QR gets the A-OK as Covid brings tech in from the cold

qrThe QR code has gone from retail promotional device to being hailed by consumers as the future of shopping, following widespread adoption during the Covid pandemic as touchless “digital handshake”.

That is the key finding of a new study carried out by retail innovation agency Outform, in partnership with Relish, which saw 2,000 people quizzed across the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands to discover how coronavirus has changed shoppers’ habits and attitudes.

While the humble QR code’s popularity in Asia has never been matched in the West, the technology has come up trumps during the past 12 months, with 40% of people saying the presence of QR functionality will incentivise them to shop. This call to action is even higher for 25- to 34-year-olds, with five in ten (48%) feeling this way inclined.

While the link between QR codes and purchase is in no way concrete, four in ten (40%) shoppers believe that a QR-enabled experience would actually increase the chances of them completing a purchase, and 38% are more likely to actively shop somewhere with QR functionality.

The safety concerns surrounding retail under the pandemic have also played a large role in QR codes’ rising popularity, especially among younger shoppers. Some 57% of 18- to 34-year-olds say QR codes make their shopping experience safer, compared to 40% of those aged over 55: a demographic which is arguably more at-risk.

Their commonplace use over the past year has also seen QR codes being more accepted in terms of data security, with 57% of consumers feeling completely comfortable scanning without hesitation when in-store.

This is most likely due to the recent appreciation of just how useful QR codes can be from a shopper perspective, with 54% of people saying QR codes enable them to further explore features and benefits of products in-store.

Outform managing director EMEA Simon Hathaway said: “But the global pandemic has proven just how resilient this piece of tech is, and not just for retail, but for all manner of industries.

“Its propensity to create a digital handshake (in its broader sense of using tech to connect customers with brands and stores), and to do so safely and as conveniently as possible, isn’t exclusive to the pandemic. The QR code has finally clicked with people, and the fact that half of our respondents believe it’s ‘the future of shopping’ is testament to that.”

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