Everybody these days knows what a QR Code is. Yes, the black-and-white squares that can link to an array of information such as website URLs, image, audio, video, PDF file, and simple text.

QR Codes in Retail Stores_QR Code

QR Codes aren’t popular just in China or other Asian countries. Countries such as United States, UK, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Canada use QR Codes too.

The wide usage of QR Code across industries such as marketing, education, payments, and healthcare have made them a sought-after technology, especially for print media.

Retail stores are no exception. Retail stores use QR Codes in a number of ways. Here’s a list of 3 uses of QR Codes in retail:

1. Virtual Stores

The next big thing after e-commerce websites are virtual stores. Virtual stores help busy consumers save time and energy. Some of the most famous virtual stores that use QR Codes are:

a. Amazon Go

In 2016, Amazon launched Amazon Go, a retail store with the ‘most advanced shopping technology’ in US. The store is built around what Amazon call a ‘Just Walk Out’ technology that allows users to walk in the store, pick the items they need and simply walk out. To enter the store, users have to scan a QR Code using the Amazon Go app on their smartphone at the entrance. The amount of the purchase is debited directly from the users Amazon account.

b. Walnut Store

In 2016, an Indian entrepreneur, Preethi Desai, launched the country’s first smart touch-and-feel QR Code grocery store in Bengaluru. The smart store allows customers to purchase grocery by scanning a QR Code using the Walnut store app on their smartphone. Unlike other virtual stores, Walnut stores offer consumers to taste, smell, and feel the product before making a purchase. The products are then delivered to the buyer’s door step.


c. Tesco

In 2011, Tesco opened the first smart store in a subway in South Korea. A big screen was set up which featured a wide range of products. People could simply scan the QR Code featured next to each product to add them in their virtual cart in the Tesco Homeplus app on their smartphone. The products would then get delivered at the consumer’s door step.

QR Codes in Retail Stores Tesco

To enhance shopping experience, Paytm launched QR Code-based O2O payments system in India. It allows people to walk into the store, scan a QR Code using Paytm app, and select the items they want.

Also see how Uber partnered with Cargo in San Francisco and Los Angeles to make riding better for its users.

2. Payments

From retail giants to street hawkers, QR Codes have made it easy for retailers to accept payments. For the big fish, QR Code payments help in clearing check-out lines faster, for small time retailers, QR Code payments save the excess cost that other cashless payments such as cards bring in the form of extra hardware.

Also read: QR Codes in Payments

a. Walmart

Walmart is one of the  United States’s biggest retail stores that is using QR Codes. It launched Walmart pay in 2015. This feature allowed shoppers to pay by scanning a QR Code. Users could link their major credit or debit cards to their walmart app. Scanning the QR Code debited the billed amount for the card linked to the app. This allowed users and Walmart to save the extra free charged by credit card companies and Apple Pay.

QR Codes in Retail Stores Walmart

b. Target

Similarly, Target announced the addition of a QR Code payment system at its stores in 2015. Using the Target pay app, consumers could pay for the products by simply scanning the Target QR Code.

QR Codes in Retail Stores Target

3.Tags and receipts

QR Codes on product tags can list product details, product manufacturing processes. This helps manufacturers build trust with their audience.

a. Zara

Fashion and clothing brand Zara has added a QR Code to the price tags of their clothing. Scanning the QR Code leads scanners to a landing page listing the product’s manufacturing details. The page also give scanners information on the different colors and sizes available in the product range.

In May 2018, Zara even rolled out QR Code-based collection points at Stratford store.

QR Codes in Retail Stores Zara

Also read: QR Codes in Fashion and Accessories

b. Decathlon

In 2018, Decathlon designed Scan & Go app. This is to help people skip the long queues at Decathlon store.

Customers can download the app and scan QR Code on the tag of products they want. QR Code, when scanned, redirects to detailed product information and gives customers the option to ‘Add to cart’.

Once they’ve selected the products they want, they can make payment online after which they get a QR Code. This QR Code simply needs to be scanned at the gate to exit.

Similarly, in feb 2017, Primo app launched in Japan. It allows people to scan QR Code for the products they want to buy. Simple. No waiting at the checkout counter, no hassle with cash and cards.

c. Gaga App

Malaysia’s Gaga Rewards app partnered with retailers to print QR Code on receipts. Customers could scan this QR Code with any QR Code scanning application to get rewards. This saved merchants from handing out membership cards.

4. Directions

QR Codes are also used to help consumers find products easily. This is especially helpful in large stores where consumers generally have difficulty locating items they wish to purchase.

a. Ralph Lauren

In 2012, Ralph Lauren partnered with Harrods, a UK based luxury department store to set up QR Codes in the store. When scanned, the QR Codes led buyers to the section of the store displaying Ralph Lauren’s latest collection. 15 Harrods stores across London displayed these QR Codes.

Ralph Lauren

If you are a retailer, using QR Codes can make your store more interactive. Pick a use case that best suits your store and make your customer engagement better.

Also, in 2018, Nike followed a data-driven approach to make shopping experience better for its customers via crowdsourcing.

That’s all you need to know about how retail stores across the globe are using QR Codes for varying use cases.

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