From tying in a location to the surprising amount of data they can contain, here are 19 answers to the question, “What are your most creative uses for QR codes in business?”
READ ALSO: 6 workforce trends to watch in 2023
- Location-Based Contests and Promotions
- Information on Sustainability Efforts
- Save Space on Packaging
- Navigate Directions or Locations
- Scannable Vending Machines
- Content During Webinars
- Digital Scavenger Hunts
- Build Your Email List
- Offline Advertising Attribution
- Loyalty Programs
- Product Tags
- Online Discounts
- Contactless Payment
- Business Cards
- Receipt Customer Feedback Surveys
- Counterfeit Prevention
- After-Sale Campaigns
- Cross Promotions
- Transfer Data
Location-Based Contests and Promotions
If your business has retail or publicly accessible locations, consider using QR codes to create a scavenger hunt for customers.
You can also use QR codes to provide additional information such as menus, historical background, current promotions, and upcoming events with add-to-calendar options. For additional incentive and engagement, add a contest tied to the QR code with increased chances to win when customers take an action such as subscribing to an email newsletter, following the company on social media, or sharing a post with their followers —all done from the QR code landing page.
If you leverage retargeting, customers that use the QR code should see your ads just by following the link to the web page. Beyond the content that the QR code takes customers to, think about which other digital marketing tools can be incorporated, such as chatbots, live chats, social media, email, and more.
Colton De Vos, Marketing Specialist, Resolute Technology Solutions
Information on Sustainability Efforts
My startup manufactures reusable bottles, and we developed custom-designed QR codes our customers could scan to learn more about our sustainability initiative. This was not only an effective way of marketing our products but also gave customers the ability to track the impact of their individual purchases.
It also enabled us to collect data such as how much each customer contributed to this initiative, making it easier for us to thank them for their support. This innovative use of QR codes proved to be a great success for my company!
Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer
Save Space on Packaging
I think it’s really useful when businesses use QR codes on their packaging to provide additional information about it. This saves a ton of space on the packaging for more focused branding, while also allowing consumers to understand the product or company mission better. Besides information, you can pack in deals, discounts, and other promotional material. Use your imagination and try to see how QR codes can save precious space on the packaging.
Dan Potter, Co-Founder, CRAFTD London
Navigate Directions or Locations
One creative use is when a business puts a QR code on the bottom of a web page and then encourages users to scan it, which will automatically redirect them to a map on its website that shows the locations of all of its stores.
This is a creative use of QR codes because it is an excellent way to stay updated about this business and see where all of their stores are so that you can visit them if you need a product or service they provide.
Jacob Dayan, Co-Founder & CEO, Community Tax
Scannable Vending Machines
One way we use QR codes is on cardboard vending machines. These are trays filled with a selection of unique, quality snacks for people to choose from. On these trays is a QR code folks can simply scan with their phones, enter their payment information, and purchase the snacks of their choice.
The payment then goes directly into the vendor’s account at an agreed-upon frequency. They track inventory through the QR codes, and we automatically refill snacks that are selling.
These cardboard vending machines are excellent for co-working spaces, non-profit organizations looking to earn extra funds, and any business that doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of inventory management or implementing POS systems.
Shaunak Amin, CEO & Co-Founder, SwagMagic
Content During Webinars
When you’re giving a webinar, include a QR code that links out to relevant content on one of your slides. It’s a great way to engage your audience, give them additional information on the topic, and drive extra traffic to your site. Everyone watching from a computer will have their phone with them, so it’s a win-win use of a QR code.
Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity
Digital Scavenger Hunts
One of my favorite projects was in the early days of QR codes. It was for the State of Michigan, which was looking to revitalize its history of loch hiking and exploration trails. We helped them launch a campaign that used QR codes as a tool in a scavenger hunt.
One key factor was that the signs had to be evergreen in nature, with the ability to update location, content, and historical facts. Using QR codes as the customer-facing interaction, we then set up a series of URLs that hosted single-page websites for each point of interest on a hiking trail.
That information could be as multimedia oriented as we wanted and was easy to update and change. A hiker could scan the QR code and we could map them to the correct point of interest webpage. It was a really clever and interactive way to showcase history in the wild!
Larissa Uredi, CEO, No-Where Consultants
Build Your Email List
Use QR codes to build your email list by offering customers a promo code for your special offer or deal. When customers scan the QR code, a form appears on their phone where they can quickly sign up for your sales promotion or offer. When they tap the Submit button, it generates the promo code for your offer. You now have their contact details for your email marketing; in return, your customers get a sweet deal on your product.
Kevin Huang, Founder & CEO, Ambient Home Us
Offline Advertising Attribution
As an online business, we have traditionally operated in online marketing. As everyone knows, with PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, you can directly link which ad drove the most traffic to your page.
In case you decide to advertise your business in a magazine, you could not see how well it performs since customers will most likely search for your business name online. But with the help of QR codes, your business can have access to information, such as the number of scans, scan demographics, campaign performance, and so on.
Using this data, you could analyze if the advertisement was profitable for your business. You can also use it to compare which ad/magazine performed better to make further marketing decisions.
Luke Smoothy, Director, Get It Made Ltd
One unique use of QR codes for businesses is to provide customers with an exclusive loyalty program. Businesses can create a unique QR code for each customer, which can then be scanned whenever the customer makes a purchase, earning them loyalty points or rewards. This encourages them to keep coming back and boosting loyalty and sales.
Lilian Chen, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Bar None Games
Product tags allow customers to scan the code with their smartphones or other devices and access additional information about a product, such as its ingredients, nutritional facts, or reviews.
This is an effective approach for companies that want to provide more detailed information about their products without cluttering up the packaging with lengthy text descriptions.
In addition, it encourages engagement from customers who feel empowered by being able to access this extra data about products they’re interested in buying. Further, the data collected from these interactions can be used by businesses to gain valuable insights into customer habits and preferences.
Rajesh Namase, Professional Blogger, TechRT
We recently finished working on a campaign with a client who incorporated online QR codes into their discounts for phone purchases. As an online coffee company, they were looking for creative ways to boost their desktop computer and phone engagement at the same time.
Their solution was to offer a QR code through a social media and email campaign. You would scan the QR code with your phone from your desktop and make the purchase with your phone. We did not build the goal with the campaign to make engagement look more significant on desktop platforms, but to show their mobile customers that they could use their desktop platform to purchase coffee easily.
One of their most important KPIs was Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), in which they measured how many of their mobile customers were interested in using the desktop platforms. I thought it was a very creative way to teach engagement across platforms and to gather intel for future campaigns.
William Varney, Product Strategist, Megaphone Marketing
If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, consider using QR codes for contactless payment. It reduces the spread of germs and is efficient. The quicker the checkout process, the less time a customer has to change their mind. All they have to do is scan the QR code with their phone, and then they can use their mobile wallet to pay. This innovative approach is the way of the future.
Harry DiFrancesco, CEO, Carda Health
We’ve included QR codes on our business cards! This way, we can make sure we’re still only including the essential information people can expect to see on a business card, but we include a gateway to more information about our business, too.
The QR code takes customers straight to our website, which gives them information on all the services we offer. This acts as a further selling point—customers are all about convenience, and presenting our list of services along with our contact details meets that need.
Hitesh Gupta, Dentist, The Smile Factory
Receipt Customer Feedback Surveys
Every business must get customer insights since they enable them to gauge client satisfaction levels and pinpoint development opportunities. Businesses can now design digital customer surveys that are simple to complete and don’t require any paper thanks to the invention of QR codes.
You should include a QR code in the receipt you hand a consumer after they make a purchase. So that after scanning this code, the customer is directed to the survey page. After that, they can complete the survey online. Hence, it’s a clever way of getting feedback and boosting your loyalty.
If there is one business certainty, it is that those with products featuring superior proprietary technology will always have unscrupulous people trying to counterfeit them. This makes preventing this fraud one of the most creative ways to use QR codes.
The problem with many anti-counterfeit measures is that as soon as a new one arrives, counterfeiters quickly figure it out, costing businesses even more money to move on to the next countermeasure.
QR codes are the perfect foil to illegal activity, as we can customize them per item, accessed by both the business and customer to guarantee authenticity, and quickly changed when needed. In addition, they are inexpensive to alter, which keeps security costs low. By using QR codes to combat counterfeiters, you can always stay one step ahead of them while providing your customers peace of mind.
Mackenzie Whalen, Marketing Director, E1011 Labs
The importance of having a digital identity for any business or entrepreneur is paramount, and QR codes are innovating the process by leaps and bounds. These nifty codes act as gateways to information that is both convenient and fun, and I have observed an increase in consumer engagement if you use them creatively.
One of the best ways to do so is by using these QR codes in tandem with after-sale discount campaigns. I cannot stress enough how much of an impact this can make in increasing your website traffic by redirecting your consumers to make another purchase.
The trick is very simple: it’s all about packaging and how the QR code compliments it. An attractive packaging will lead to customer fascination, the discount will serve as your means to engage the audience, and the QR code will be the gateway, allowing the customer to seamlessly take advantage of the discount campaign, leading to repeat sales.
Shawn Harris, CEO, UniqueGiftCards
We can place QR codes on many unique items to garner attention, but one of the most creative ways to use them is in cross-promotional efforts. There are many businesses that offer complementary products or present synergistic opportunities in which both can benefit from the other’s customer base.
Setting up partnerships in which you can place QR codes on each other’s digital platforms and physical locations to promote discounts, special product offers, or even connections to blogs and newsletters is a great way to extend a business’s reach into a new market.
By using QR codes in cross-promotions with synergistic businesses, you will find a new and creative way to reach your target audience and ultimately grow your customer base.
Alexandre Bocquet, Founder & CEO, Betterly
QR codes are usually used for relaying small amounts of data and, most commonly, a URL. However, QR codes can actually support a lot more data packed into them; we’re talking kilobytes of data.
In one use case, while working on a recent project for a client of mine, we needed to import configuration data generated from their PC application to a mobile app that they were developing. There are so many ways to do this, and the usual suspects include emailing the file or sending it via Wi-Fi.
Instead, I proposed to use a QR code to pack all the information included in the file needing to be transferred, then have the mobile app launch the camera and parse the QR code with the help of an open-source library.
This open-source library was used on both sides, to both encode and decode the data into/from the QR code. To make things even more efficient, and since the data is text-based, we also applied compression to the data before encoding it into the QR code and then decompressing it on the other end.
Mohammad Afaneh, Founder, Novel Bits