During the past year, QR codes have exploded in popularity, both in the physical world and in the world of ecommerce. As they've turned into a mobile commerce mechanism powered by devices on both Android and iOS platforms, they're quickly revolutionizing multiple aspects of physical as well as online sales. All you need is a phone with a native camera to scan a QR code and immediately access the information encoded therein.
With QR codes, the buying experience for both customers and merchants is improving. Payments are simpler, smoother, and more secure. In the wake of the pandemic, contactless payments are high in demand; and QR codes are one of the ways to achieve that. Consumers just have to hold their mobile devices and scan the code to initiate payments without entering their credit card details.
Related reading: Optimize Your Digital Customer Experience in 5 Practical Steps
QR Codes – How Do They Work?
Before looking closer at ecommerce QR code use cases, let's talk about what a QR code is. Most people have seen the small black and white boxes, but how do they work?
QR codes came about in the 1990s and conceptually didn't differ much from the barcodes that you see on your groceries. The big differentiator in a QR code is the type, amount, and varieties of information or results that they can be designed to deliver.
QR is an abbreviation of "Quick Response." QR codes are 2D images consisting of lines, dots, or other forms that smartphones and similar devices with cameras can read. You can scan a QR code with your smartphone's screen and be directly linked to a website, shown certain information, or linked to almost any other digital function you can think of.
QR codes hold enormous potential to disrupt and improve the way marketing, sales, customer services, and many other sectors operate. All of this can be leveraged by the ecommerce industry.
QR Codes and the Covid-19 Pandemic
QR codes started to gain massive traction in the digital world when apps were introduced to allow anyone with a smartphone to scan them. But nothing has meant more for the popularity of QR than the onset of Covid-19. In many ways, the pandemic year of 2020 was the perfect storm for QR codes.
Acting as a bridge between the physical world of menus, instructions, coupons, and payments – and the digital world – QR codes allow for many essential activities to take place in a lightning-fast, touch-free environment. With the capacity to hold an enormous amount of information, QR codes can launch workflows that make everyday ecommerce experiences extremely tailored and frictionless.
The potential for QR code use is boundless. And as priorities in society change, and consumers shift focus to things like sustainability and the origins of their products, QR has the opportunity to host and serve data in an unprecedented way.
Related reading: Digital is Better, Says COVID-19
8 Ecommerce QR Code Use Cases
From the ecommerce perspective, there are some basic QR code use cases that your customers have grown to expect, and others that allow you to create a wow factor that makes your brand stand out from your competitors. The ability to provide contact-free details, instructions, access to your site, app, FAQ, and integrate all of the gathered data that you receive, is revolutionary.
In this article, we'll have a closer look at 8 different ways QR codes can be used to benefit both you and your customers.
1. Use QR Codes To Drive Web Traffic
You can use QR codes to quickly send customers to your site or app, providing instant access and traffic to your ecommerce experience. You have the option to tie the specific page that a customer will see to the QR code, with branding around your code or the content in which it appears. There is no end to the amount of tailoring you can accomplish for site visitors.
2. Leverage QR Codes To Build Customer Loyalty
QR codes can be used to offer discounts, coupons, giveaways, and special promotions to customers who have purchased from you. You can also use it to personalize offers to those who found you through a targeted scan. In these ways, QR codes can help you cross-sell, upsell, and increase your Average Order Value.
3. Become More Accessible with QR Codes
By letting customers use a QR code to get in touch with you quickly, you lower the threshold for making contact and become more approachable. Your customers will appreciate being able to quickly scan your code to initiate a dialogue, either via phone, SMS, or email. It's a brilliant addition to your omnichannel strategy that will make connecting with your brand feel seamless and effortless.
Want more advice on this topic?
4. Connect Your Physical and Digital Sales Channels
QR codes can be a great way to enhance your in-store experience and connect your physical stores to your digital universe. Brands like IKEA allow shoppers to scan the products they put in their cart while perusing the store, making it touchless and efficient to check out when they're finished shopping. And brands like Levi's put codes on the tags of actual clothing items so that shoppers can scan the article and see what sizes, colors, and variations are available online.
5. Facilitate Payments With Ecommerce QR Codes
The popularity of apps like Venmo, the Cash App, and features like "send and split" and the ability to add friends to co-pay via a QR code is growing to include credit card apps, specific store apps, and in-store payment options. The Starbucks pay by QR code function allows Starbucks to track your recurring orders, location, payment methods, and preferences – while gathering data for a loyalty and rewards program and sending you targeted offers based on your history. All of this takes place through a single QR code.
6. Communicate Around Corporate Responsibility
Today's consumers care about the social and environmental impact of their purchases. From sustainably sourced ingredients and minimal packaging to paper and cardboard waste, buyers want readily available information. Often, a QR code can be the most user-friendly way to provide detailed information about products.
7. Use QR Codes to Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC)
Enticing customers to scan to leave feedback is an easy way to collect customer service issues, survey information, and encourage customers to share their UGC with your brand team. Many brands encourage UGC with prizes and promotions, like Circle K, who offered one lucky winner free drink fill-ups for a year for scanning a QR code and leaving a review.
8. Build Your Social Media Channels with Ecommerce QR Codes
Getting people to follow your brand on social media can be quite a struggle. Using a QR code linked to a page allowing your customer to follow all of their social accounts with one click is an innovative and simple way to reduce the barrier and acquire a larger social media following.
Related reading: Social Commerce – Platforms and Tactics in 2021
The digital possibilities of QR codes, and the potential to leverage them in ecommerce, have gotten more mature over the last two years than any of us would have expected in 2018.
Some of the use cases of QR codes today include:
- Using QR codes to drive web traffic
- Leveraging QR codes to build customer loyalty
- Becoming more accessible with QR Codes
- Connecting your physical and digital sales channels
- Facilitating payments with ecommerce QR codes
- Communicating around corporate responsibility
- Using QR codes to encourage user-generated content (UGC)
- Building your social media channels with ecommerce QR codes
And who knows what the future will bring? The next generation of QR codes could bring us virtual experiences that whisk us away to exotic locations before we even think of buying a plane ticket just to tempt us into it.
How Vaimo Can Help
Making QR codes a piece of your ecommerce puzzle isn't so much an option now as an expected service. But you don't have to bite off the whole list at once—Vaimo can help you approach these uncharted waters by offering strategic and practical advice for a QR code strategy that makes the most sense for your brand.
If you're looking for a partner to guide you through the digital transformation journey and help you understand how to make the most of the new ecommerce landscape, we're here for you. We're happy to help you build and finetune your ecommerce strategy, implement technical changes, and improve the digital customer experience and buying journey. Get in touch with our team of experts to learn how we can help you take your ecommerce business to the next level.