As many businesses worldwide are faced with the task of providing cashless payment options, QR codes represent a great opportunity for companies to provide a frictionless customer journey.
The technology has gained so much traction in recent years as global behemoths like PayPal have started using it.
Last year, the payments provider rolled out a new feature in its mobile app. The move enabled users to pay at restaurants, shops and farmers' markets simply by scanning a QR code with their smartphone cameras.
'Covid-19 has changed the shopping experience in the UK as we know it,' said Lisa Scott, Senior Director at PayPal.
'The need for security and convenience is there, as always, but we now need to be able to sell and buy in a way that is quick, safe and involves limited social contact.
'Digital payments, and this QR code functionality, provides people and small businesses in the UK with the means to pay and get paid during the crisis and hopefully thrive in the future.'
The re-emergence of QR codes
QR codes - which is shorthand for 'quick response' - represent a new path forward for hospitality companies who want to provide a seamless customer experience while also reducing human touchpoints.
The technology itself is not a recent innovation. In fact, QR codes were first introduced by Japan in the 1990s but have made a remarkable comeback in recent years.
Since Apple changed the game in 2017, now, almost all smartphones (Androids included) possess QR code functionality.
The technology is essentially scannable information that redirects users to a specific web page or PDF document.
The benefit of which allows businesses to reduce paper waste while increasing customer engagement and satisfaction through interactivity and a reduction in human contact.
80% of smartphone users have scanned a QR code
The technology has become so popular that now approximately 80% of smartphone users say they have scanned a QR code at least once.
More than half of all respondents expect to use the technology for payments further in the near future while 67% stated QR codes make their life easier in a touchless world and 58% favour a greater use of them.
Other studies have shown that mobile QR coupon redemptions are forecast to surpass 5.3 billion by 2022 - up from an estimated 1.3 billion in 2017. It is believed that by 2022, more than one billion devices will access coupons via QR codes.
The Red Lion pub located in the London Borough of Ealing, implemented QR code technology last year and found it to be a success.
'It really is a no brainer. It's very simple and very easy to understand. You scan your QR codes by just pointing the camera. The menu pops, you choose what you want, pay, and your order arrives,' said owner Edin Basic.
Quick response is the right response
The benefits for using QR codes in hospitality are multifaceted as they minimise the amount of human touch points customers come into contact with. This both helps limit the spread of COVID-19 while also providing a frictionless customer journey.
For instance, PowaTag hosted a 30 second Tesco Meal Deal challenge in which customers were tasked with checking out in less than the allotted time.
'Checkouts can take up to 60 seconds so here, thanks to PowaTag, we've reduced it to just five seconds,' said Nick Lansley, head of open innovation at Tesco Labs.
'Using the PowaTag application, our customers are able to checkout, in other words pay, in just five seconds. What's clear is that customers love it, they actually told me they were experiencing the future.'
Needless to say, QR code technology is so widespread that hospitality companies are only hindering themselves by not implementing them.
This is particularly true when considering many consumers have become acquainted with the technology throughout the pandemic.
Customers want a seamless and contact-free experience. If you can't provide that, their business may be lost forever as they look toward competitors who do offer these services and features.
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