QR-codes have come a long way in the past few years. Once seen as a gimmick, QR codes have now become an essential tool, especially in the retail sector. It was first introduced in Japan in the 1990s as a means to keep track of vehicles during the manufacturing process. Eventually, QR-codes slowly worked their way up into the technology and payments sectors, especially in Asia.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these codes have taken on an even bigger role worldwide, providing both businesses and customers a means to continue transacting with one another without physical contact.

Here are some ways retailers today can start using QR-codes.

Contactless click-and-collect experience

A creative approach that retailers have found when using QR-codes is to enable their click-and-collect business. These stores, which allow online purchase and pickup in-store, are one of the latest trends in retail today.

With click-and-collect software, customers can check-in to a shop, order items and pay by simply scanning a QR-code with their mobile phone. Many retailers are even taking this solution a step further by letting their customers collect their online purchases from the parking lot or curbside. An electrical retailer, for instance, has made a drive-thru collection service in many of its stores. This setup allows its customers to wait within the safety of their cars while their items are being prepared and sent to their car boots.

The clothing powerhouse, Nike, has introduced its NikeTown Express Shop service, which provides a means for its customers to book an appointment, but also tell the staff what they want, so that the products are ready when they visit the shop. This approach saves buyers time from browsing their shelves and lining up to make purchases, reducing their overall time in-store significantly.

Taking part in virtual queues

Rather than ask customers to wait in lines outside of the stores, many retailers today are now using queue management apps to allow them to join virtual queues. One way of doing this is through the use of a QR-code.

The customers are then given a position number via email or SMS. They are also provided the estimated wait time and a link to keep track of their place. Meanwhile, this entire process is managed by customer hosts to keep everything flowing smoothly.

QR codes remain relevant in the year 2021 and onwards. Even today, many mobile devices are being made with a built-in QR code scanner to allow people to take part in this new technology trend.

Reaching new audiences and building engagement

In addition to facilitating access to in-store shopping and building omnichannel sales strategies, QR-codes are also providing brands and retailers with extraordinary audience reach, transforming physical products into owned-media channels.

An innovative approach already embraced by famous brands like Puma or Ralph Lauren, which have started displaying QR-codes on their products or labels. The QR-code becomes, in these cases, an interface with the consumer, capturing information and stimulating purchase transactions.