How to use 2D codes (Data Matrix) in your business?

Senior Editor.

Data Matrix. The undiscovered marketing potential of 2D codes

Data Matrix codes (a type of 2D codes) are used in many industries. They enable, for example, monitoring of product circulation and provide protection against counterfeiting. However, the Data Matrix system also has other, lesser-known applications. 2D codes can be used for marketing and sales support, thereby significantly increasing company revenue. We explain how to do it.

Your first thought which comes to your mind when you hear “a barcode”? Black stripes on a white background accompanied by a sequence of digits. It's a one-dimensional EAN code that everyone has seen on the packaging of various products. In addition to it, there are about 250 more standards in the barcode environment, varying e.g. in size and information capacity.

Among 2D (two-dimensional) codes, Data Matrix codes are one of the most popular solutions. They differ from EAN codes by their ability to store much more data. At the same time they are one of the cheapest forms of labelling, therefore, they are perfect for marking low-margin products, although their application is not limited to this category of goods.

Data Matrix codes are still an undiscovered source of revenue for many companies

Data Matrix codes, although widely used in commerce and industry, still have an undiscovered business potential. Companies that use this solution often do not realize that they have the opportunity to "launch" new sources of revenue and increase their business efficiency with a relatively low cost.

They just need to implement the appropriate application that will allow them to use Data Matrix codes for marketing and sales purposes. Such as loyalty programs addressed directly to end customers without any intermediaries or incentive schemes for retailers. These solutions can be put into practice for a fraction of the amount spent on the implementation of a Data Matrix system.

Applications of Data Matrix codes: protection against counterfeiting, monitoring of product circulation

Data Matrix codes are used in various areas of industry: from food, through pharmaceutical, to electronics or automotive. In the most general terms, they allow to mark objects at selected stages of production and distribution in order to monitor their circulation and store information about them in a database.

As a result, Data Matrix codes enable better management of logistics, transport or document circulation. They also protect against counterfeiting, which is particularly important in the pharmaceutical and medical industry. In many countries, drugs and medical products have to be marked with Data Matrix codes. Such a requirement has also been in place in Poland since the so-called Falsified Medicines Directive came into force in February 2019.

However, with the use of Data Matrix codes other types of products, such as clothes, perfumes or tobacco products, can also be protected against counterfeiting. For example, OCB company uses Data Matrix codes on its packaging. It is true that the marking itself can be faked, because it is easy to create. However, the real protection is the data contained in the Data Matrix code, which allow to verify its originality, and thus, the originality of the product.

Data Matrix codes allow a large amount of information to be stored

Popularity of Data Matrix technology and its advantage over EAN codes is due to, among others, information capacity of this solution. – Data Matrix code can contain digital or letter data up to 2335 characters long. Storing such an amount of information allows for a more precise monitoring of marked objects and helps to identify bottlenecks in the processes they undergo – says Jacek Krywult, founder and CEO of PWSK, which deals with barcode implementations, including Data Matrix. Comparatively, the most common variant of EAN code (EAN-13) allows for only 12 data digits and one check digit.

The Data Matrix system is relatively inexpensive to implement

Another advantage of Data Matrix codes is relatively low price of their implementation. Although we're talking about six- or seven-figure sums, it's still cheaper than UHF RFID technology, which has recently been growing to compete with Data Matrix. – The cost of implementing a Data Matrix system depends on the type of operating software, the servers that store the data as well as the number and quality of 2D barcode readers used to read it. However, we can surely say that these amounts are still much lower than in case of implementation of UHF RFID tagging system – Jacek Krywult says. He adds that Data Matrix codes are among the most popular methods of marking objects and their position will not be jeopardized in the coming years.

The existing Data Matrix system can be extended for marketing purposes at low cost

In addition to high information capacity and low implementation price compared to competitive solutions, Data Matrix codes have one more advantage. They are perfect for marketing purposes related to customer loyalization without intermediaries, analysis of consumer behavior or development of advanced incentive programs for retailers. Extending the functionality of Data Matrix with marketing applications allows you to increase turnover and, as a result, reduce the cost of implementing the entire system.

In general, the concept is simple. It is best illustrated by the implementation we did for Olimp Labs. It is about Olimp Premium Club loyalty program designed for people who use dietary supplements. The program is based on Data Matrix codes found on the packaging of Olimp Labs products. With the application developed by us, users can scan 2D codes to add points to their accounts, which can be exchanged for prizes.

Olimp Premium Club app uses 2D code scanner for scoring points in loyalty programme

This tool allows Olimp Labs to build customer loyalty and encourage them to reach for Olimp products more often. Additionally, the data collected by the application allows for better adjustment of the offer to the user's expectations and needs, e.g. by suggesting similar or complementary products to those selected most often.

Data Matrix codes help eliminate costly intermediaries

Our project for Olimp Labs shows how to use existing solutions to increase sales and gain returning customers for the brand at a relatively low cost. Typically, this type of loyalty activities require the support of external suppliers of loyalty programs, which makes them less profitable. By using Data Matrix codes and a dedicated application it is possible to eliminate the costly intermediary between the brand and the customer.

Data Matrix codes in combination with a dedicated application can also be used in other ways. One of them is to create incentive systems for retailers, which allow to reward them for efficiency and, thus, increase company's turnover. With the use of Data Matrix codes, it is also possible to monitor and analyze sales data more effectively in order to better adapt the offer to the needs of the target group.

Data Matrix system extension can be performed best by an experienced software house

Developing an app that supports this type of applications is not an easy task. However, a software house with appropriate know-how and experience in this area is able to efficiently cope with the challenge. We know the whole process "from behind the scenes", because while working on the project for Olimp Labs we managed to overcome two key difficulties. One related to reaching a diverse target group and the other, much more serious, concerning the elimination of the risk of fraud.

In the first case it was about UX issues. We had to create an interface with universal values, satisfying the expectations of a wide cross-section of users. We achieved this by applying the user-centered design approach and conducting a series of in-depth studies with a carefully selected group of people.

The second case involved the threat of possible falsification of codes with the intent of earning points and exchanging them for certain benefits. This challenge forced us to develop proprietary algorithms to scan the database for suspicious transactions and flag potential fraud. As a result, we've created a user-friendly application that allows you to effectively leverage the power of Data Matrix. It's a great way to increase revenue for companies that have invested in this solution for logistical or anti-counterfeiting purposes.

Use the full potential of Data Matrix in your business. Ensure additional sources of income

If your company is using Data Matrix and is interested in expanding its capabilities through a dedicated, user-friendly and tamper-proof application – contact us! Together we will develop a solution that is optimally suited to your industry and business needs.

Do you want to gain benefits from the Data Matrix technology for your business? Contact us!

Przemysław Ćwik

Senior Editor.