Scrunchies made a re-appearance as we ended 2017, so are QR codes that far behind?

Ok, ok, I know what your immediate thoughts are here. The QR code came to the United States and failed miserably. BUT, China cannot get enough of them. According to CNN Tech, QR codes were used in $1.65 trillion of transactions last year alone, making up at least 1/3 of all mobile payments in China. So why did they take off in China? One word, WeChat. It’s the largest social network in China, with over 700 million registered users and QR codes have become the way of life. They’re everywhere, and used for everything. You can transfer payment, connect with others, or link to a specific page or piece of content. They help to drive online and offline traffic and have quickly become the gold standard in marketing and payment transactions. Just ask our team over in Shanghai.

So again, why didn’t they work outside of China? The general consensus seems to be that the convenience factor just wasn’t there. In order for someone to scan a QR code they had to download a separate app, meaning they had to open that app every single time they wanted to scan something. Whereas in China, most people are already in WeChat, and it just so happens to have a native QR code reader. So why am I talking about QR codes now, years after they have crashed and burned in the U.S.? Apple has secretly released a native QR code reader in the new iOS 11 camera app. So remember WeChat had the magic number of 700 million registered users, which helped the QR code take off in China, there just so happens to be 700 million iPhone users. This addresses the convenience factor that was just not there before. 

According to Ryan Holmes, the founder and CEO of Hootsuite (the world’s most widely used social relationship platform), QR codes could take off where they have failed in the past. The things that QR codes can do for users is endless. Scan a code and almost anything can be triggered for you, one simple step, one click – maybe it’s a sales call, ordering your favorite drink without having to explain it to your barista, directing people to videos, or completing a payment. Even better, how many times have you typed the hotel Wi-Fi password over and over again into your phone, just to be disconnected when you leave the hotel. Why not simply scan a QR code and automatically connect?

Not to mention this a marketer’s dream. Everything completed using a QR code provides trackable data. Talk about the possibilities for not only understanding your customers but helping to improve the experience they have with your brand. Holmes suggests one minor change (something that Snapchat has already done), improve the look of the QR code – add some color, imagery or shape to them.

It seems that the possibilities are endless, QR codes can be used and have been used in a variety of industries for so many different things. One example, in 2016, President Obama signed into federal law requiring all food manufacturers to label and share GMO food ingredients. That had to be done using a label (HELLO QR code), or provide a phone number for consumers to call. Using the QR code here is the much simpler way to do this. Take a look at some of your favorite snacks or candy, the bag just might have a QR code located on the back that when scanned provides all the information needed including nutrition, allergies, and ingredients.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, maybe this just might. Have you ever heard of Amazon? You have? Okay then. How about the new Amazon Go stores that will likely take over the world (ok kidding here, but really, Amazon is big time). The Amazon Go store located in Seattle, Washington allows all shoppers to enter their store and begin shopping and then those same shoppers are able to leave, without ever exchanging money. How is this possible you may ask? Well, the answer is simple, QR codes. If Amazon embraces it, it’s likely the U.S. will embrace it. Amazon is the new way of life.

What are your thoughts? As social media begins to introduce more ways to use QR codes do you think people in U.S. will begin to use them as well? Could 2018 be the QR code’s redemption year? I think it just might.


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