Let’s be honest, QR codes were never a thing. Over the years, several attempts were made to use them to offer greater utility and drive adoption among consumers, but nothing ever came of it. Well, until now that is.
Since the rise of the pandemic, both brands and retailers have been looking to create more personalized yet contactless experiences for driving sales both in-store and online.
And it’s been working.
QR codes are now being utilized in major retail hubs like Hudson Yards and even by the smallest of retailers. According to Modern Retail, companies like Seek, who specialize in augmented reality and QR solutions, have seen a 600 percent increase in demand since the rise of the pandemic. This increase comes as retail brands such as Dressbarn, Puma and Sperry have embraced QR codes in the past three months along with mobile wallet providers such as PayPal and Apple.
Dressbarn, for one, recently implemented QR codes in a very unconventional way. The retailer partnered up with Happy Returns to create a seamless and touch-free experience for making returns.
“Happy Returns is a natural fit for our eCommerce-first strategy,” said Dressbarn CEO, Shayan Zadeh. “Having enjoyed our physical stores for decades, our shoppers are accustomed to the convenience of in-person returns. To meet these customer expectations while also growing our online presence, Happy Returns’ network provides Dressbarn shoppers with the accessibility of a physical drop-off location while still maintaining a contactless experience.”
And consumers seem to like it. Within the first month of the new partnership, Dressbarn saw 75 percent of returns being made with QR codes.
On the other hand, Hudson Yards is now allowing customers to navigate its sprawling shopping space with ease by enabling them to scan QR codes on digital kiosks located throughout the mall without needing to touch a thing.
Then there’s Amazon. In June, the eCommerce giant announced that it would launch smart shopping carts that track items that shoppers add to their carts and automatically charge them when grocery bags are removed, allowing shoppers to skip the checkout line entirely. The tech involves using QR codes, which enables shoppers to sign out of a shopping cart or add items to their Alexa shopping lists.
But the utility of QR codes extends far beyond navigating a mall, returning unwanted items or powering the next generation of shopping carts. Retailers can implement the much-coveted buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) offering or even use them for offering curbside pickup.
Take it a step further and think about bringing traditional gift cards, coupons and loyalty programs to QR codes. Companies like Popwallet, a mobile wallet customer experience platform, are enabling brands and retailers to incorporate such features, through the mobile wallet.
The benefits of unlocking discounts, promotions and loyalty programs within the mobile wallet are seemingly endless. Retailers can choose to track their digital offering’s success and if they choose to opt for a QR code as opposed to a traditional bar code, they can then promote that QR code in any of their digital campaigns or even snail mail.
Once a customer scans that discount offer, they are then prompted to save a mobile wallet card. The customer can then present that card the next time they are in-store and redeem it.
But what if they forget about that card?
They won’t. Thanks to location-based notifications, once the customer is near the retailer, the customer can be reminded of the offer they have saved, which ultimately leads to an increase in redemption rates.
There’s also the option to remind customers about an offering based on time. So, if the offering is about to expire, shoppers can be reminded to utilize the offer before it’s gone!
But there’s more. Once a customer saves that initial deal, the brand or retailer now has established a one-to-one, on-going and direct channel with that person. Offers can then be updated after redemption, enticing the customer to once again shop with the same brand or retailer, which prompts repeat purchases.
With growth in interest in using QR codes and the demand for contactless experiences, especially while in-store, will QR codes be the solution to fixing all the challenges facing retailers today? Probably not, but it surely can help offer a safer and faster shopping experience.