Editor’s Note: This blog post has been updated on September 6, 2019 to reflect the latest changes.
Despite having been around for decades, QR codes never became the revolutionary marketing strategy that businesses and marketers had hoped.
But, 2017’s iOS 11 update changed that. Apple’s stealth update that allows QR codes to be scanned directly through the camera app is game-changing. Adding the QR code feature on the control setting was pure genius. Even the latest Android smartphones have made QR code scanning a native feature.
While QR codes are extremely widespread, you may still want to consider some alternatives to the technology for various reasons. Here are some of the best QR code alternatives in 2019 –
NFC technology: Just like QR codes. NFC tags do not require an app to read. iPhone XS, XS Max and XR can natively read third-party NFC tags. Older models of iPhone need an app. Most Android phones can also natively read an NFC tag.
Beacon technology: Beacons are the best way to deliver a fantastic native app experience. Once you come into the range of a beacon, the beacon is able to trigger a notification to your smartphone and wake up your beacon-aware app.
QR codes can also increase post-purchase engagement by allowing customers to re-order the product or link to a video tutorial on how to use the product effectively. QR codes can also act as effective lead magnets by getting consumers to sign up for loyalty plans or subscribing to the newsletter or getting valuable feedback.
QR codes are ubiquitous in China. In an attempt to penetrate the smartphone market in China, the iOS 11 update inadvertently also opened up new avenues for global markets. Inspired by China, South Korea has also witnessed a staggering increase in the number of QR codes scans. India and markets in the US have also adopted QR codes to make payments and make shopping a seamless experience.
And it doesn’t end there. Alipay’s partnership with digital wallets in Europe will also bring QR Code payments to the continent. Ghana, Russia, Sri Lanka have also announced a QR code payment technology which will be rolled out soon.
The popularity of QR codes can also be attributed to increased consumer awareness. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram have all come up with QR codes that allow users to follow accounts by scanning the code.
QR codes at the store to curate an experiential shopping experience
QR codes can be used at the store level to give shoppers experiential choices. Nike’s Flagship store called House of Innovation 000 uses QR codes all throughout the store to give Nike Plus Members with the Nike app a truly unique experience. Nike Plus Unlocks upon entering a store rewards members. The flagship store also has ‘Scan to Try’ wherein members can scan mannequins and have store assistants bring them the right size and color to the fitting rooms. If consumers don’t have the Nike app, they can also scan the QR codes on the walls to download the Nike app.
Nike Instant Checkout also uses codes to allow members to skip the long checkout line and checkout from the Nike App. These Instant Checkout stations are positioned throughout the store.
According to research by The Paper Worker, 1/3rd of consumer decision-making is purely based on a product’s packaging. Creating packaging that is appealing is even harder when you factor in millennials that always steer towards aesthetically pleasing and minimalistic design. QR codes are the answer to this struggle.
Gone are the days of black and white QR codes. QR codes can now be customized with logos, colors and different shapes to attract consumers. This is very useful in that it allows consumers to know exactly what they’re scanning as well.
Businesses don’t need to keep swapping out QR codes to display different offers either. Static QR codes have given way to dynamic QR codes which explains why QR codes have been cropping up on digital billboards.
Digital marketing gained traction for one very important reason: Tracking performance metrics. Something that was impossible with traditional forms of marketing. But, with QR codes, marketers can finally understand which marketing campaigns are performing well based on the number of scans.
Just like other traditional marketing channels, QR codes help analyze engagement and conversion rates when placed on direct mail. Consumers who have scanned the QR code can also be retargeted online on Google and Facebook. Inkit, an automated direct mail marketing company, has come up with a few guidelines on how you can maximize your ROI with QR codes on direct mail.
The cost of running a digital or traditional marketing campaign can be quite steep without having any measurable results. That is why QR codes have gained so much popularity. Not only are they cost-effective, but they are also extremely easy to deploy.
You can use Beaconstac’s QR code generator and add a logo to create your QR codes. Once you are done customizing it, you can either download it or embed it on your site. It’s easy. It’s free and there are unlimited scans. To track analytics and fine-tune campaigns in real-time, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial.
In April of 2019, Puma launched their LQD CELL Origin AR shoes. These shoes are covered in QR codes. When you scan the QR Codes using the Puma app, you can witness incredibly cool effects. You can make your LQD CELL explode, play games within the app and score points to get on the leaderboard.
IKEA’s direct mailers also include a QR code so that users can view the object in their space through the app.
If you have a marker, you can simply upload it as a logo to the QR code on the generator and create an AR experience.
But what if you’re not well-versed with markers? Seek is the answer. Seek delivers AR through a simple QR Code. You can have a Tesla in your driveway. A Fortnite dancer in your living room. Or, see how the Amazon Echo looks like in your kitchen.
The QR code market is on a steep rise. According to Juniper Research, by 2022, 5.3 billion QR code coupons will be redeemed by smartphones and 1 billion smartphones will access QR codes.
Marketers can take a two-pronged approach to maximize their ROI with QR codes. One at a store level to display general offers or to leverage national holidays and the other at a product level to create interactive products.