The phrase “QR code” is being searched in Google, right now, more frequently than at any other point in history.
A little QR code history: they were invented in the 1990s in Japan for tracking automotive parts. According to search engine data, they experienced spikes of interest in 2011 and 2016. But never has the public been more interested in them than right now.
It’s because what QR codes provide—mobile, touchless solutions—has historically been a novelty. It was interesting, but nobody needed it. It was a convenience instead of a solution.
Not so anymore. The solutions that QR codes provide are now directly applicable to the problems we face and the concerns we have.
QR Code Benefits for Restaurants & Bars
Research groups across the globe predict recurrent seasonal SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) outbreaks going forward. It can’t be brought to heel once and for all. Like any other seasonal illness, it’s here to stay.
Hygiene is the primary reason why QR codes are seeing such resurgent interest right now. It’s dawning on people that contactless commerce isn’t just a nifty lever to pull to get out of this one jam. Going touchless is how we have to behave going forward to consistently minimize the risk of infectious disease.
A great example of this is the QR code menu. In restaurants and bars, QR codes on tables replace the single filthiest thing there: a paper menu. Filthiest on the order of 185,000 germs per square centimeter. Sadly, that’s about as dirty as a decently-maintained public toilet.
These are the sorts of things QR codes allow us to easily handle now. By strategically embracing QR codes, businesses work toward germ-free experiences. And customers recognize and appreciate that.
Fluctuations in inventory affect bars and restaurants more than any other business. That’s because they must codify their inventory in menus. Menus are a snapshot in time and often inaccurate because of seasonal changes and unforeseen spikes in traffic and demand.
But QR code menus, and digital menus in general, give restaurants the power to edit menus on the fly. No more reprinting, no more wrangling old menus out of the dining room.
QR Codes Benefits for Business
QR code uses are many and impactful. They encode anything from simple business cards to more complex touchless payment systems. They power WiFi authentication, event check-in, and ordering systems, too. Once you learn what a QR code is, you see that the format is a bit of blank slate. You can encode virtually anything in a QR code. And the QR code minimum size makes it perfect for environments with limited real estate. That’s why the use cases keep growing.
Three points, taken together, illustrate how accessible QR codes are and why that accessibility is important.
- Smartphone and QR code statistics show 91% of iOS devices have a built-in QR code scanner. Android isn’t too far behind. As older devices leave circulation, that number goes nowhere but up. Most people walk around with the ability to scan a QR code in their pocket.
- 94% of mobile users look for local information on their mobile devices.
- QR codes can be placed anywhere.
Most everyone has smartphones and most everyone uses those smartphones to research local businesses. A QR code helps people research local businesses. If you place yours strategically, you’ll fit directly into the behavior pattern and see engagement.
QR codes—and specifically dynamic QR codes—have no space restrictions. Want to distribute your entire 10,000-bottle wine list to everyone you can? Turn it into a QR code menu. Want to include your business’s origin story or mission statement in an advertisement or email? Include a QR code that links out to it.
QR codes don’t just allow for more content, but for better content. The URL you encode in your QR code can have audio and video content. It can even have interactive content like surveys, review requests, social media accounts, and comment sections. Interactive content turns your QR code campaign into a conversation—and you can build a social media following quickly.
Just look at QR codes on food to see how beneficial that is. Most consumers today want the companies they interact with to speak to the things that drive their purchasing decisions: well-being, sustainability, and social responsibility. Businesses that drive those conversations build long-lasting relationships. And the depth and quality of content that QR codes can deliver make that a lot easier.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
The amount of printed material that QR codes can replace is astounding. Menus, brochures, receipts, magazines, books, programs, schedules, business cards, the list goes on. If your business stops printing and starts encouraging scanning, you’ll make a big dent in your company’s environmental sustainability.
And, of course, reducing printing also saves you money. Restaurants, for example, can spend up to 50 cents per menu for high-quality cardstock with a finish. The National Restaurant Association recommends discarding all paper menus after each use. QR codes for restaurant menus can save hundreds or thousands of dollars a week.
And these QR codes aren’t inexpensive to create or maintain. See for yourself: here’s how to make a QR code. You can even create a QR code for free, though we recommend businesses against it. Here’s some more about QR code security issues.
QR Codes Benefits for Customers
QR codes awesomely benefit everyone who touches them, consumers and businesses alike.
QR stands for quick response. QR codes are supposed to speed up the scanning process of UPC barcodes. They successfully do this by encoding information in two directions instead of one. Check out how QR codes work. It’s fascinating stuff. By encoding information horizontally and vertically (which is why they’re a square), they’re able to deliver that information from two directions instead of one. That adds up to a code that scans and delivers information faster.
Easy to Use
QR codes aren’t scanned by barcode scanners that shoot a horizontal line, like you see at a checkout counter. They’re scanned by 2D optical scanners. A regular camera is a type of optical scanner. That’s why our smartphone cameras can so easily be made to scan QR codes. Scanning a QR code is as easy as pointing a camera at something. Here’s how to scan a QR code, for good measure. And QR code scanners allow us to scan barcodes from farther away and at numerous angles. The result is a barcode that’s remarkably easy to scan. QR codes vs barcodes is a no-brainer.
They Can Be Saved
You can save any content accessed through a QR code on your phone. Whether that’s a URL or just plain text. When you scan a QR code, you’re not only viewing content, you’re being given the option of taking the content. That’s a big convenience for anyone that wants to interact with a QR code but doesn’t have the time right then.
QR Code Marketing Benefits
Here is one of the most impactful QR code strategies. Check out these QR code marketing benefits.
QR code tracking is what makes QR codes such an attractive long-term marketing strategy. Most businesses that roll out QR codes keep an eye on their scan numbers. This usually consists of total scans, unique scans, time of day, and location. By looking at these metrics over weeks or months, businesses can get a handle on which codes perform well and when. Then they can lean into what makes certain codes successful and scale it.
Tracking scans is particularly useful with lead generation, where scans are compared with conversion rates and used to estimate revenue.
They Bridge Marketing Streams Together
Usually businesses have two streams of marketing: digital and not. It’s hard to cross-pollinate between the two because of technical limitations. But QR codes are a bridge between them online and offline customer experience. They’re one of the only reliable ways to get people who view your offline, print media to your online content. This maximizes exposure, engagement, and, ultimately, revenue.
They Appeal to Curiosity
A recent study in the Journal of Business Research found that QR codes attract especially curious people—who are also more likely to scan. This appeal to curiosity is a bonus for any marketing campaign. These curious consumers may otherwise slip through the cracks on run-of-the-mill marketing campaigns.
Because QR codes often direct customers to online marketing material, updating images, copy, and details is no sweat. Nothing needs to be reprinted or redistributed if something needs to change.
Benefits of QR Codes In Healthcare
How can QR codes benefit the healthcare industry? Let us count the ways.
By tying your personal information and health records to a QR code, health care providers access all the information they need with a quick scan. This speeds up patient identity management and cuts down on errors.
It seems strange to see a billboard advertising a hospital’s low ER wait time. But hospital’s have to drum up business and revenue to survive just like any other organization. Using QR code marketing avails hospitals of all the great benefits of QR code marketing that other organizations get.
Patient Follow-Up Information
After doctor visits, even relatively routine ones, patients often leave the office with a handful of papers. Summary of the visit, next steps, suggested dietary adjustments, etc. All of this can be placed on QR codes and distributed at a fraction of the cost.
Drug Safety and Prescription Information
Prescription drugs can have QR codes with all the drug safety, side effects, warnings, and interactions detailed. Prescription instructions, which vary patient to patient, can also be encoded after each visit into a QR code and placed on bottles or the follow-up information sheet.
Medical Equipment Information
The equipment in hospitals is so specific and varied that only those with deep technical training can operate, troubleshoot, and repair them. A QR code can include storage and operating instructions, common troubleshooting tips, and maintenance recommendations for each piece of equipment. Anyone who wants to become familiar with the machine need only scan.
Benefits of QR Codes In the Classroom
Teachers and professors can harness the power of QR codes, too. The benefits of QR codes in the classroom are:
Easy Syllabus, Presentation, and Notes Delivery
Teaching necessarily involves transferring large amounts of information to those who don’t have it. That means piles of papers, syllabi, notes, book passages, presentations, etc. Publish these online, encode the URL in a QR code, and distribute that. It’s a lot easier.
Taking attendance in a large lecture hall is so difficult, students can routinely skip out with no consequence. Some innovative colleges and universities have begun putting a QR code up at the entrance. Students that scan it are taken to a spreadsheet where they can enter their names for attendance.
Instant Transmission of Long URLs
Giving a URL to your students, unless you’re emailing it to them, requires they copy it down. This is frustrating and error-prone with long URLs or shortened URLs that consist of randomized letters. Tie the URL to a QR code and make it easier.
Benefits of QR Code Payments
Facilitating instant payment is one of the more impressive things QR codes can do. The benefits of QR code payments are:
This is the real draw. QR code payment is lightyears faster than other modes of payment. Scanning a QR code can securely submit your payment information and process a payment in seconds.
QR codes are good tools to use for the transmission of sensitive information because they get out of the way. They’re just tools to transfer people to URLs, for the most part. That means the URL can still be fully secure and encrypt any information it sends and receives. It’s important to remember here, that it really depends on the security of the URL encoded in the QR code. Not the QR code itself.
Easy to Set Up and Use
QR code payments are easy to set up and use for both businesses and customers. On the business side, most POS systems integrate with QR codes. On the customer side, most banking apps integrate with QR codes. And we already know how easy a QR code is to scan.
QR codes can sustain up to 30% damage and still scan successfully. Check out QR code error correction levels. They remain one of the most durable digital payment platforms out there.
The Benefits of Using QR Codes
The benefits of using QR codes are undeniable for both businesses and consumers. And everyone is finally coming around to it.
Affordable and contactless customer touchpoints can now mean the difference between success and failure. Meaningful engagement around wellness, sustainability, and social responsibility can now build more brand loyalty than savings.
It doesn’t matter what type of business you are, the benefits of QR codes are yours to take.