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The QR Code Evolution We Didn’t See Coming

The QR Code Evolution We Didn’t See Coming

QR code usage is skyrocketing. Who saw that one coming? Most of us thought these weird 2-D squares were dying a slow death, but in fact research shows that is far from reality.

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qr code_agsSome blame the overuse by marketers as a reason why QR codes didn’t take off in the beginning. On a side note, they were first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. Now it seems QR codes have found their place in our everyday shopping world.

The number one usage for QR codes is mobile coupon redemption, and it is projected to hit 5.3 billion by 2022 according to a recent study from Juniper called “Coupons: 3 New Technologies Set to Energize Loyalty.” Initially in early 2017, that number was estimated to be only 1.3 billion. Interesting to me that we didn’t see the QR code explosion coming.

What’s the main driver of this? Well, with the majority of smartphones, coupon redeemers had to download a special scanner app, which was a pain. With newer technology by a leading manufacturer being integrated into smartphone cameras, consumers can finally just snap a quick pic for QR code reader functionality without needing to download a thing. (I won’t mention the device maker, but it rhymes with mapple.)

Walmart has been taking advantage of QR codes for years as a part of their long-term vision to drive loyalty. In 2014 they introduced a digital receipt giving shoppers the option to store their purchases in the mobile app, which acted as a shopping list on their device for the next trip to the store.

Today, shoppers can actually use those QR codes to save money with the “Savings Catcher” program. It gives consumers money back if what they bought is sold cheaper by a Walmart competitor. All you have to do is scan your receipt’s code to digitally collect your savings to be redeemed when you choose. Not bad.

More and more retailers are gearing up to take advantage of QR codes for their in-house payment solutions. Walmart has been using QR codes in their “Walmart Pay” platform since mid 2016, competing with Apple Pay.

My favorite retailer Target, launched a QR code-based payment system last month, enabling shoppers to scan offers directly to their stored payments cards. These offers can be scanned at the checkout for instant payment. More specifically, “Wallet” in the Target app allows customers to reap the savings in one place, combining digital savings like Cartwheel offers, weekly ad coupons, and gift cards all quickly accessible at checkout.

Guess what all these applications and loyalty programs have in common? You got it. Data. They’re all collecting behavioral data on us and utilizing that data in very clever ways to create brand loyalty and customer engagement. And to increase sales.

Combine these digital coupons/loyalty programs with printed QR codes on direct mail and you have a powerful omnichannel approach to boost your bottom line. Oh and by the way, I can help with that. Reach out to me to learn how.