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Are QR Codes Dead? Do People Still Use QR Codes?

QR Code Menu

QR codes are not dead. And we’ll thank you for not thinking such morbid thoughts.

In fact, they’ve never been more alive. It’s arguable that the cleanliness of businesses—their ability to deliver a germ-free experience—has literally never been more important than it is right now.

The hygiene of the places we spend our money has always been important. But now the stakes are higher. The public’s expectations are higher. Going out to crowded places is not only a risk to you, but to everyone you come in contact with—knowingly and unknowingly.

But it’s a risk we have to accept cautiously and manage responsibly. And businesses that leverage QR codes for contactless customer experiences are leading the charge.

So let’s quantify this new era of QR codes with some QR code statistics. Then let’s look into why they’ve become such a valuable part of the modern commercial experience.

How Many People Use QR Codes? QR Code Statistics.

QR codes are in heavy use across the globe. Here are the five most telling QR code statistics that illustrate that:

  • 11 million households in the U.S. will scan a QR code in 2020 (Statista)
  • 5.3 billion QR code coupons will be redeemed on smartphones by 2022 (Juniper Research)
  • 1 billion smartphones will access QR codes by 2022 (Juniper Research)
  • 91% of users of iOS devices have built-in QR code scanners (App Store)
  • 65% of consumers in China think QR codes on packaging instill trust (Beaconstac)

One of the reasons why QR codes are taking their rightful place in our daily lives is because they’re incredibly easy to make. The proliferation of free QR code generators online prove it. But be wary of those, especially if you’re a business. It’s risky using a free online service when your revenue depends on it.

QR Code Comeback?

QR codes were invented in the 90s, but they didn’t have their hay day until around 2011 or 2012. When smartphones started becoming the truly ubiquitous devices they are today. So, rolling out technology scannable by everyone’s smartphones made sense. 

But there was a problem. Businesses didn’t quite know how to deploy QR codes. People placed them in inconvenient places. They took people to clunky websites that weren’t optimized for mobile devices. The first iteration of QR code use was basically wishful thinking on the part of corporations. They liked the idea of QR codes, but they didn’t execute it well. And so, 10 years ago, QR codes didn’t catch on like some folks predicted.

But QR codes, and our usage of them, has matured. We learned from the dog days of 2011. In that sense, it is a bit of a QR code comeback. Today’s businesses using and generating QR codes are, on a whole, good stewards of the technology. And because they’re now deployed and used optimally, QR codes are legitimately some of the most convenient pieces of tech out there. And that’s doubly true given the importance of hygienic, touchless commerce.

Here are some more statistics, specifically about the growth of QR codes, along with why they’re gaining usage.

Growth of QR Codes

Here is perhaps the most compelling pair of statistics about the growth of QR codes. There was a 26% growth in total QR code scans from 2018 to 2019, according to Blue Bite. That’s phenomenal year-over-year growth. But there was a 35% growth in scans per object over that same time period. That means that there are more total scans and that people are more likely to scan the same QR code more than once. It speaks to the public’s willingness to rely on QR codes. And it speaks to QR codes’ continually expanding roles in our daily lives. They are no longer a novelty. They are immensely useful.

What can explain this growth of QR codes? A few things.

QR Codes Are Hygienic

QR codes unlock the ability for businesses to provide totally sanitary, touchless solutions for their customers. This is especially important in bars, restaurants, and hotels, where cleanliness was already a huge deciding factor for potential customers.

The world has changed and people expect businesses to have their safety in mind, first and foremost. Because everyone personally has that in mind, first and foremost. QR codes allow any type of business to align with the new consumer expectation of immaculate hygiene and consistent safety. 

QR Codes Are Better Than Apps

Running a business today demands an adherence and vigilance to hygiene unlike any other modern era. That’s why so many businesses are digitizing their customer experiences. Take the restaurant industry, for example. Paper menus are the single filthiest thing on a restaurant table. To avoid the risks of contaminating customers, restaurants embrace digital menus. And many of them use menu apps.

But menu apps are expensive to create and require massive amounts of time and energy to maintain, update, and troubleshoot. The lightweight solution to this is using a QR code menu. Guests don’t have to download anything. There’s no coding software from the ground up. They just scan and get taken to a mobile-optimized menu published online.

The same applies to many apps businesses use. Instead of building a proprietary payment app, use a QR code for contactless payments. Instead of creating an internal app for placing orders, a QR code can help power a touchless ordering system.

QR Codes Are Easy to Deploy and Use

Apps are notoriously hard to build and maintain, so it may not be a surprise that QR codes are often better. But even without that frame of reference, QR codes are downright easy to create, distribute, and use.

Let’s use digital menus again as an example. If you’re using a service that creates secure, dynamic QR codes for you, there’s really not much for you to do. And, full disclosure, we have a popular QR-based digital menu that restaurants and hotels depend on. All you’ll do is upload a spreadsheet of your menu information into an online tool. Then you’ll click a button. Congratulations, you’ll have just created a QR code that you can print out, stick, or place anywhere.

QR codes are easy for businesses to use because updating them is as easy as updating the text on a website. You don’t have to update the QR code to update the information encoded in it.

And QR codes are easy for customers to use, too. There’s nothing to download. Learning how to scan a QR code takes a minute or two, tops. But most people already know how to do it, anyway. Want an idea of how easy it is to troubleshoot a QR code issue? Take a look at our guide for if a QR code won’t scan.

QR Code Uses

The uses of QR codes vary, and it depends in large part on whether the QR code is a static or dynamic QR code. Here’s the short version of the difference: A static QR code cannot be edited after it’s created.A dynamic QR code can. For obvious purposes, dynamic QR codes are the far better choice for virtually every QR code use case. Especially for businesses.

Let’s take a look at some of those use cases.

QR Code Marketing

QR code marketing was the first major use of QR codes. That’s because it’s simple. It doesn’t ask that the QR code provide any substantive interaction opportunities for the customer. Like ordering or paying, for example. It simply puts promotional information about a company, product, deals, service, or event in front of the customer.

In this sense, the more places the QR code is placed, the better. In magazines, on products, on packaging, on receipts, in emails, you name it. QR codes are an almost effortless way to put what makes your business special in front of your (potential) customers.

One popular way to do this is using QR code templates. Print out a pre-formatted template that makes it clear as day what to do (scan the QR code). Your QR marketing will get a lot more engagement.

QR Code Menus

QR code menus are perhaps the most compelling example of the value QR codes bring to today’s commercial landscape. They allow for untold agility for high-traffic businesses that rely on menus, catalogs, or price lists. Especially if those businesses opt to use flexible HTML files instead of QR code PDFs.

As we stated before, restaurant menus are the single dirtiest thing on restaurant tables. The National Restaurant Association, in fact, recommends discarding paper menus after each use. So, first, a contactless menu releases bars, restaurants, and hotels from these creeping costs. And second, it signals to your guests that you’re not messing around with their safety.

Restaurant cleanliness was one of the primary factors people considered when going out to eat before COVID-19. That’s true by orders of magnitude now. Using a QR-based contactless menu is the clearest indicator that a hospitality business is taking post-COVID hygiene seriously.

But embracing digital menus isn’t the only way restaurants and retail businesses can work toward germ-free experiences for their customers.

End-to-End Touchless Commerce Experience

Digital menus are just the first way hospitality businesses can safely reopen and deliver end-to-end touchless experiences. The other two are contactless ordering and contactless payments.

Ordering

When a guest scans a QR code for your digital menu or catalog, they’re redirected to a mobile-optimized site. There they can add items to a shopping cart. Submitting that order either creates a QR code for an employee to scan or sends the transaction directly to an employee. Either way, you’re able to communicate what you want with just a few clicks.

Payment

Likewise, anytime a business charges someone for anything, they can generate a unique QR code for it. That QR code will have a transaction identifier encoded in it. It tells a customer’s device how much they owe and to where to send the money. When they scan the QR code with their payment app of choice, the app reads the amount, the transfer location, and initiates the transfer.

So, Are QR Codes Dead?

Not by a long shot. Anyone who says or thinks so isn’t paying attention. People still use QR codes. How many people use QR codes? Billions. And it’s growing. As it became easier to optimize websites for mobile devices, QR codes gradually became more useful. Today, we’re a mobile-optimized economy. And QR codes are almost invaluable. Especially to any business that wants to embrace the post-COVID hygiene standards that hundreds of millions of people now dutifully observe and fiercely protect.

If you’re a bar, restaurant, or hotel and you’re looking to make a change for the better, reach out to us. We create, deploy, and support QR-based digital menus and digital wine lists for some of the top businesses in the industry. They’re inexpensive, easy to use, and, importantly, they’re the responsible choice. The future of business isn’t just digital, it’s touchless.