Watching March Madness this past March, you witnessed not only a lot of great basketball, but you witnessed QR Code technology firmly showcased in pop culture, unwavering on TV screens and game coverage across the country. Sure, the common man has seen QR Codes and is aware of them, but during each game there was a reminder from the CBS family carrying the games across channels: download our CBS app using a QR Code. The code was then presented on the screen, beckoning viewers to take out their phones and utilize the code to get live stats, supplemental coverage, and behind-the-scenes reporting. Every single game, multiple times a game: “Use this QR Code”.
Fertile Ground for Growth
QR Codes are not only back – bigger and better, if you will – but they are mainstream, and becoming increasingly utilized by the day. They are finally getting their time to shine here in the US first because they were (and are) able to provide solutions to real needs during the pandemic, and now are able to provide entertainment, insight, information, and so much more… all right from your smartphone.
Like a flower, the technology has blossomed from auto dealerships to mom-and-pop shops, CBS to your favorite diner. Years ago, when QR Codes first made their appearance, the use case wilted – whether due to those not knowing how to cultivate, or the timing being wrong leading to a ‘dry season’. Those times are long behind us now as the environment – saturated by the pandemic and the need for contactless transactions – is absolutely perfect for QR Codes to bloom.
Improved Accessibility, Practical Technology
The growth and use of QR Codes are further fertilized by the developing technology itself – QR code readers are now universally being built into mobile device by the manufacturer, so no separate app to download. This technology is native to a user base that, in many ways, has grown up with smartphones and QR Codes themselves – they’ve grown and utilized the internet just as the internet has simultaneously had an always improving mobile web experience. Of course there are newer, sexier technologies like NFC tags and beacons, but the QR code remains incredibly ubiquitous and practical, as it doesn’t require any special encoding or physical tags or additional devices, and can be displayed both physically on printed media, as well as television and digital media – it’s readily available from your main street general store to Fortune 500 enterprises alike.
A Better Use Case
In the early 2010s, marketers were printing QR codes on direct mailers, billboards, in-store displays, and all means of product packaging. The codes needed a real need in order to thrive, something more than a coupon or additional details – back then, there was no real or compelling reason to scan a QR Code. So why now? Why are they becoming mainstream? Simple: they provide answers and solutions during the pandemic, with current technology and a user base that is showing the world that QR codes are only just getting started: contactless payment, touchless shopping, digital menus, self-serve food ordering, and it doesn’t stop there.
Shows like ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘The Today Show’ display QR codes on-screen when they do their “Deals” segments to give users an easy way to transition from the program to the purchase pages for the products they review on the show. This, much like the CBS March Madness codes, make for a very simple and efficient way to tie together media and eCommerce.
Instagram launched a QR code generator that directs users and customers to a business or brand’s profile. From there they can see updated store details (like hours, location) and make purchases or returns. In the fall, voter registration was encouraged and enabled to communities using QR codes. Towards the end of 2020, CVS became the first national retailer to offer support for PayPal and Venmo QR codes as a form of touch-free payment at checkout. And yes, here in spring 2021 as the vaccine is rolling out, you’ll see TV commercials and flyers that have QR Codes for not only registering for a shot, but also providing health information, guidance, and a means of educating the population.
QR stands for ‘quick response’ and one thing is for certain: the return of QR Codes to the spotlight will be anything but quick. They are firmly mainstream, here for the future and here to stay.
This blog is the final in our series, focusing on how QR codes are becoming an increasingly vital part of our daily lives. Given the novel coronavirus, we’ll continue to see QR code use surge in 2021 in healthcare – from patient wristbands to (potentially!) traveler’s vaccine passports.
QR code’s involvement in healthcare is perhaps the most important and evolving sector at the moment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been suggested that QR codes “will be one of the biggest contributors to healthcare” and that numerous hospitals around the country have already developed QR codes in their algorithms. For example, QR codes can be added onto a patient’s wristband, and with a single scan, the doctor can immediately access up-to-date information about the patient (medication prescribed, timings of medication, list of allergies, etc.). QR codes at hospitals also provides a smooth checkout experience for both the patient and the hospital, keeping operations running smoothly and efficiently.
This idea is further highlighted by author Shailendra Sinhasane in her blog post entitled, “How Healthcare Providers are Using QR Codes to Enhance Patient Outcomes”. Sinhasane informs readers that QR codes, “can reduce medical errors, enhance administration, save time and allow doctors to concentrate on their patients.” Sinhasane also highlights the versatility of the QR code throughout the healthcare sector, most notably within: healthcare marketing, patient identity management, patient health/medical information, medical equipment information, and drug safety.
The adoption of QR codes to streamline a hospitals workflow, improve patient outcome, and save time/cost is a no-brainer, one which will be seen in large proportions in 2021.
 Choudhary, Sneh Ratna. “Why 2021 Is the Year of QR Codes.” Beaconstac RSS, 24 Dec. 2020, blog.beaconstac.com/2019/02/why-2019-is-the-year-of-qr-codes/.
 Sinhasane , Shailendra. “How Healthcare Providers Are Using QR Codes to Enhance Patient Outcomes?” Mobisoft Infotech, 25 Nov. 2020, mobisoftinfotech.com/resources/blog/qr-codes-to-enhance-patient-outcome/.
This blog is the second of three in a series that focuses on how QR codes are becoming more immersed in our lives and in our actions. After the year of the pandemic, we’ll continue to see QR code use surge in 2021. Buying a new car? You may lean more on a QR code – and less on a salesperson – at the start of your shopping experience.
Circling back to our previous article, QR codes can be used by car dealerships to make the overall buying experience for the consumer much less stressful. Those long sheets of paper containing the vehicles’ information displayed on a side window is difficult to understand and is almost impossible to compare with other vehicles; the consumer is left struggling to remember which information applies to which vehicle. QR codes can easily rectify this issue. By simply placing QR codes on the vehicles, customers and sales representatives alike can scan the code to quickly get all of the relevant information about the car, allowing for easy comparison shopping. Furthermore, the author suggests that dynamic QR codes can be implemented by car dealerships to allow for regular updates regarding the vehicle information.
Businesses are certainly already taking advantage of the applicability of QR codes in the automotive inventory merchandising sector. One company, DealerCarSearch, enables car dealerships to easily display an informational QR code on any vehicle’s window as a sticker. According to their website, “The QR Code links shoppers directly to the Vehicle Detail Page on your website. This hi-tech feature converts after hours lot walkers and window shoppers into solid leads for your dealership when your Dealership is closed.” This concept can be taken even further, with the possibility of dealerships advertising particular vehicles in newspapers, magazines, and even social media all through a QR code.
QR Codes – https://www.dealercarsearch.com/qr-codes-for-car-dealers.aspx
Choudhary, Sneh Ratna. “Why 2021 Is the Year of QR Codes.” Beaconstac RSS, 24 Dec. 2020, blog.beaconstac.com/2019/02/why-2019-is-the-year-of-qr-codes/.
With everything the pandemic brought to 2020, the year was a spotlight shining brightly on how touch-free solutions and QR Codes are to be a major part of not just our dining or shopping experience, but are fully a part of lives today, tomorrow, and well into the future.
We fully expect see a massive surge of QR code use into 2021. This blog is the first of three in a series which will focus on how QR codes will continue to develop and grow in the future.
When shopping, product packaging is a crucial aspect of consumer decision-making. In fact, in her article “Why 2021 is the year of QR codes” author Sneh Ratna Choudhary shares with readers that approximately 1/3rd of consumer decision making when shopping is solely based on a product’s packaging. Choudhary further reiterates this point with the realization that QR codes are the answer to the ever-present marketing problem of creating a minimalistic yet aesthetically pleasing design. The author also touches on QR codes being required with GMO products in the U.S.; supplying the consumer with an easy way to learn more about the ingredients within the product.
Today’s consumer is not only concerned about ingredients in GMO products, however. According to a 2020 consumer behavior report published by Deloitte, current and future consumers will most likely be making purchasing decisions based on a newly understood set of parameters, including: nutritional awareness, sustainability, and social responsibility. In his article titled “QR Codes on Food: How QR Code Food Uses Engage Customers”, the author addresses these three purchasing parameters and how QR codes can be effectively implemented with each. Firstly, the author highlights that only about one of every 3 people check the nutritional labels on the packaged food they eat, even though approximately 63% of the population want to eat healthy “most or all of the time”. Scott outlines that providing nutritional information via QR code, something that subsequently isn’t restricted by the space on product packaging, allows manufacturers the ability to add a more detailed set of information that is invaluable to consumers. Scott urges manufacturers to take advantage of the greater flexibility with the QR code, as consumers can be made easily aware of allergy information, social responsibility initiatives, instructions, sustainability certifications, and more with a simple scan. This also opens the door for the possibilities of food traceability. As the author outlines, “a running account of where [a product] originated, was manufactured, and was distributed along with relevant information about those production, manufacturing, and distribution facilities [can all be traced using a QR code]. Scott further emphasizes that QR code traceability can also take into account the present status of products, such as product recalls, updates regarding production facilities/fulfillment centers, and any other relevant information in regards to the product’s present supply chain status.
It is clear that the use of the QR code will continue to grow exponentially into 2021, with QR code food labels just one of many versatile uses of the technology.
Choudhary, Sneh Ratna. “Why 2021 Is the Year of QR Codes.” Beaconstac RSS, 24 Dec. 2020, blog.beaconstac.com/2019/02/why-2019-is-the-year-of-qr-codes/.
Scott. “QR Codes on Food: How QR Code Food Uses Engage Customers.” SproutQR, SproutQR, Inc., 1 Sept. 2020, www.sproutqr.com/blog/qr-code-food.
The global pandemic has forced us all to take safety precautions and we know that masks, gloves, and social distancing are ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and to maximize the safety of ourselves and those around us. As businesses continue with cautious re-openings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they are determining best practices for how to do so in a way that allows them to get back to some level of normalcy while giving their employees and customers peace of mind.
The silver lining in all of this is that there are several tactics which have now become staples of this current daily life that will presumably stay with us even beyond the pandemic.
One of the additions to life as we know it – which is really in its own revitalization of sorts – is QR codes at restaurants and eateries for contactless paying and ordering.
Contactless ordering and payment have become not only a ‘nice to have’ in restaurants but have taken hold as a must-have during these times. Independent establishments, chains, and even small venues have upgraded their payment systems to allow QR code functionality to bring food service to customers with limited physical exchange to employees and staff.
While going out to eat used bring about putting the phones down to enjoy each other’s company, now the phone is an integral component to a safer dining experience – and that may never change. Using a photo, enabling a QR code reader, and paying electronically are eliminating shared menus, shared bills, and – yes – shared germs.
So how does this all work?
When you arrive at the restaurant, you’ll certainly notice face masks and plastic shields protecting the host stand and other diners. At your table you will notice a (typically) laminated sheet or stand that has instructions directing you to use the QR code positioned front and center on it. When that QR code is simply scanned using your smartphone’s camera, a link will open to the restaurant’s menu pages.
QR codes have had widespread use for many years now but are seeing a resurgence especially as the CDC has recommended that restaurants, eateries, and bars use digital menus in limited the spread of the coronavirus. Many restaurants in larger cities had already been looking into touchless menu technology before the pandemic struck – and many patrons love the simplicity and ease of access – so the pandemic ushered the change along much quicker.
Even beyond the benefits of QR code menus for health and safety, there are additional advantages that come from applying the technology in restaurants.
Digital menus that utilize QR codes offer more flexibility and organization than a paper menu. The staff can quickly and easily update the digital menu to adjust items (such as add a dish, or remove one that’s sold out) and with some programs a restaurant could review and analyze data (such as what dish is most popular).
QR codes menus can have visuals, graphics, and video clips – which may be more appealing than the static photos on a paper menu. In a world where we love our Instagram and Facebook videos and gifs, applying that same thought to creative on a digital menu can be a huge hit. QR codes can also enable promotions, specials, and coupons right from the system.
The environmental impact is great as well as restauranteurs who are going to digital menus are not only reducing costs for themselves, but they are reducing waste!
With all of the positives in this silver lining, restaurant owners, industry experts, and marketers firmly believe that digital menus – and the QR codes that enable them – are here to stay. Smartphones are already part of our everyday routines, and now they will be fully engrained in our dining experiences as well.
We all want to be safe and we all want to get back to some level of normal. That said, long after a vaccine comes along the QR codes and digital menus will remain. They make contactless ordering and payment that much safer, quicker, and easier. The future of dining is here to stay.