How Commercial Properties Can Still Draw in Customers with Contactless Shopping
Using QR codes to give people a safe experience every step of the way.
Last Updated:  November 17, 2023
There were already signs even before the pandemic: price scanners in the aisles, self-checkout counters, the option to order online and pickup in-store.
Contactless shopping has been slowly making its way for years. Until now.
As Covid-19 spread rapidly around the globe, so did the rise of consumer caution. People began withdrawing from public spaces, and commercial properties started to struggle. Even now, as the number of new cases have lowered, the sentiment remains – consumers don’t want to come into contact with anything they don’t have to.
If we’ve learned anything in the last half-year of quarantine, it’s that social distancing helps keep everyone safe. And if commercial properties want to play their part in public safety, they have to shift to contactless shopping.
Thankfully, we already have the technology to make this happen. QR codes (quick response codes) have been around for almost 25 years, used for product tracking, item identification, information storage, marketing campaigns, and more.
At its most basic, QR codes are small 2-by-2 centimeter grids of black squares on a white background. Easy to customize and place across all media, QR codes are already used by today’s top brands – Nike, Ikea, Paypal, Starbucks, and more.
Below, we go over how commercial properties can best apply QR codes to give people a safe experience every step of the way.
1. Offer Wayfinding Right at the Entrance
This is the virtual equivalent of having a front desk. While this can be optional, it’s a good idea for larger commercial properties with different departments or stores.
For example, a property can place a banner or poster on their storefront window, with a QR code that enables consumers to navigate around the area. Once they scan the code, they can retain the map on their phone as they navigate the exact location of the products they need.
Companies can also use this to promote any property-wide sales or offers, as well as learn more about their consumers and their shopping habits (i.e., time spent in store, high traffic areas).
2. Share More About Products or Services
As people browse through products, they may need more information before making a purchase. Placing QR codes on packaging or shelving can give them a way to find that information.
For example, QR codes on clothing tags can take consumers to sizing and material details, or ones on bottled drinks can share nutrition facts and ingredient lists.
After all, there’s only so much information you can put on a product. QR codes enable others to learn more about you without any extra assistance, and at their own pace.
3. Enable Self-Checkout and Payment
One of the main touch points when shopping in-store is checkout – which makes it especially prime for QR codes or other contactless solutions.
Two early adopters in self-checkout are nationwide chains, Walmart and Target.
Walmart enables customers to scan their selected items at a self-service register, which tallies the prices and displays a QR code. Using the Walmart Pay app, customers can scan the code and pay from their phones. An e-receipt is also automatically saved.
Target Wallet, which is part of their app, combines payment and savings all in a single scan. Customers can self-checkout and use Wallet to pay with their Target REDcard and reap savings with Cartwheel.
Commercial properties, like Whole Foods, Starbucks, and many more, are finding innovative ways to combine self-checkout with even more savings and customer perks.
4. Engage Shoppers in Marketing Campaigns
To keep contactless shopping from becoming dull and unexciting, commercial properties should also make use of QR codes for (safe!) interactive marketing campaigns.
For example, a QR code at a makeup counter can bring someone to a channel of beauty tutorials from notable influencers. One on a store display can reveal a fun quiz or a behind-the-scenes look at how the product was made.
QR codes can be peppered around the entire space, inviting consumers to explore and engage in the various campaigns.
5. Grow long-term relationships
Even after they’re done shopping, QR codes can be used to continue communications with customers. By placing unique QR codes on shopping bags or receipts, you can invite customers to exclusive events, to download your app, or offer them a discount on their next purchase.
QR codes are also great for customer loyalty and referral programs. While loyalty programs reward customers for additional purchases, referral programs incentivize customers to share your brand with others.
In both cases, a QR code can be used for customers to redeem their rewards. For loyalty programs, customers are given a unique QR code. Every time they make a purchase, they scan their QR code to receive points.
Referral programs engage both existing and potential customers with rewards. Existing customers get a QR code, which they can send to their network. If someone refers a new customer, the code is scanned and both customers are automatically rewarded.
Offer Contactless Shopping with QR Codes
The shift in consumer’s mindset is paving the way for seamless, contactless solutions. And QR codes have become one of the easiest ways to do so.
Try some of the QR code use cases above, and start your path to offering completely contactless shopping.
Kat Dalao is a content manager for Referral Rock. She has spent her career in publishing, first as a writer and then a creative director for a magazine. She is currently based in New York, where she enjoys doing random projects, exploring the city, and cooking.