work for small order volumes, the redeeming process is not scalable for business operations and time-consuming. Especially in light of Covid-19 precautions, online sales and efficient, contactless offline pickups are now essential for consumer retail.

Established businesses with multiple retail stores such as city’super have invested in a Shopify store for O2O retail by customizing display information such as items with specific store pickup locations and instructions for shoppers. Now, all Shopify merchants can offer a smooth and safe O2O retail experience for customers using the Wave Vouchers Shopify app to offer unique QR codes for digital vouchers and store orders.

What types of businesses can make use of QR codes for offline redemption?

While digital vouchers and QR codes can be used by any online store, we will outline common online-to-offline cases we have seen based on the clients that we have worked with. Below are some examples of how digital vouchers can be used:

  • O2O experiences: in-store product redemptions, order pickups
  • Promotions: free items/experiences in an online campaign
  • Services: classes, workshops, and offline experiences (e.g. tours)
  • Goodies: signature or seasonal items
  • Pre-sale: early-bird orders
  • Gifts: items for VIP customers, or gift certificates

Digital vouchers can be used by businesses for both general sales as well as promotional items. Since Shopify allows merchants to create items with a $0 value, creating a digital voucher for a paid item and a gift item would be the same. Thinking about using the digital voucher in this way allows merchants to experiment with digital vouchers for both sales and marketing strategies.

New Consumer Brands Offering Offline or Omnichannel Experiences

New consumer brands can also use QR code digital vouchers to immediately impress customers by elevating customer experience in offline retail. For example, if your brand is exploring offline opportunities or using pop-ups to engage your online community, offering a professional, streamlined and contactless redemption process will leave an impression on shoppers. Ideas of what you can offer include:

  • A QR code option for all the items in your online store for an offline pickup location
  • Limited items tied to a specific offline event
  • Hidden items only used for online marketing promotions to test community interest
  • Early-bird offers for product launches

Lifestyle and Luxury Brands Rewarding Loyal Customers

If you are a lifestyle or luxury brand, showing appreciation for your customers is a critical part of your business operations. Every year, you may be mailing hundreds or thousands of birthday experience vouchers, travel-sized holiday gift items, or coupons to a flagship store without always being able to measure the success of a campaign. With online retail, you can now let customers know instantly that they’ve been thought of and track which customers are interested in your offers with digital vouchers. You can use digital vouchers to offer:

  • VIP gift redemptions
  • Holiday items such as mooncake specials
  • Tasting sets
  • Limited edition samples
  • Online-only gift redemption campaigns for marketing
  • Cash vouchers

Businesses Offering Services, Classes, and Experiences

If you are offering a service, your first interaction with a customer sets the tone. Whether it is a language course, a tour, or a workshop, both you and your customer would ideally like to make administrative matters as frictionless as possible to maximize on time spent on the experience. Scanning a QR code upon arrival is the fastest way for you to mark off a redeemed booking. If you are offering experiences, you can consider using digital vouchers for the following:

  • General bookings (such as for tours or workshops)
  • Special events (guest speaker)
  • Gift vouchers
  • Trial class
  • Event ad-on (such as a behind the scenes visit)

Restaurants and F&B Businesses Creating Branded O2O Experiences

Restaurants may stand to benefit most from an integrated O2O dining experience with a QR code scan. Instead of relying on booking platforms, restaurants can now create branded Shopify store without any coding and use digital vouchers to offer:

  • Seasonal dishes or food items
  • Special events and dining experiences
  • Advance online orders (for take-away and dine-in)
  • Bookings with a QR code redemption
  • Limited giveaway items
  • Gift certificates with a specified value

Next Steps

The lines between online and offline retail are disappearing as consumers increasingly experience brands through multiple channels. The promise of ecommerce is not only convenience, but an elevated retail experience that is frictionless, safe, and accessible from a point of purchase anywhere to the redemption location. As such, online-first businesses need to consider offline customer engagement and traditional retailers must leverage ecommerce platforms to reach shoppers on their preferred channels. By offering contactless QR code vouchers, businesses can truly offer a seamless shopping experience for a customer whether it is on their home laptop, on the go from their smartphone, or in-store for pickup.

We encourage all merchants to experiment with digital voucher solutions to see how they can be integrated in O2O retail. If you are a Shopify merchant, you can try our app, Wave Vouchers, for free for one month.