Customer experience, both offline and online, has fast become a top differentiator for businesses of all sizes. According to a Walker report, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the primary brand differentiator. With that in mind, businesses are drifting towards connecting offline and online experience with technologies such as NFC and QR codes.
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Given what both these above-mentioned technologies are capable of doing, choosing between them can be daunting. Both help deliver content or initiate action without an app. To help you make a faster decision, let’s dive deeper into comparing the two technologies based on their use case, the scale of your business and other factors.
QR code vs NFC tags: Factors that play a key role in your decision-making process
Choosing between QR codes and NFC tags can be tricky. Businesses should consider a few factors such as:
OS dominating your audience segment
The iPhone camera app has native QR code scanning capabilities. However, it requires a third-party application for NFC use-cases. Having said that, if a location is dominated by iPhone users, QR codes are a viable solution.
On the other hand, Android phones not only have in-built NFC but also supports QR code scanning using the camera app. Therefore, if the target geography is dominated by Android users businesses can opt for a combination of both, QR codes and NFC.
The age demographics play an important role. Baby Boomers make up half of the US population. They spend 27 hours per week online catching up with new technologies. Due to browsers like Samsung, Chrome, and Xiaomi, and apps like Pinterest, Google Pay, and Amazon, this age group is used to scanning QR codes, but NFC might not be a viable option for this segment.
The tech-savvy millennials are well-versed with both the technologies. They already use NFC and QR codes for payment transactions and accessing information. Therefore, marketers can target this age group with both QR codes and NFC.
On the other hand, Gen-Z is always looking for consumer experiences driven by technology. They engage with businesses that deploy innovative ways of interacting with consumers. Marketers can intrigue them using NFC.
Marketing campaigns that target a mix of different age groups can customize marketing messages with QR codes or NFC tags based on the target demography.
Cost to the company
QR code campaigns can be tested with a free online QR code generator, whereas one has to buy an NFC tag to test it. Businesses should, therefore, decide based on the scale of marketing campaigns.
Large scale campaigns can leverage QR codes. It is commercially viable to print QR codes in bulk than to buy NFC tags for each marketing poster you print.
A premium subscription from a QR code generator can offer businesses the ability to create static and dynamic QR codes in bulk. Design core elements (position markers, eyes, patterns) and customize QR codes by adding colors, logo, and background images that match branding guidelines.
On the other hand, businesses need to buy NFC hardware with a premium platform subscription to utilize NFC as a marketing channel. A premium subscription enables businesses to create, manage, and track marketing campaigns.
Niche marketing campaigns that target smaller customer segments can differentiate themselves with NFC. This could help them capture high intent leads that interact with marketing campaigns to gain in-depth information about products and services.
Large enterprises can opt for a combination of NFC tags and QR codes. Enterprise marketing campaigns can differentiate their products and gain a competitive edge using this lethal combination of QR codes and NFC. As mentioned in the earlier section they can deploy both of these technologies depending on the target consumer demography.
From adding a logo and colors, to placing background images, QR codes can be aligned with branding guidelines of the business. They can modify core elements such as position markers, patterns, eye color, and shape. These options help create QR codes that are unique to your business.
Point of Interaction
The point of interaction with a marketing campaign is an important factor. Billboards and banners are typically above ground and away from the physical reach of consumers, whereas, indoor points of sales, shelf-talkers, or transit posters are in close proximity.
If your marketing instrument is way above the ground like billboards and banners then QR codes are a viable alternative. Because these can be scanned from a distance.
While using close proximity methods such as shelf-talkers or indoor displays businesses have the option between QR codes and NFC. Since NFC tags work only when tapped by a smartphone, marketers must ensure that consumers are able to interact with it easily.
Let your use-case drive the decision of using QR codes vs NFC
On the product
For a fast-moving product, QR codes are ideal. This is because businesses can create QR codes in bulk for every batch they ship.
However, durable products such as laptops, television sets, air-conditioners, etc. can be embedded with an NFC tag. Businesses can collect post-purchase feedback, share product manuals, essential upgrades, and steps for care regularly.
The packaging is an integral part of a product. But, it is also the first thing to be discarded. Hence, it makes sense to use QR codes on packaging. These can be used for sharing promotional offers or special features that differentiate them.
Product manuals, brochures, posters, business cards, and flyers can feature a customized QR code to offer additional content. These QR codes could link to tutorials, related videos, promotional messages, and product pairing suggestions.
Other marketing materials like T-shirts, mugs, and keychains could be tagged with NFC stickers that entice consumers to interact with brand content and build a long-lived positive relationship.
Out-Of-Home advertising mediums such as banners and billboards are usually not in the physical reach of consumers. QR codes optimized to the size of billboards and the distance of consumers are an effective way to engage consumers. It increases the chances of contact with an advertisement to convert into sales by redirecting the consumer to the business’ website or landing page instantly.
The ideal ratio between the QR code size and the consumer is 1:10. Meaning that a 1 inch QR code can be scanned from a maximum distance of 10 inches.
QR code size formula:
Minimum QR code size required = Scanning Distance/10
A business using retail advertising, shelf-talkers, or point of sale displays can employ NFC tags. NFC tags on shelf-talkers engage consumers with the brand. Kraft Foods Group, an American grocery manufacturing, and processing conglomerate did an NFC pilot like that.
NFC tags were placed in front of Kraft cheese and Nabisco shelves in select grocery stores. The shelf-takers encouraged consumers to tap their smartphones and get weekly updated recipes, download the i-Food Assistant app or share it on social media.
In a pilot that lasted for a month, the time consumers spent engaging with the brand was 35 seconds higher than the average 10-12 seconds they spend self-choosing a product. The results from this pilot found that the engagement of consumers with the NFC tag was 12 times that of QR codes in use already.
Why QR codes?
Consumers are aware of QR codes. More than 9 million households scanned a QR code on their smartphones in 2018. Scanning a QR code is an inbuilt function in most native camera apps. Popular apps such as Amazon, Snapchat offer users the ability to scan QR codes at will.
Diversity of usage
QR Codes can be linked to almost every marketing asset or lead magnet – business websites, custom landing pages, emails, calls, SMS, app link pages, social media profiles, or product PDFs to QR Codes. They can also be used to connect to a WiFi network.
For example, a static social media QR Code supported with engaging posts could increase followers. An app link QR Code could push mobile app downloads. Email, call, SMS, or vCard QR Codes can help consumers save these details or contact for product queries.
QR codes are dynamic in nature
QR codes are of two types. A static QR code is a single-use QR code. It can be linked to a fixed URL. Whereas, a dynamic QR code can be reused. It can redirect consumers to different marketing messages on different days of the week. Using dynamic QR codes, businesses can schedule different campaigns based on time and date. Mondays could be motivation sales and weekends could be clearance days.
A KPMG study found that more than 80% of customers prefer relevant offers, gifts for sales, special privileges, or time-saving opportunities. Depending on the latest consumer trends marketers can deploy different methods of interactive consumer experiences using the same dynamic QR code.
QR codes can be customized to match business’ branding practices. Marketers can add logos, colors or a relevant background image. Customized QR codes stand out from traditional white and black. They entice consumers to interact with a brand.
At Beaconstac, we offer businesses the capability to customize QR codes.
Although there are speculations about the security that QR codes have to offer. But a responsible QR code generator should ideally delete the QR code and redirects after a campaign or subscription ends. Our robust security systems ensure that QR codes are not used for anything else apart from what they are intended for.
Why NFC Tags?
NFC has been long-used for payments. But marketers have lately identified it as a marketing channel. Approx 25% of all mobile payment transactions will be carried out using NFC by 2021. It is also estimated that in 2018, 166 million users used NFC mobile payment for their purchases. NFC enabled smartphones are increasing day by day. Here is a comprehensive list of all NFC enabled smartphones in the market.
NFC marketing use cases
Apart from payments, NFC has marketing applications as well. NFC tags can engage consumers in various ways. NFC enabled checkout kiosks can enroll customers in a loyalty program with just a tap. Loyalty programs are proven ways to maintain and increase market share by offering better consumer experiences.
UAE’s Viafone Technologies deployed an NFC-based patent-pending rewards program with Wafi, a premier mall in Dubai. Customers can collect and redeem points with just a wave of their smartphones at NFC points.
NFC business cards can help prospects access your website and save your contact details instantly. Businesses can collect reviews and ratings at NFC enabled checkout points. This will help differentiate their products from the competition by sharing reviews and ratings at NFC enabled shelf-talkers.
How to use NFC tags
NFC tags embedded in products or marketing materials (goodies) establish a direct connection with them. This connection can be leveraged to upsell/resell products and collect valuable inputs for future product decisions. Targeting current consumers with new products is an effective strategy that builds lasting customer relationships.
Related: How to set-up an NFC marketing campaign in three easy steps?
NFC tags are prone to meticulous hacks. These can take place from within 31 inches. NFC employs data encryption and a dedicated processor to safeguard against security threats. Beaconstac NFC tags ensure that marketing campaigns are shared only when consumers are in range eliminating the possibilities of a hack.
Still confused about which one suits your business? Read more about NFC tags and QR codes or schedule a demo to gain first-hand experience of how to leverage these technologies. QR codes and NFC are a valuable addition to every industry. Comment below with industry name and we’ll tell you the use cases for QR codes and NFC tags/stickers.