Here’s one that we pulled out of the archives – it was a story that we did on QR Codes.  If you didn’t want to read the whole story, here’s the punchline:

” QR codes are probably number 20 thing on the list you can do in online marketing for your customers.  If you have ticked of the other 19 things and looking for something fun, innovative and seemingly ‘cutting-edge’, but not overly useful, grab yourself a QR code. ”

For everyone else – enjoy the read – it’s a story on how one of our favourite local wineries has managed to weave QR codes into their marketing and the lessons they have learnt.

Interview with Tanya Olinder, Director/Cellar Door Manager @ Shaw Vineyard Estate – Friday, August 19, 2011

Shaw Vineyard Estate, a boutique winery located in Murrumbateman in the Canberra District wine region have started adding something new to their wines this month.

An ingredient that is designed to appeal to those wine drinkers with a refined pallet for a drop of technology.

Shaw Vineyard Estate’s latest wine release will be their first that feature QR (quick response) codes, better known as those ‘website friendly bar codes’ that are tailored made for helping people navigate to information via their internet enabled smart phones.  They hope that these little codes will help them connect customers more closely with the brand and wine stories well into the future.

QR codes on products were first launched onto the scene in Japan in 1994 by a subsidiary of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota.  Originally designed to track vehicle parts in car manufacture, QR codes have been going through somewhat of a renaissance as of late with the fast growth in software and devices that allow for the creation and use of QR codes, most notably iphones and google powered android phones.

Tanya Olinder is Director and Cellar Door manager at Shaw Vineyard estate and it’s been her journey in the world of QR codes that has led them down this latest marketing path. The use of QR codes in the winery  actually started when they started exploring new ways to attract people to their winery and wines through different online marketing channels .  The conversation about websites and new technology inevitably headed in the direction that many marketers are heading these days – smart phone apps.

“I started doing research into smart phone apps and I know there are a lot of apps about wine districts and areas in Australia. After some more thought I did wonder why would someone want an app just about one small winery in Murrumbateman.  It seemed like a lot of trouble to create a whole new online product and when I heard a story about Peugot (the car company) spending over $100,000 to create an app I think that put me off apps for life!”

So with one option scratched off the List, Tanya’s search turned to looking for more cost effective options and then she started seeing QR codes popping up around the place. “We were at the good food and wine show this year and I was in the hotel room after a busy day at the show.  I saw a wine  QR code for a wine company on one of the brochures I had and it got me thinking maybe I should look into this. We are seeing QR codes becoming really big in Asia and with our wine exports into this market we are always watching out for how this market is consuming not only our wine but information and marketing.”

Tanya acknowledges that she isn’t the first in the Canberra District to implement QR codes but is definitely in a small group of early adopters “We looked around the region and found some of the other wineries were doing it also so we know there has to be something in it!”.

So armed with some target market research under her belt and clear arguments on the cost, QR codes are free to create, her thoughts then turned to the different applications that QR codes could be used for in the business.

“We didn’t actually turn to QR code labeling our bottles as our immediate thought because there were easier things to start with like QR coding some of the information in our Cellar Door.

We now have QR codes at the Cellar door for signing up to our email list and a separate one for liking us on Facebook. These are two important marketing tools that we use to keep our customers up to date with Shaw Vineyard so making it easier for people to join these lists was an easy choice.  It’s definitely an innovation over the old clipboard and wine stained paper sign up list you see at most cellar doors”.

The QR codes on Shaw Vineyard Estate Wines is probably the biggest implementation of the QR code system.  From 2011 onwards all new domestic and export wine releases will contain the QR codes within the label design.  The codes will take the viewer to a page on their website which has the most up to date information on the release including tasting notes, food matching ideas, and the latest awards the wine has won”.  Adding another layer to the in store wine selection process definitely adds an attractive element for wineries that have been fighting the ‘label and shelf wars’ for years in Australia. For consumers this new marketing tool will provide those with a smart phone  a more accurate and timely way to research and explore new wines prior to purchase and a few handy tips about the wine to share at the table.

Even with Tanya’s relatively new experience in the QR space she can offer some tips to would be QR code marketers:

  1. Don’t change your website URL’s without thought –  if you have QR coded a certain web address you need to make sure you don’t change it without first considering where you have promoted that QR code.  If you delete or change a page a person will be faced with a website dead end and won’t receive the enriched experience that you intended for them.
  2. Think about your management of the codes – We will easily have over 30 different QR codes a year to manage by the time we label all of our wine releases for our different markets so keeping on top of these using software or even a manual system is a good idea.
  3. Test your codes before your press print.  Codes on flat paper may work differently to a round bottle so make sure the label is working before you print 10,000 labels!.  The guys at our printers test them with their iphones on a bottle prior to starting the print run and if they don’t work  they won’t proceed.
  4. Consider the long term – some of our wines getting labeled won’t be released for 2 years and then may be in the marketplace and wine racks in restaurant and home cellars for the next 5-6 years (or longer) so we need to ensure that we don’t just drop our interest in QR codes too quickly.
  5. Make sure the destination is mobile friendly – Shaw uses a content management system add on through their Joomla enabled website to provide a mobile friendly version of their site.  Tanya calls it ‘mobilising’ your website and ensuring that where you direct people online is as easy to consume as her wine is.
  6. Keep your URL’s short – The longer the URL the higher the pixelation of the QR code and the harder it can be for phone QR readers to process. So keep the URL as short as possible and the QR code easier to read. But a word of warning – using a third party URL shortner connected to a QR code can result in you loosing the ability to track the visitor which will make it hard to evaluate.

Tanya’s foray into this area has also provided some interesting QR experiences from other companies “I saw a QR codes on a PDF order form relating to wines that I was completing the other day. The QR code came with the text ‘Use this code to download an order form’ – did they mean the one I already had and was completing?!  Some people do need to think about the process behind the QR codes being added to things and ensure you are being smart with QR codes that really help improve the consumer experience.”

So what of the future of QR codes and Shaw Vineyard Estate?  Tanya says they are going to evaluate this over time and with some wine releases taking 2 years to even leave the winery she isn’t too fused with instant results.  “It costs us next to nothing to update the label because we were update the vintage each year anyway. We will refine the design overtime, right now they are a bit large, but as technology in the phones improve we might see different types of QR codes becoming available.”

So should you be QR coding everything in sight in your business?  Well it can’t hurt to start trying and testing things out – do you remember the first time someone told you about Facebook?

In the world of wine, anything that makes local Canberra district wines more enjoyable for consumers to purchase and consumer is surely going to leave a nice taste in people’s mouths.



More information on QR Codes follow the links below:



http://www.youscan.me/ – QR Code management tool

http://qr.net/ – Create quick QR Codes

http://beqrious.com/qr-code-generator/ – QR Code management tool

Here’s the media release version of this article on Threesides Media Wire.

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