qr code on phone

The rise and rise of the QR code

Given the attention the QR code has been given in the last few months, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a brand new, exciting technology medium. Not so.

2D codes were created to carry more information than traditional bar codes. They have now been used for decades, primarily as a way of sharing information about parts or products in manufacturing, or tracking a chain of events. QR codes, specifically, were invented in Japan in 1994. Their name is an abbreviation of ‘Quick Response’ and they are used to give people instant access to information online; usually that means being directed to a website or location where an app/documents can be downloaded.

Until recently it seemed that QR codes had had their heyday. In the mid-noughties, marketers attempted to capitalise on the growth of smart phones by adding smart QR code campaigns to their materials – inserting them everywhere, from posters and advert to magazine articles. But it didn’t work. Most phones didn’t have QR readers built in, and consumers just weren’t interested in downloading extra software in order to engage with them.

The QR code died – or so it seemed. Certainly, most marketers chalked it up to a splash in the pan; one that had huge potential but failed to cross the chasm into mainstream adoption.

Then came COVID-19. When a pandemic hits there are certain things you can confidently predict will increase in popularity. Canned goods. Toilet roll. Bleach. Hand sanitiser. All of assumptions proved correct, yet what most people didn’t foresee was the re-emergence of QR codes.

With social distancing guidelines in place, contact with people and objects outside of the home became a no-no. Suddenly companies needed a way to communicate when things like menus, instructions, vouchers and shared paper/card weren’t usable. Luckily this coincided with consumers realising how easy it is to scan QR codes with their mobile camera – especially as QR code readers are built into mobile technology as standard these days.

The food industry has been one of the tool’s biggest supporters. As restaurants and bars have sought to protect their staff and customers from person-to-person contact, many have used QR codes to send people to their online menus. Others have gone further, linking them to their new/existing online ordering portals and apps. This has simplified the process for customers ordering their meals for collection and made order-to-table and payment services effortless.

Further, the use of QR codes in retail and hospitality to register guests for track and trace has made a long, manual task manageable. When customers were still manually writing their name and contact details into logbooks, the process was both cumbersome and prone to error.

With the QR code back in our lives, and looking like it’s here to stay, we thought it would be a good moment to share some of our favourite uses of QR codes.

1) Link to vouchers

If you use a Dynamic QR Code, it will be trackable, that means records of its use are kept. This is ideal when using them to link customers to voucher codes; it allows brands to better follow the customer journey and conversiosns.

2) Encourage customer feedback

In an age where consumers exist online, gaining digital reviews – through Google, Facebook, Trip Advisor or even Yelp – can have a huge impact on reputation and customer traffic. When a customer is eating in, a QR code linking to a review page – or satisfaction survey – is an easy way to encourage feedback. Similarly, the code could be printed on the packaging of food collected or delivered to the customer’s home.

Place a QR code on a receipt and make it one-step easy for a customer to be taken to a feedback survey.

3) Link to the bill

Pay-at-table saves customers and staff time – and helps turn tables faster so that brands can serve more people in less time. Using a QR code, guests can open a portal, then, after inputting their table number, can access their bill. From there they can split the bill with friends, pay the balance and even add a tip.

The QR code is a simple tool and something that can be created by anyone. At Theravada we think it’s one of the greatest success stories to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and advise our customers to use it for their order to table and pay at table services.

To find out how this can work for your business, get in touch today.