BLE beacons, QR codes and NFC – A unified approach to boost millennial engagement
Sneh Ratna Choudhary
Last Updated:  November 17, 2023
2018 was the banner year for proximity marketing solutions like Bluetooth beacons and QR codes. While Tommy Hilfiger experimented with Bluetooth-tagged clothing, small business retailers used beacons to design experiences similar to Amazon Go. Not just that, Snapchat launched QR based Snapcodes, and Instagram, Amazon, and Google caught up. Clearly, as 2018 has come to an end and we move into 2019, the best way ahead is to combine the best proximity marketing technologies. Beacons, QR codes and NFC are powerful alone but better together.
NFC, QR and beacons improve passenger experience at Bologna Airport
Nedap designed the MACE solution to get rid of pesky physical cards at access points. Their solution comprises a MACE reader which serves as a BLE beacon, an NFC reader and a QR code scanner. There’s a growing shift from physical access cards since using a smartphone to gain access is very useful when a company wants to give access or revoke it for employees or visitors.
When a company wants to grant access to someone, they can do so using QR, NFC or beacons which sends them a notification with a link to download the app and their verification code. Once someone has the app installed, they can resort to using their smartphone to gain access. The reason the three-pronged approach is so powerful is that only the newer iPhones support NFC natively. So, depending on the native capabilities, smartphones can use either NFC or QR or BLE beacons to gain access.
QR, NFC and beacons make “invisible payments” a reality
Mobile wallets have evolved to incorporate scan-and-go technology using QR codes that require no conscious interaction between the consumer and the retailer. BLE beacons can take such ‘invisible payments’ a step further as they allow retailers to monitor consumer activity through their connected devices. The way consumers pay in-store is also about to get a whole lot safer with the advent of tokenization technology. Payment tokenization enables every customer to have a unique payment token that will be restricted to a specific merchant, payment type or device. This will ultimately decrease the number of card-on-file fraud and enhance in-store payment security.
Carnival Corporation’s Ocean Medallion is powered by NFC and BLE
Carnival Corporation, a cruise operator, has patented its product Ocean Medallion, a wearable device that combines NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy to provide a plethora of services to their passengers like access control, payment options, and contextual information. The Ocean Medallion allows passengers to access their rooms without a card or a key.
BLE beacons, QR and NFC – The rise of connected marketing
Big brands and SMBs alike have come to terms with the fact that if they want to thrive, millennials and Gen X cannot be left out of their target audience. Snapchat’s Snapcodes are a classic case of that. Earlier, Snapchat allowed QR codes to be created that would allow users to share them with their friends so that they could quickly add them on Snapchat. Snapcodes have evolved to allow users to create Snapcodes to link it to their website as well. As soon as you scan a Snapcode, it will open in the Snapchat app. Amazon’s Smilecodes, Spotify codes and Coca Cola’s Sip and Scan have all catered to the smartphone culture that has brewing over the last decade.
BLE beacons, QR codes and NFC offer a cost-effective way for retailers to provide a seamless, perhaps even cashierless, shopping experience that can only make way for fully automated retail stores that can withstand the competition from the e-commerce industry.