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When a well-known hotel chain was building a new location, passersby found a variety of large, colourful QR codes in the window. Anyone whose curiosity was piqued could scan the codes with smartphones, where they found a variety of fun results. For example, one QR code sent the user to a video that highlighted a local artist whose work was being featured inside the hotel. Another provided sneak peeks of the trendy hotel’s interior. And another delivered a playlist of music that fit the hotel’s unique vibe.
This clever campaign delivered what it set out to do: creating hype around the opening of the hotel. It’s just one of many examples showcasing innovative QR code uses.
Created by Japanese company Denso Wave in 1994, QR codes were intended to improve upon bar codes. At the time, they required a special reader. When Apple enabled the iPhone camera to read QR codes without a third-party app in 2017, however, QR codes became more mainstream. And in 2020 they became an integral way for business owners to serve customers while following social distancing guidelines during COVID-19, primarily as a means to share menus or offer contactless ways to pay.
The convenience of contactless QR codes is likely here to stay post-pandemic, as are the creative QR code uses that restaurants and retailers have launched to surprise and delight their customers. Here are a few ideas that might inspire you.
Elevate the at-home experience with QR codes
Although these days when we think of QR codes, we usually think of checking in at restaurants and supermarkets as part of the government’s contract tracing methods. But some businesses have found more innovative ways to use QR Codes, particularly during lockdowns over the past two years.
When bars and restaurants pivoted to takeout and delivery, some used QR codes to help replicate the in-person experience for patrons. For example, a restaurant might put a QR code on their delivery packaging – and that code could take them to a Spotify playlist of their jukebox’s most popular selections. This has been done in the US and is great for customers who missed the bar’s ambience.
Even though the country has opened up again, you can still use music to create an ambience for customers. For example,
- A gym could curate music for different workout intensities.
- A beauty brand could offer a relaxing playlist paired with its products to help clients recreate the spa experience at home.
QR codes create new customer interactions
QR codes have been used in China much longer than in Australia, and one of the country’s most intriguing uses can be found in a bar in Nanjing. The bar posts a QR code on a large screen behind musicians. Through the QR code, patrons can enter the bar’s chat room and interact with each other, breaking the ice before meeting in person. Active users can also earn avatar decorations and embellishments.
Interacting with customers can be done in a variety of ways.
- A gift store can put QR codes on their product shelves next to handcrafted items. Customers can be sent to videos that share personal information about the artist or company that made the item.
- A business can create hype by using QR codes to send customers to a website that teases new product launches or shares information about upcoming sales or events.
Share product instructions with QR codes
Many businesses are switching to QR codes as an easy way to provide instructions to customers. Buyers simply scan the QR code on their product or package, and they’ll be taken to a set of instructions or a video of someone showing them how to use the product. Not only is this innovative, it also saves a lot of wastage on paper instructions.
If your products and services could benefit from instructions, QR codes can help.
- A grocery store could put a code on the shelf next to products to offer instructions or recipe tutorials.
- A salon owner could share makeup application tips customers would access by scanning a QR code on a business card or product packaging.
How to get started with QR codes
QR codes can provide a fun way to engage customers. Here are some simple steps to get started:
- Determine the type of content that would enhance your business, such as sharing information, creating ambience, or providing instructions.
- Curate the content. To offer music, create a private playlist on a platform like Spotify that can be accessed by customers who have the link. To share a video, you can hire a professional or simply ask a staff member to shoot it with a camera or smartphone. Then post the video to a platform like YouTube.
- When your content is live, use a QR code generator that will create a unique code to direct the user to the website URL you input.
- Finally, share the code on your packaging or on a label next to your product shelves.
Today’s customers are used to seeing QR codes when they pay or when they’re ready to order. By using these codes to provide unique experiences, your customers can engage with your brand, no matter where they are.