What is a Product QR Code? – Innovate Your Product Packaging

Product QR code

Share This Post

QR codes have swiftly transitioned from an intriguing tech curiosity to a crucial tool in our daily interactions and transactions. 

According to a forecast from Statista, the number of consumers in the United States who scan QR codes with their smartphones is set to increase significantly. Between 2022 and 2025, an additional 16 million Americans are expected to use QR codes for various purposes, such as making contactless payments and accessing digital menus and various web links. 

This spike in usage underscores the versatility and growing acceptance of QR codes in our digital age. This guide aims to thoroughly understand product QR codes, exploring their types, functionalities, benefits, and best practices for leveraging them effectively. 

What is a Product QR Code?

Definition of product QR code

A Product QR code is a type of QR code specifically designed to connect consumers with detailed information about a product. These square-shaped, two-dimensional barcodes are easily scanned using a smartphone camera, making them accessible to anyone with a mobile device. 

Product QR codes can encode diverse data such as URLs, text, vCards, or multimedia content, enriching the consumer experience directly from the product packaging or labels. They can also be designed to trigger multiple actions, such as redirecting to a website and launching a mobile app.   

In the context of commerce, product QR codes serve as a digital touchpoint that brands use to tell stories, share detailed product information, authenticate products, offer promotions, and more. This ability to directly connect with consumers at the point of interaction—in-store, in an advertisement, or during an event—makes QR codes a powerful tool for enhancing the customer journey and building deeper engagement. 

Types of Product QR Codes

Four types of product QR codes

Product QR codes come in various formats, each suited to different applications and goals. Here’s a breakdown of the primary product QR code types.

Static Product QR Code

Static QR codes are designed to encode information directly into the code image and do not allow for content modification once created. They are ideal for providing static information such as product identification, manufacturer details, or permanent offers. 

The major advantage of static QR codes is their reliability and security since they don’t require an Internet connection to access the stored information. However, any changes in the information require creating a new QR code, which is a limitation for dynamic content needs.

Static QR codes are ideal for products with constant information, such as consumer goods. For example, a QR code on food packaging linking to nutritional information.

Dynamic Product QR Code

Dynamic QR codes encode a URL that redirects to a web page where the information is stored. This flexibility allows the content linked to the QR code to be updated or changed without needing to alter the QR code itself. 

Dynamic QR codes offer the advantage of being easy to update and enabling user engagement tracking through analytics. The downside is that they require an internet connection to retrieve the linked content.

Dynamic QR codes are particularly useful for marketing campaigns where the information needs frequent updates, such as seasonal promotions or evolving marketing content. 

Functional Product QR Code

Functional QR codes enhance user interaction by providing specific functions. Some examples include.

  • URL QR Codes: Direct users to websites, social media pages, or any online content.
  • vCard QR Codes: Share contact information that can be easily saved to a user’s phone.
  • Multimedia QR Davis Codes: Link to videos, music, or galleries.
  • App Download Codes: Direct users to app download pages on various platforms.

Functional QR codes are highly beneficial for engaging users with specific actions. However, they must be designed carefully to ensure they function as intended and provide a secure link to the intended content.

Customised Product QR Code

Customised QR codes incorporate logos, colours, and other branding elements to enhance brand recognition and visual appeal. Due to their distinctive appearance on marketing materials, these QR codes are more likely to be scanned. 

The customisation helps in aligning the QR codes with the brand’s identity, making them an integral part of the branding strategy. However, there is a risk of over-customisation, potentially making the codes difficult to scan if they are not executed properly.

What Type of QR Code Should I Use on Product Packaging?

Choosing the right type of QR code for product packaging depends on the specific needs of your product and how you intend to interact with your consumers. Here’s a table to help you decide on a suitable product QR code.

QR Code Type
Use Case
URL QR Codes
Direct users to a website
Share detailed product information, instructional videos, recipes, and contests
QR code on a food package linking to a recipe page
Social Media QR Codes
Increase social media engagement
Boost followers on social media platforms, promote new product launches and discounts
QR code leading to the brand’s Instagram page
Feedback QR Codes
Collect customer feedback
Gather customer reviews and suggestions
QR code on a product box directing customers to a survey page
Email QR Codes
Facilitate direct customer service communication
Customer service inquiries, returns, or suggestions
QR code that opens an email template addressed to customer support
vCard QR Codes
Share contact information
Provide specific contact details of the customer service or logistics department
QR code that adds the company’s contact information
SMS QR Codes
Send text messages
Report product issues or request exchanges without needing an Internet connection
QR code pre-filling a text message template for customer support
Plain Text QR Codes
Display static text
Show discount codes or special promotions
QR code displaying a seasonal discount code
Bulk QR Codes
Generate multiple QR codes at once
Mass production needs, including static, dynamic, and one-off codes
QR codes for various products in a large inventory

How Does a Product QR Code work?

Here’s a step-by-step overview of how QR codes work

  1. Encoding Information: First, the desired information, such as a website URL, product details, or promotional content, is encoded into a QR code using a QR code generator.
  2. Printing the QR Code: The generated QR code is then printed on the product packaging, labels, or tags. 
  3. Scanning the QR Code: Consumers use a QR code scanner, a standard feature on most smartphone camera applications, to scan the QR code. The scanner reads the pattern of black and white squares in the QR code.
  4. Decoding the Information: Once the QR code is recognised and decoded, the scanner software interprets the data and performs the appropriate action encoded within the QR code. For instance, if the QR code contains a URL, the user’s smartphone will automatically redirect them to the associated web page. If it includes contact information, it might prompt the user to save a new contact in their phone.
  5. Accessing the Content: Once the QR code is scanned, the consumer can access the digital content, enabling a seamless interaction between the physical product and its digital presence.

Benefits of Using QR Codes on Product Packaging

Six advantages of using QR codes on product packaging

Implementing QR codes on product packaging offers a multitude of benefits that can significantly enhance the interaction between consumers and brands. Here are some of the key advantages. 

Enhanced Customer Engagement

QR codes on product packaging turn passive shopping experiences into interactive, engaging encounters. By scanning a QR code, customers can access a variety of content, such as detailed product information, instructional videos, or interactive elements like AR experiences. 

This increased level of engagement enriches the customer’s interaction with the product and boosts the likelihood of a purchase by providing all the information needed directly at the point of sale.

Direct Access to Detailed Product Information

Product QR codes are an effective solution for delivering comprehensive product information directly to consumers. 

Customers can instantly obtain extensive information about the product, such as ingredients, usage instructions, or origin stories, simply by scanning the QR code. This is particularly useful in industries where transparency and detailed product information are crucial, such as food, beverages and cosmetics.

Improved Customer Convenience

Including QR codes on packaging significantly enhances convenience for consumers. For example, they can quickly access how-to guides, troubleshooting tips, or warranty information without contacting customer support or searching online. This instant access saves time and improves the overall customer experience, potentially increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.


QR codes are highly cost-effective tools for businesses. They eliminate the need for traditional printing of promotional materials or manuals, significantly reducing production and distribution costs. 

For example, a comprehensive user manual can be digitised and made accessible through a QR code. 

Flexibility and Customisation

QR codes offer vast customisation options, allowing brands to incorporate logos, colours, and other design elements that resonate with their corporate identity. This customisation enhances brand recognition and ensures that the QR codes align seamlessly with the overall packaging design.

Data Collection and Consumer Insights (For Dynamic QR Codes)

Dynamic product QR codes are particularly valuable for collecting data and gaining insights into consumer behaviour. 

When consumers scan these codes, they generate a wealth of actionable data, including the time and location of the scan, the type of device used, and even the duration of interaction with the linked content. 

This information is crucial for businesses aiming to understand their audience better and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly.

How to Create a QR Code on Product Packaging?

Six steps to create a QR code on product packaging

Creating a QR code for product packaging involves a few straightforward steps that blend design and technology to enhance consumer engagement and interaction. Here’s a detailed guide on how to design and generate a QR code specifically for product packaging. 

Step 1: Determine the Purpose

Before creating a QR code, it’s crucial to define its purpose. Determine what you want to achieve with the QR code on your packaging. Do you want to provide product details, offer promotional content, or direct customers to a support page? 

Understanding the goal will guide the design and content of your QR code.

Step 2: Select a QR Code Generator

Choosing the right QR code generator is crucial in creating a QR code that effectively meets your needs and enhances your product packaging. Here are key factors to consider when selecting a QR code generator. 

  • Reliability and Security: Choose a reputable generator to ensure the QR codes do not redirect to unwanted websites or expose user data to security risks.
  • Customisation and Features: Look for a generator that allows customisation, like adding logos and changing colours to maintain brand consistency. Ensure it supports both static and dynamic QR codes, with dynamic options being useful for content that may need updates.
  • Ease of Use and Support: The platform should be user-friendly, enabling you to create QR codes effortlessly. Reliable customer support is also important for resolving any issues.
  • Analytics: If you’re using dynamic QR codes, select a service that offers analytics to track scans and gather data on user engagement.
  • Cost: Consider both free and paid options depending on your needs, particularly if you require advanced features.

Step 3: Generate the QR Code

  • Enter the Information: Input the URL or the information you want to encode. This could be a link to a landing page, a digital manual, or a promotional video.
  • Customise the Design: To maintain brand consistency, customise the QR code by adding your logo, using brand colours, and adjusting the design to make it more appealing while ensuring it remains scannable.

Step 4: Test the QR Code

Before finalising and printing your QR code on product packaging, test the QR code to ensure it works correctly. Make the following tests: 

  • Scannability: Ensure the QR code scans quickly and accurately with different smartphones and QR code scanning apps.
  • Visibility: Test the QR code’s visibility on the actual packaging material to ensure it stands out and is easily noticeable by consumers.
  • Functionality: Check that the QR code leads to the intended content and that the landing page or media loads correctly.

Step 5: Integrate QR Code into Packaging Design

  • Placement: Choose a spot on the packaging that is easily visible and accessible. Avoid folds, seams, or highly curved surfaces that might distort the QR code.
  • Size: Ensure the QR code is at least 2 x 2 cm (0.8 x 0.8 in) to be easily scannable from a normal distance.
  • Instructions: Consider adding brief instructions near the QR code, guiding users on how to scan it or what they’ll gain.

Step 6: Monitor and Update as Needed

If you are using a dynamic QR code, monitor the analytics to see how often it’s being scanned and how users are engaging with the content. This data can help you optimise and update the content based on user feedback or changing marketing strategies.

Where to Apply Product QR Codes?

QR codes can be integrated across the three types of packaging to enhance product visibility and consumer interaction. Here’s a breakdown of how QR codes can be applied on different packaging layers and their strategic placement for optimal usability.

Primary Packaging

Primary packaging is the first layer of material that directly encases the product. It serves protective and informational roles, providing essential details in a limited space. 

Strategic Placement

  • QR Code Size: The QR code should be large enough to be easily scanned, at least 2 x 2 cm (0.8 x 0.8 in). The size may vary depending on the overall dimensions of the packaging and available space.
  • Position and Accessibility: Place the QR code on a flat, smooth surface, ideally on the longest side. Avoid placing the QR code on curved surfaces or near seams, which can distort the code and make it difficult to scan. 
  • Visibility: Ensure the QR code contrasts well with the background to enhance scannability. 
  • Accessibility: Avoid placing the QR code on curved surfaces or near seams, which can distort the code and make it difficult to scan. Ensure it is placed on a flat, smooth surface for optimal readability.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging groups one or several primary-packaged products. It often serves a marketing role and reinforces brand identity on retail shelves. This layer provides more space for larger or multiple QR codes, allowing for extensive or varied information.

Strategic Placement

  • Size: The QR code on secondary packaging should be larger than those on primary packaging, around 3 x 3 cm (1.2 x 1.2 in) or larger, to ensure it is easily noticeable and scannable from a distance.
  • Principal Panels: Position QR codes on main panels that are likely to face outward on shelves or during unboxing. This ensures they are immediately visible and accessible to consumers.
  • Flat and Smooth Surfaces: Ensure QR codes are placed on flat, smooth surfaces to avoid distortion and enhance scannability. Avoid placing them on corners, seams, or heavily textured areas.
  • Contrasting Backgrounds: Use contrasting colours to make the QR codes stand out. 
  • Multiple QR Codes: Utilise the available space by placing multiple QR codes for different purposes. For example, one QR code can link to a product catalogue, another to a customer feedback form, and a third to a special discount offer.

Tertiary Packaging

Tertiary packaging is used for bulk handling and shipping of boxed products. It is primarily used in warehouses and by transport operators and is not typically seen by consumers. QR codes on this packaging are suitable for logistical purposes such as tracking inventory, providing handling instructions, and linking to shipping documents.

Strategic Placement

  • Size: The QR codes should be large enough to be scanned from a distance. The ideal QR code size should be 5 x 5 cm or larger. 
  • Height and Accessibility: Place QR codes at a height that aligns with warehouse equipment, such as forklifts and barcode scanners. This ensures that the codes can be easily scanned without requiring staff to bend down or reach up excessively.
  • Position on Sides: Position QR codes on the sides of the packaging that are most accessible during handling. This would be on the front or side panels of pallets and large boxes.
  • Visibility and Durability: Ensure QR codes are printed with high contrast against the background to enhance scannability. Additionally, they should be placed on flat, smooth surfaces to avoid distortion. The codes should be printed on durable materials such as thermal transfer labels to withstand handling and environmental conditions during transport.

Best Practices for Using QR Codes on Product Packaging

Five best practices of product QR code

Here are some best practices for implementing QR codes on product packaging. 

Link to High-Quality, Mobile-Optimised Content

Ensure the destination content is mobile-friendly, as most QR codes are scanned using smartphones.

Here’s how to enhance the mobile-friendliness of your content:

  • Responsive Design: Implement a responsive design for landing pages to ensure text, images, and buttons adjust to different screen sizes automatically. This helps provide a seamless experience for users on any device.
  • Interactive Elements: Design interactive elements such as buttons and links to be easily tappable and well-spaced to prevent accidental activations. Incorporate engaging features like quizzes, surveys, or videos to keep users interested and involved.
  • Optimise Media: Compress images and videos to reduce load times and ensure smooth playback. Minimise the use of heavy scripts and opt for efficient coding practices to enhance page performance.
  • Accessibility Features: Include alternative text for images to aid those using screen readers. Consider options like voice search and navigation to accommodate all users and enhance accessibility.
  • Localised Content: Provide content tailored to the user’s location, language, and cultural preferences to create a personalised browsing experience.
  • Security and Privacy: Use HTTPS to secure the connection to your site, protecting user data from interception. Clearly outline your privacy policy on the page to inform users how their data is collected, used, and protected.
  • Testing and Feedback: Regularly test the landing page across various devices and browsers to ensure consistent performance. Actively seek and incorporate user feedback to continuously improve the mobile experience.

Ensure Optimal Placement for Maximum Visibility

Place QR codes where they can naturally catch the eye without interrupting the packaging design. Ideal spots are typically the front face or the top of the product, where interaction is most likely. Use mock-ups to visualise different placements and choose a spot that remains visible regardless of how the product is shelved.

Include a Clear Call to Action (CTA)

To maximise user interaction with QR codes, incorporate a clear and direct call to action (CTA) alongside the code on your packaging. This CTA should instruct users on what to do and what they can expect after scanning the QR code. 

Phrases like “Scan for more details!” or “Scan to discover exclusive offers!” can motivate users to engage. Adding a small graphic or icon depicting a phone scanning a QR code can also visually cue customers, making the process intuitive even for those unfamiliar with QR codes. 

Conduct Comprehensive Pre-launch Testing

Test the QR code on different types of mobile devices and scanning apps to ensure it works universally. Test various lighting conditions and angles to account for different shopping environments. Gathering a small focus group to test the QR code can provide insights into user experiences and potential issues.

Leverage Customisation to Reflect Brand Identity

Customise QR codes by integrating your brand’s logo within the centre or adjusting the colour scheme to match your packaging, which can significantly boost brand recall. Tools that generate QR codes often provide options for embedding logos and changing colours. To maintain the code’s functionality, ensure these customisations don’t cover more than 30% of it.


Product QR codes are vital in modern packaging, enhancing consumer engagement, providing product information, and improving marketing efforts. These QR codes connect the physical products with digital content, transforming passive encounters into interactive experiences.

We hope this article helped you to understand the various benefits and applications of QR codes in product packaging.

Latest Articles

Learning Centres