UNFI to Offer Retailers Smart Shelf Tags to Engage Consumers, Improve Transparency, Drive Purchase Decisions

ELi QR codes make it possible to display rich content that can engage and educate shoppers to increase sales and build brand loyalty.

Woman scanning ELI Code at natural food store.
A Smart Shelf Tag in use. Image courtesy of Cornerstone for Natural.

Providence, RI—United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) announced an agreement with Cornerstone for Natural to bring the company’s Smart Shelf Tag program to UNFI’s suppliers and retailers. Smart Shelf Tags are retail shelf tags augmented with ELi QR Codes. The tags are based on QR code technology and can be read natively by most smartphones without requiring an app. The codes make it possible to display richcontent that can engage and educate shoppers to increase sales and build brand loyalty.

UNFI shared that, as consumer demand for product information and insights grows, the company is working to increase access to additional information and provide product transparency on the shelf. Most in-store shoppers consult their mobile phones about products, and Smart Shelf Tags engage shoppers with targeted content direct from suppliers while they’re physically shopping in the grocery aisle. The tags also work to increase product transparency, create a touchpoint between suppliers and shoppers, and can help grocery retailers build consumer loyalty and trust.

UNFI reported that, while the ELi QR Codes used on Smart Shelf Tags look like QR codes, they are more secure. They provide a scannable code, and incorporate the back-end content to which users are directed. The content for an ELi QR Code is sourced from the supplier, and automatically populates for each individual UPC.

ELi QR Code content may include:

  • promotional offers
  • nutrition and allergen information
  • testimonials
  • traceability information
  • brand stories
  • videos
  • images.

An upside for retailers is that they never have to source, manage, or update content, and the codes are automatically printed on the tags.

Cornerstone has built more than 120,000 ELi QR Codes, including thousands from prominent consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands and new and emerging brands alike.

“UNFI is excited to enable better transparency and communication between our suppliers, retailers, and shoppers,” said John Raiche, Executive Vice President of Supplier Services & Merchandising at UNFI, in the release. “Consumers have shown that they care about the values and beliefs of the brands they purchase, and with Smart Shelf Tags, suppliers can communicate directly with shoppers about their products and tell the stories behind their brands.”

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David Williams, Cornerstone’s EVP of Business Development, added, “Retail is changing, and we need to change with it. Retailers and brands need to work together to engage and educate their shoppers and our smart shelf tags provide this unique opportunity, helping with decision-making at a key point of purchase in the store.”