Depending on what you read, the future of QR codes seems to be a mixed bag. The thoughts on QR Codes are influenced by where in the world the QR codes are used as different countries have differing appetites for the technology.
As noted by PYMNTS.com, the QR code has gotten a lot of attention recently for use as a digital payment, though such attention has been – for now – limited outside of Asia. EMVCo, the global technical body that manages QR Code payment specifications, has introduced the QR Payment Mark, meant to “promote global interoperability across EMV QR Code payments.” The QR Payment Mark will inform consumers that a particular merchant uses a digital payments application. In India, QR Codes have seen great momentum as officials work to move toward a cash-free society. India has launched the BharatQR, a digital payments tool back by Visa, Mastercard, and the National Payments Corporation of India. It has also been reported that the most successful deployments of QR Code-based payments have occurred in China where QR Code transaction have surpassed cash and cards.
Innovation Enterprise, however, writes about how infrequently QR Codes are used, especially here in the States. They note that while most people “would be able to recognize one if they saw it . . . the number of people that have actually used them is small, with even fewer using them with any regularity.”
Our thoughts? The applications of QR Codes can certainly be recognized by many, and the uses and utility are continuing to grow, develop, and emerge. Some argue that the QR Code hasn’t stood out to marketing teams as a ‘must’ in a singular-use case, but the reality is that QR Codes should be part of a marketing plan when there is a clear benefit to connecting online and offline media, and when your target audiences will likely understand how to interact with them (e.g. are you marketing to millennials or senior citizens).
A number of years ago at the dawn of the smartphone era many marketers tried and failed to use QR codes in marketing campaigns. In many cases, these were poorly implemented efforts with common mistakes that doomed their efforts to failure.
As more and more marketing initiatives find success – such as SnapChat’s Snapcodes or Starbucks having customers scan codes from cups – businesses and brands will see more of the upside. QR Codes now are providing a one-way transaction, in directing users to information or content, but they are not – yet – collecting information. In an age where marketing is driven by ton of data, this will be the next big piece of the puzzle for QR Codes to explore and develop.
An area where QR codes are appear to be gaining momentum, but that are less publicly visible, are in areas related to industrial use and logistics, such as information access and inventory control. It may not be sexy, but it’s practical and can carry significant benefits to organizations that want to improve efficiency in their operations by merging cloud-based data with their real-world products and processes. Ultimately, regardless of how or where QR codes are being used, their utility ultimately depends on thoughtful implementation. Following established QR Code best practices will improve the chances that they are utilized as intended, while also providing an optimal experience for your users.