QR Codes — The Future of E-Commerce

QR codes have recently taken center stage in the future of e-commerce, but this barcode technology is nothing new. In fact, the Quick Response (QR) code originated in 1994. Invented by the Denso Wave company in Japan, QR was designed to track parts moving through the auto assembly process. What made it unique was the ability to store 350 times more information than traditional barcodes.

Notably, Denso Wave kept the QR code open source, which allowed its use to grow. Though public adoption was slow at first, QR usage steadily increased during the early 2000s.

Then, in 2020, when the pandemic hit, QR saw a sudden leap in usage. According to a June 2021 survey, 45% of shoppers in the United States said they used at least one marketing-related QR code in the past three months. Additionally, nearly 60% of respondents said they believe QR codes will be a permanent part of using their mobile phones in the future.

With QR codes now playing a critical role in e-commerce, merchants should note the benefits of integrating them into their marketing and operational efforts. Let’s look at how QR codes could benefit your business.


1. Enables Contactless Ordering

One of the most popular uses for QR codes during the pandemic is enabling contactless ordering. Restaurants benefited heavily from using QR codes instead of physical menus.

Restaurant visitors simply scan a QR code on tabletops or at restaurant entrances to view the restaurant’s menu. From here, many merchants integrated a simple, contactless ordering system. Diners could submit orders directly to the kitchen without interacting with the wait staff.

While contactless ordering was born out of necessity during the pandemic, diners have become accustomed to it, with 77% of customers saying they would prefer using contactless interactions even post-pandemic when purchasing merchandise, food, beverages, and services.


2. Automatically Built into New Phones

When QR codes were first used, one of the major hang-ups was that scanning them required specialized technology. Consumers had to download a QR code reading app to their phones. This was enough to deter some consumers from using QR codes.

Today, QR code readers are built into smartphones. Users simply open their camera phone, scan the QR code, and the web application launches.

This makes QR codes one of the most convenient methods for reaching consumers. And, as nearly 90% of Americans own a smartphone, it’s easy to see why QR codes are becoming commonplace.


3. Makes for an Easy First Step in Joining the Online and Digital Revolution

For many merchants, joining the online, digital revolution has been daunting. From launching a digital storefront to enabling online ordering, the process has been complicated.

QR codes are one of the easiest ways for merchants to enter the digital realm with little to no effort on their part. Building a digital menu, enabling contactless payments, and other tasks that were once monumental are now simple with QR code technology.


4. Easy to Produce and Simple to Incorporate into Marketing

When designing marketing materials, one of the keys to success is having a simple, effective way to capture potential leads. This has always been a challenge when it comes to converting someone from a physical lead to a digital lead.

This is where QR codes shine. They’re easy to produce and simple to incorporate into marketing and advertising campaigns. From printing flyers with QR codes to adding QR codes to digital marketing campaigns, creating a QR code takes seconds and allows for vast improvements in marketing strategy. Not only that, but they make it extremely convenient for customers to scan the code and land on a webpage or app. This lets merchants convert physical leads into digital leads quickly.


5. Easily Integrated into Social and Online Media

While many QR codes are used in the physical world, they are just as easily integrated into social and online media platforms.

A social media ad can use a QR code just as simply as a printed flier. This makes it easier to keep consistency across all marketing campaigns.


6. Allows for Immediate Communication via Email or SMS

Another benefit to QR codes is they can allow immediate communication from a customer.

For example, a restaurant can set up an SMS QR code that, when scanned, launches a customer’s text messaging app. They can then use this text to place an order with the restaurant. In this case, the restaurant might add this QR code to all of their takeaway menus.

Another example would be an event promotion. A business could create an email QR code that, when scanned, opens a user’s email client. The business can even add pre-populated text to the email body, like, “RSVPing for two.” By adding these codes to event posters and online promotional ads, the business makes it simpler for a customer to communicate their desire to attend the event.


7. Can Be Integrated with Tracking for Reporting

In marketing, one of the most difficult tasks is tracking the success of campaigns. For example, a business might tape up posters around town and hand out fliers promoting their upcoming sale. But, from there, it’s hard to know how effective these promotional materials were.

Businesses can set up a QR code to track the number of times it’s scanned, and they can funnel any digital interactions with customers into marketing reports. This can make it easier to understand what campaigns are most effective.


8. Use to Convert Third-Party Customers to Direct Customers

For many merchants, part of their digital strategy in the years ahead is to convert third-party customers into direct customers. Tired of relying upon third-party apps for managing their customer relationship, these merchants are looking for a simple way to direct customers to their own e-commerce experience.

QR codes are an excellent tool to seamlessly move customers from third-party apps to a business’ own digital experience. Through targeted ad campaigns, physical displays, and other methods, a QR code can help funnel these leads into direct channels.


9. Easily Integrate into Video Content

The use of video content in marketing is on the rise. Consumers are turning to videos across digital channels to help make purchasing decisions. From there, the key for merchants is converting these interested buyers into sales quickly.

You can add QR codes to video content to help boost conversion rates. This makes it extremely simple for a user to take action. Whether it’s to prompt a customer to make a purchase, learn more about a product, or offer a unique promotion, QR codes are being added to video marketing to ensure a closed loop in the conversion process.


10. Use as Part of Loyalty Programs and Promotions

Another effective use of QR codes is implementing them into loyalty programs or using them for promotions. Companies can set up QR codes to act as a digital coupon or provide a direct link to sign up for a customer loyalty program.

These QR codes can be added across campaigns, being implemented in both physical and digital realms.


11. Empowers Easy Feedback

At the end of a meal, would your restaurant like to know how you have done? After a customer finishes an online order, would you be interested in gathering feedback about their experience?

QR codes are an excellent method for gathering immediate feedback. You can add a QR code to physical or digital receipts to allow customers to submit their feedback about their experience immediately. The QR code can either launch a survey or open a user’s text or email client to populate a response to a question.


12. Promotes the Download of Branded Applications

One of the most effective ways of taking ownership of your digital experience and increasing online conversions is by funneling potential customers to your own branded application. You can use a QR code to promote the download of your branded app.

Interested customers can quickly scan a QR code, which will automatically bring them to their phone’s app store with your branded application front and center. Long-term, increasing downloads of your restaurant or business’ branded app can help ensure that you have a direct line of communication with these customers. You can go on to push notifications to their phone, offer personalized promotions, and create an outstanding customer experience.


Take Advantage of the Benefits of Using QR Codes in E-Commerce

QR codes are the future of e-commerce. These codes require no money to create, and the data in them is editable, letting merchants adapt strategy in real-time. Additionally, these codes provide a simple way to increase lead generation.

If your business wants to take advantage of the benefits of using QR codes in e-commerce, Ally can help. Ally offers a suite of tools to create and manage the eCommerce experience. We help merchants find customers, take orders, connect with delivery drivers, and manage payments without ever paying a penny in commissions. Additionally, our solution makes it easy to incorporate QR codes into your e-commerce strategy.

Get started today and begin enjoying the benefits of QR codes.