How good is the GoScan app? A marketer’s independent analysis

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 10th April 2013

Recently Australian Food News reported the launch by barcode company GS1 of its own mobile phone app, GoScan, designed to let consumers access extra information about products. The GoScan iPhone app allows consumers to rapidly and easily access trustworthy information about a product.

Jay Dillon, an independent marketing consultant, has written a guide for food marketers on how best to use the app. Mr Dillon told Australian Food News there are plenty of apps in the market that can read barcodes and provide extra information to consumers, but the GoScan app’s key difference is the provision of this information by the food manufacturers themselves.

“This information goes beyond your standard ingredients and nutrition list to include allergens, storage and preparation advice, sustainability, country of origin and other company information,” Mr Dillon said.

Product data to grow

Mr Dillon told Australian Food News that the current information available on the app is limited.

“It appears that this launch of the app is very much a Stage One,” Mr Dillon said. “A lot of the data for products appears to be that which GS1 have as part of administering barcode numbers in Australia,” he added.

Responding to Mr Dillon’s comments, a spokesperson for GS1 admitted that the information available through the app was limited so far. “We are working with a large number of brand owners that have not populated their data (including retailers) and will expect to see the data growing over time,” the GS1 spokesperson said.

“Consumers are able to ‘request data’ when a product scanned is not found, and this data is being used now to approach brand owners based on consumer preferences and priorities,” GS1’s spokesperson added.

‘Sustainability’ marketing opportunities

According to Mr Dillon, the sustainability information section of the app offers one of its greatest opportunities, but this potential has not yet been fully realised.

“It is unfortunate that the sustainability section seems to be in ‘coming soon’ mode, as I feel this section offers one of the greatest opportunities,” said Mr Dillon. “It should be noted that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) have their own app to assist consumers to select certified seafood products, and I think it is only a matter of time before an update of the GoScan app arrives that includes data from organisations like MSC, Australian Organic (previously Biological Farmers’ Association) and other certifiers,” he said.

“The brands jump through a lot of hoops to be certified by these bodies and they should be given a chance to promote it,” Mr Dillon added.

Certification data available – new opportunities

GS1 said that there were a number of enhancements for the GoScan app that were currently being developed. “Certification data is currently being provided by a number of organisations, including the National Heart Foundation, the Coeliac Society, the Glycaemic Index Foundation and the Healthy Kids Association,” said the GS1 spokesperson.

‘How to’ videos – add-on opportunities

The GoScan app currently provides food companies and marketers with a number of opportunities to add links to external web pages, according to Mr Dillon.

“The other advantage of having an app that brand owners have direct access to is that it provides a stage for innovation,” said Mr Dillon. “I imagine the more creative brands going beyond sending the consumer to their current website and instead developing mobile-device-ready pages offering ‘how to’ videos and demonstrations of product provenance,” he said.

Mr Dillon said his research on the app suggested that each brand owner would be able to provide a banner image “that could be used freely for competitions and promotions”, but that this didn’t appear to have been included in the original launch. According to GS1, this feature, along with other digital marketing tools, will be available in an update scheduled for 1 July 2013.

Accessing GoScan from other phones

In his analysis of the GoScan app, Mr Dillon suggests that it was likely GS1 was already developing a version of the app for Android mobile phone devices. GS1 confirmed that the development of an Android version of the app was a high priority.

“The first priority now is to develop an Android version, as many consumers on this platform are asking for it,” said a GS1 spokesperson in response.

Accessibility features

Mr Dillon said he had difficulty finding how to turn on the app’s promised ‘accessibility features’, namely the feature that reads product data out for the visually impaired.

GS1 said that these features can be accessed through the settings on the user’s mobile phone itself (rather than from within the app). To turn on the voice over feature for the app, said GS1, users should go to the ‘settings’ area on their phone, select ‘general’ and then ‘accessibility’. In this section, users should be able to turn on the voice over feature for the app.

Development opportunties

Mr Dillon said the app has great potential, especially given the big industry organisations that have contributed to its development, such as the Australian Food and Grocery Council and various Australian universities. “But until a big push is made to get all Australian brands on-board, and the development team start thinking outside the box in terms of consumer needs and functionality, I fear it may end up as part of the ‘forgotten apps’ group that exist to the far right of each person’s app screen,” he said.

Jay Dillon’s GoScan app guide for food marketers is available here. Mr Dillon is an inbound marketing consultant.

GoScan has potential says marketing expert