The One where the Barcode Does Not Scan for three days before launch

“Barcode doesn’t scan!” 

Those three words were the subject line of an email I received three days before the go-live of the Lunar New Year promotion for Holt Renfrew. It was a disaster that we had just days to fix.

Half a million Holt Renfrew customers were about to receive a personalized invite to open their digital red envelope for the Lunar New Year. With the expected footfall to their stores, the in-store team were not happy at the prospect of having to type in thousands of numeric codes at their busy tills. They needed the codes converted to a scannable barcode. 

At BeeLiked we pride ourselves on creating innovative gamified promotions, but no matter how engaging the promotion is, it is the financial results that ultimately matter. We knew that unless recipients were able to redeem their discount codes, our client would not achieve a good return and could even lose revenue from disappointed shoppers. 

Why the red envelope?

For those unfamiliar with the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, it’s a tradition to gift a bright, beautiful red envelope (known as 紅包, hóngbāo) to your friends and family. But this is not just any old envelope – it is filled with money and symbolizes good wishes and luck for the new year ahead. The importance of the hóngbāo isn’t the cash held inside; it’s actually the envelope itself. The red color symbolizes good luck and prosperity in Chinese (and other East Asian) cultures.

Out first attempt – the libre barcode font

Our first effort to create the in-store barcode was using the libre barcode font from Google. Unfortunately, we had limited success which would have led to problems at the tills. We needed a solution that worked every time and could also be sent in the automated email received by all entrants.

We needed to create an integrated solution that would enable each of the discount codes converted on the fly to barcode images.

JsBarcode to the rescue

Thankfully at the eleventh hour a solution was found (for the more technically minded readers, we chose the JsBarcode v3 package, the main advantage of the package is that barcodes are drawn in SVG from the number, and therefore does not use an image file).

Relieved at finding a solution, the promotion launched in both French and English to great acclaim. As entry is strictly by invite, I’ve recorded a quick video below for you to see the promotion in action. 

P.s. You may wonder why there is a math’s question in the entry form. That’s because in Canada there are all sorts of legal restrictions around promotions with a chance element, but by introducing a skill question, the promotion falls outside of these restrictions. (Promotion rules around the world are definitely something for another article).

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