QR codes are quickly transforming retail, e-commerce, and digital marketing experiences and the industry is just getting started. What was once a clunky technology that often didn’t work, the QR code of today is a customized, enterprise solution utilized in every channel— from in-store displays to print advertising, email, direct mail, and even television ads.
QR codes are becoming more and more indispensable, as retail and e-commerce marketing teams come to realize that they can be used to enhance the customer experience, increase loyalty, and ultimately boost revenue; as consumers engage more often and in new ways with their mobile devices.
It isn’t difficult to understand why this has happened. When implemented correctly, the technology offers an instant connection with consumers as they shop, view product information, complete purchases, pay bills, download apps, and register for services.
With a simple tap of their smartphone, QR codes make the purchasing process quick and customer service easier. In the hyper-competitive e-commerce world, it’s important to have a leg up in every aspect of the business, and QR codes can help retail and e-commerce businesses create loyalty, boost reputation, and ultimately become a principal driver of growth. Engagement is the name of the game, and QR codes make it easy for consumers to engage on their terms at any mobile moment.
In this post, we’ll touch upon some of today’s most innovative QR use cases for retail and e-commerce. We’ll also offer some professional advice on what marketers should consider when implementing QR code experiences across various marketing channels.
First, however, let’s consider how QR codes can fuel first-party data strategies.
The demise of third-party cookies has made it increasingly more difficult for retailers and e-commerce marketers to find new audiences. That’s because, without device-level tracking, an audience aligned with select demographics and buying habits can no longer be easily purchased on advertising platforms like Facebook and Google.
QR codes drive strong engagement signals. A consumer that takes a moment to take out their phone and scan a QR code is telling the retailer they are potentially a customer— or perhaps already a loyal customer that is ready to purchase. Marketers can and need to capture that scanning data and act on it. You can’t track scans effectively (or at all) if your marketing teams are using fragmented solutions or free QR code generators with no app-open capability.
QR codes are a newly powerful marketing tool that can drive synergy between your store locations, your app, and your website. Implement them effectively, and you not only can track the number of scans but augment and connect that scanning data to other engagement data as a way to build upon your first-party data strategies.
Place QR codes in-store that can open\install your brand’s e-commerce app
The QR code is perfectly suited to increase retail app installs and app re-engagement. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer apps, and retailers have a great opportunity to encourage consumers to install or engage the app across channels and when they’re in the store or in close proximity to one.
QR codes for apps can be configured to open the retail or e-commerce app to select screens when they’re already installed (or go to the right app store if it’s not installed).
Starbucks is a showcase for QR best practices, as the company promotes its app throughout the customer experience by placing QR codes on everything— from receipts and cupholders, to in-store signage.
Pro Tip: Always include your mobile app in your QR code strategies. Sending valuable app customers or potential app users back to your mobile website will not drive sales or engagement because app users will abandon their shopping journey at the mobile website login.
Surprise and delight customers with virtual QR-driven shopping experiences
Advanced QR codes can incorporate the retailer’s brick-and-mortar location, the mobile app, and the website all in one QR experience that lets the consumer engage with a virtual store. The holiday season presents an especially keen opportunity to get creative with QR codes as shoppers use their phones to research and discover new products and gift ideas. Your marketing team or agency is only limited by their imagination!
In this great Walmart example, the company used a QR-driven product display on the street to catch the attention of passersby and present new gift ideas for toys. The QR code was designed so that when the visitor scanned it, they’d be taken to the product page on the Walmart website (and hopefully the app if it was installed!).
Customers were able to engage in a new experience while simultaneously looking at the product, making the purchase, and then picking it up at their local Walmart location— all driven by a single QR code!
Matching QR codes with a valuable incentive is a great way to engage customers and compel them to continue shopping or to try new products and services. Eye-level QR codes inspire consumers to take out their phones and scan at that moment, but only if they’re promised something worthwhile in return. Consider department-level QR codes with incentives that can be incorporated into the shopping experience. Place them on store shelves and displays, or on signage throughout store checkout queues.
Remember, your QR code can be designed to open your app or website directly to select product pages or categories. Try QR codes that lead consumers to a broader selection that’s not carried in the store or to complementary products.
Pro Tip: Are you reaching a multilingual audience? This can present a challenge when it comes to QR code usage. Which site do you send them to? Well, guess what? You don’t need to create a different QR code for each language or send all visitors to a global landing page in which they need to manually choose a language. Enterprise QR platforms like URLgenius let you create QR codes that contain more than one app or web destination. The user is routed to their preferred language destination based on the language setting in their browser.
Invest in Shoppable QR Codes for Video and TV Ads
Among brands on the cutting edge of marketing technology, shoppable QR codes are becoming the norm— whether it’s sports events, shopping channels, or OTT video commercials or even product videos on YouTube!
In this example, Lacoste is using shoppable TV ads during the French Open. The ad appeared during select moments of the game, allowing the viewer to scan the QR code and immediately buy the product. Considering the number of programming opportunities, it’s not hard to imagine why brands need enterprise QR capabilities that keep the codes in a central location along with all the scanning and engagement data being generated.
The ad reached ‘tens of millions of viewers… resulting in an average conversion rate that’s nearly 30% higher than the e-commerce industry benchmark.’
If you’re not placing a QR code in your video content, you are missing giant engagement and sales opportunities. You already have the customer’s attention— use a QR code to help them buy the product directly from the video they’re watching.
QR codes are poised to deliver a wealth of information to marketers. Beyond simply tracking scans, retailers and e-commerce teams can learn what products, offers, and incentives connect consumers closer to brands; while also driving loyalty and revenue. Here are just a few potential insights that could be gleaned from your QR code campaign when connecting scans to your app and web engagement data:
When kicking off your QR code campaign, think beyond the number of scans as a success metric. Consider and look at the trends being driven by your QR codes across marketing channels.
QR codes may seem easy to create, but to utilize them correctly and extract all their potential value takes expertise, the right technology, and the right strategy. Essentially, there is a lot that can go wrong in the process. From QR design and density, to size, placement, and scanning distance— not to mention capturing analytics. Even something as simple as logo design or UTM parameters can interfere with the scanning process and your marketing team may be wondering why nobody scanned when in fact, your customer tried and was left frustrated by the experience!
Get started now and turn your QR code strategy into a long-term competitive advantage!
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