By Jasal Shah
In 1994, Masahiro Hara, an engineer from the Japanese automotive company Denso Wave, invented the “Quick Response” (QR) code to help track vehicles during manufacturing via high-speed component scanning. But it wasn’t until two years ago that this unassuming technology achieved mainstream attention. The need to minimize physical contact during the Coronavirus pandemic led to the dramatic resurgence of the software tool that connects the physical and digital worlds.
Today, QR codes are just about everywhere: you are likely to have used it to view a menu, send and receive payments, check in to a hotel or board a flight. Its simplicity has made its quick adoption possible across sectors. And while pandemic-induced restrictions have significantly eased across the world, the popularity of emerging contactless technology is only growing.
Improving business efficiency
Touchless technologies have existed for a while, but the difference this time is in its rate and scale of adoption. According to a report, the global contactless payment market size is expected to reach USD 6.25 trillion by 2028. What is aiding this growth in India is the smartphone base. In 2016, only around 23 percent of the country’s total population were using smartphones. In 2020, the penetration rate reached 54 percent and is estimated to reach 96 percent in 2040.
Considering nearly all smartphones now come with the QR Code scanner in their stock camera application, all you need is a good mobile phone and you’re good to go. This has enabled business owners to pivot to these solutions for diverse purposes. For instance, retailers are now using it to bring their customers to a dedicated product page or are placing a QR code directly on the product to prompt them to learn more about the range. QR codes are also being leveraged to provide more convenience to consumers, allowing them to self-serve when looking for product information. They can not only view an entire range of products, but also avail signup offers and make purchases through self-checkout without having to stand in queues. This becomes all the more useful because a past study done by HRC Retail Advisory, a retail-focused strategy consultancy, revealed that a whopping 95% of consumers prefer a non-intrusive shopping experience.
Gleaning consumer insights
Since QR technology has the capability to launch multi-media response when scanned, it opens a channel for educating customers with material that encourages in-store shopping and provides incentives to return for future purchases. In fact, the medium can create a more engaging form of dialogue between the consumer and the brand, where the latter can learn about their preferences and integrate it into their service blueprint.
It is important to remember that consumers are no longer passive recipients in the business ecosystem; they expect an intuitive and frictionless experience from brands. And therefore, brands need to be proactive and measure customer satisfaction before identifying ways to elevate it. Using QR codes can help a business acquire insightful data, particularly when combined with location analytics tools. Every time your QR code is scanned, you receive actionable customer data to help you identify pain points and offer more a seamless, comprehensive, and efficient customer journey. Furthermore, it is possible to offer consumers fun, original content to entertain them along their journey by embedding multimedia options like audio and video in it. Swiftly and easily, businesses can market their solutions in more ways than one.
Staying ahead of the curve
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution enabling extraordinary technology advances, it can be difficult to predict trends too far in the future. But one thing is clear: touchless technology is here to stay. And because QR codes occupy the sweet spot between physical and digital, they allow companies to closely measure the customer experience and convert them into sales. It is important that businesses leverage these growth opportunities to serve customers better as well as stand out in a hypercompetitive market.
(The author is MD & CEO Avidestal technologies. Views expressed are personal.)