How Can QR Codes Enhance the Retail Customer Experience?
Proximity technology is reshaping the way retailers interact with customers by giving them a say. Read on to know how to use QR Codes to enhance the retail customer experience.
Last Updated:  June 24, 2021
Quick Response (QR) Code technology holds much more comprehensive product information than a standard barcode and was developed as a better way to manage extensive inventories. They freed warehouse workers from having to lug computers around, enabling them to use their smartphones to scan them. QR Codes don’t need to be read horizontally either, which makes them more versatile than barcodes, and increases the agility of workers who need to scan information about products from any direction.
Today, retail shoppers are pretty accustomed to scanning QR Codes and more likely to have scanned a QR Code more than once while shopping. QR usage grew 28% in the period between 2018-2019, and retailers have now widely incorporated QR Codes into their marketing strategies in wildly creative ways that leverage the technology’s inherent strength at gathering data, like customer feedback at touchpoints within the physical shopping environment itself.
Connecting the dots between physical and online spaces
QR Codes can be displayed at almost any touchpoint in the retail environment, from product packaging to point-of-sale product displays, to standing banners. Unlike email or social media, QR Codes do not require customers to be online before sharing an opinion about their experience with a brand or product.
QR Codes bridge the gap between the digital and in-store shopping experience very effectively, enhancing the customer journey and facilitating retailers’ opportunity to brand their customer experience initiatives.
Let’s explore a bit deeper into some of QR Codes’ benefits for enhancing the retail customer experience and recommended best practices to follow for success.
1. Leverage their versatility
There are many applications available today that support QR Code technology enabling retailers to curate in-store experiences in ways that get noticed for their uniqueness and novelty and have the added benefit of adding interactivity to the in-store customer experience. Some examples include enabling login for free WiFi, providing product recommendations, videos, signup offers, promotions entry, and more.
2. Inspire repeat purchases
Since QR Codes can trigger a multi-media response when activated, they create a channel to educate customers in fun ways with content that promotes in-store shopping, offering unique incentives for customers to come back to you for similar purchases in the future. If retailers can get customers to return to make a second and third purchase, those customers are more than 50% likely to make another purchase in the future as customers who don’t. And once you have a repeat customer, it takes less marketing investment overall to make them more likely to convert again.
3. Gain valuable insights
Retailers are always looking for more accessible, less intrusive ways to track their customers’ in-store shopping behaviors, and QR Codes make that job much more manageable. Some of the applications leveraging the technology for retailers also mine the data insights on visitors’ browsing patterns. This data can later enable personalized insights about retail and eCommerce customers and transactions that retailers can use to optimize the customer experience.
4. Interact seamlessly with customers
The majority of retail customers just want to be left alone while browsing products and resent being followed by over-eager sales staff. With QR Codes placed strategically around the shopping environments, customers can scan them to learn more about individual products—without intrusion from store staff. QR Codes can enable access to educational content like guides, tips, product recommendations, and even recipes all on their own.
Today, mobile technology is an essential part of every retail customer’s shopping experience and aids in the discovery, browsing, and purchasing of retail products.
Most smartphones today come with an in-built QR Code scanner, and this removes the step of having to download a third-party app to scan a QR Code. Since most retail searches begin on a mobile device, QR Codes provide 2-way communication that allows retailers to capture insights about customers’ in-store purchasing behavior and use that to remarket to the customer beyond their in-store experience.
This could help marketers see a boost in return on ad spend. For example, QR Codes offer technology-savvy retailers a channel to retarget users on Google and Facebook. Retargeted customers are much more likely to interact with your online ad on social media, as compared to shoppers who have never visited your outlet.
6. Save marketing costs
Traditional ways that retailers offer discounts or promote special offers to their customers include SMS and email, and these tactics will cost far more than printing QR Codes on products, posters, or receipts. QR Codes will also enable interaction and the ability to track usage and online behavior, increasing conversion rates. Retailers can create customized posters with the help of professionally designed templates and incorporate QR codes for better customer engagement
7. Understand marketing effectiveness
QR systems will enable retailers to track key metrics, like the number of customers who scan, where, what time, and how they scan. This eliminates speculation concerning marketing spend and enables marketers to develop highly targeted campaigns based on the analytics collected.
8. Position your brand
Not all retailers are using QR Codes, and although usage is rising, this is still a time that early adopters can be seen as cutting-edge trailblazers who are on the pulse of the latest trends. Leveraging QR Codes in your customer experience initiatives could differentiate your retail brand from competitors and lead to a higher market share.
Recommended best practices
QR Codes provide retailers with an opportunity to engage with customers on their smart devices and to spur participation in contests and promotions. QR Code coupon redemption by retail customers is on the rise, and by 2022 research will surge to 5.3 billion QR coupon redemptions, with an estimated 1 billion smartphones accessing these Codes. They create the perfect synergy between marketing, customer loyalty, and payment.
Retailers should focus on implementing QR Code technology as part of a more extensive marketing campaign, one that leverages a mobile strategy that cleverly integrates mobile payments with customer loyalty and marketing initiatives.
Quite simply, successful retail marketers will design a mobile-enhanced offering that links mobile payment infrastructure with well-planned marketing messaging and valuable customer loyalty initiatives to deliver a unique and engaging in-store shopping experience.
1. Be transparent
QR Codes work best in customer settings where they facilitate learning more about products, and retailers should be clear about the result. And don’t forget to begin by explaining how to use the QR Code itself and a short intro on what the customer can expect by enabling the Code. For example, keep it simple: Scan the QR Code with your smartphone and receive a 10% discount. Transparency like this will get even the least technically savvy customer’s attention.
2. Use CTAs
Calls to action are critical in all marketing communications, and in QR Code customer experience campaigns, that is no different. Make sure you capture shoppers’ attention with detailed information about the action you want them to take. It should be a benefit-driven headline to increase the chances that customers will engage with your retail brand in-store on this new channel.
3. Optimize content
A lot of times, retailers make the mistake of directing customers to web pages that are not optimized for mobile phone screens, and this is an immediate turn-off for customers. QR Codes are a mobile experience first and foremost. Make sure your content is scalable and responsive on mobile phone screens, and enable your customers to claim a discount or take the action you want them to in as few clicks as possible.
4. Track success
Aim to collect enough data and track your QR Code customer experience campaigns’ success to know what is working, the reach, and the impact. Understanding how customers interact with the campaign will help you develop future campaigns, making the most of your marketing resources.
The most important result of an effective QR Code-based customer experience initiative is opening an additional channel to interact with your in-store customers.
Begin by identifying the touchpoints you will use to engage with your customers. Ideally, make this a mix of both static and dynamic points of feedback. For example, static could include point-of-sale displays, standing banners, posters, and even the walls of your retail outlet, while dynamic ones include receipts, product packaging, and loyalty cards.
As retail businesses start to welcome customers back to in-store shopping, creating memorable and interactive customer experiences will differentiate great retailers from good ones. An inspiring and creative QR Code customer initiative following some of the recommended best practices in this post will help keep your retail business on top.
Ray Ko is the Senior Ecommerce Manager atShopPOPDisplays, located in New Jersey. ShopPOPdisplays is a leading retail displays manufacturer of point-of-purchase displays. Combining over 20 years of experience in branding, content, search engine marketing, Ray is an expert in formulating and implementing e-commerce strategies to drive site traffic, improve user engagement, and increase revenue.