QR Codes: Moving Beyond the Scan

QR codes got somewhat of a bad rap early on.

It wasn’t that the two-dimensional codes couldn’t be easily read with a smartphone, it was more of what happened after.

Many marketers, publishers and even some businesses became so enamored with the codes’ easy ability to route someone to a website that they neglected to take the next steps.

The ease of use, with anyone able to get a free QR code creator on the Web, made the front end of the process a breeze. The problem was that most of the value creation is on the back end, which many marketers ultimately realized.

The key is that QR codes, like NFC (near field communication) and other quick mobile triggers, are just that: triggers that can lead to an engagement well beyond a static website.

Scanbuy, an early QR code pioneer, today introduced a new platform that deals with refining that back-end process.

The company hopes that consumers who scanned codes in the past will give it another try, now that the codes can lead to better experiences.

“Someone used to be able to create a code but it just linked to a website,” Scanbuy CEO Mike Wehrs told mCommerce Daily. “Now it starts with what do you want to do, not what code do you want.”

The new platform includes templates for marketers to create unique experiences after a scan. These can be dynamic and customized results that change based on factors like device operating system, time of day, location and consumer loyalty. The mobile website builder lets companies embed YouTube videos, Google Maps and photo galleries.

And this is where commerce can come in. After the scan, various other activities can be launched, such as making a call, receiving a contest winner notification, displaying a note or sending a text or email.

One example of a code-generated engagement was mega-retailer Tesco, which created a 360-degree view of a field with cows and assorted information triggered by a QR code scan.

Code scanning continues to increase, based on Scanbuy’s tracking, and Wehrs says the company logged 89 million interactions last year and 85 million Scanlife apps have been downloaded.

The other back-end aspect is the tracking of data points, such as the distribution of scanning activity, first-time customers, campaign comparisons, engagement lifecycles and demographic and location stats.

QR codes are growing up.

9 comments about "QR Codes: Moving Beyond the Scan".
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  1. Matt Cooper from Addroid, March 20, 2014 at 1:01 p.m.

    A good step but nothing new. These guys have done exactly this for the last 3 years -

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 20, 2014 at 1:08 p.m.

    Yes, Matt, they've been in the QR business for years (I used their code on my first mobile book a few years back), but not with all these self-service capabilities.

  3. Charles Mason from Charles Mason Inc, March 20, 2014 at 3:38 p.m.

    Hi Matt and Chuck.

    Sorry but this article and both of you are COMPLETELY missing the point of why QR codes are not taking off... Recognition of code in the Default Camera App!!! The FACTS; Apple default camera app does NOT work with QR codes and I do not believe, please correct me if I'm wrong, that neither does many Android, Window or any mobile OS. So what is the consumer left to do? Let's count the steps;

    1. See Advertisement.
    2. Want more information
    3. Recognize QR code as valid source of information and value over
    Steps from here on how depend on the situation... but let's take guy in restroom for example and the guy wants information but is standing at Urinal, so now he must (Steps continued)
    4. Pull phone out with ONE hand (no major issue... unless holding a drink.)
    4.1 Set drink down, balancing it on the Urinal in front of him, hoping it doesn't crash.
    4.1.1 If un-buttoned, versus un-zipped, push hand into front/back pocket gentle enough to not push pants down in restroom while standing at urinal risking complete humiliation!
    5. Secure phone in hand in correct position so phone doesn't fall into urinal (more opportunity for humiliation!)
    6. Position phone, post securing it, to operate the phone with one hand.
    7. Unlock phone (with one hand, but let's assume he doesn't have a complex passcode.)
    8. Type simply passcode (which most guys do have.)
    9. Locate App that can actually recognize QR codes, which isn't used daily, so this takes more time then needed and this guy must REALLY want that information.
    10. Once app is open, point camera to QR code, hoping like hell it isn't across some other "bigger, meaner, pissed off looking guy. (skinny nerds need not apply.).
    11. Wait for App to focus and click the putting to take the picture of the QR code.
    12. Not wait for App to go online (oh wait, we are in a bar, which might not have signal!).
    13. Must lock phone or put phone in pocket without locking risking pocket dialing, closing app, etc.
    14. Re-secure pants and man parts with both hands.
    15. Zip/button up pants.
    16. Re-secure drink.
    17. Flush urinal assuming it's not automatic.
    18. Make it a point to either; A. make sure every knows that your taking a picture in a restroom for a rest... the QR code. B. make it a point not to make eye contact.
    19. Wash hands.
    20. Heading back out into bar, pull phone out again.
    21. Unlock phone again.
    22. Type simply passcode again.
    23. See if you have signal, if so hope like hell that the App hasn't lost the information of the QR code.
    24. Wait for App to send information to server, server to App, App to Browser, Browser opens and provides information that the guy wanted.

    So what have we learned today, other then I'm some ass that actually cares about UX within Marketing... QR code WILL NOT TAKE OFF UNTIL DEFAULT APPLE CAMERA APP RECOGNIZES QR CODES!!!

    "89 million interactions" Interactions = HITS. It's a BS "big" fake number.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 20, 2014 at 4:36 p.m.

    Thanks for your interesting QR scenario, Charles, though not sure how many marketers are targeting codes at consumers at urinals. In any case, your point about there being multiple steps is, even just having to download a coder reader app, is valid. Of course, NFC does not require any of this, but then there is the obvious issue of not all phones being NFC equipped.

  5. J. Bicer from Sekur Me, March 20, 2014 at 9:02 p.m.

    QR Codes are a way to visually package a small amount of information to transfer to a device, usually a smartphone. The best use of QR codes is not the links that most people use. You can pass information to an app already on the device. One of the best uses is for mobile payments. Even in the urinal, our sample case could have pulled his phone, launched the mobile payment app, scan the QR code to purchase whatever product that was advertised there. No data entry to purchase was provided. See for 30 second video of how it would work.

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 20, 2014 at 9:15 p.m.

    Right, J, though there is the inherent issue of modified POS systems to make that work. And in China, the Bank of China a few days ago is banning QR codes being used for mobile payments, at least at the moment.

  7. Charles Mason from Charles Mason Inc, March 21, 2014 at 6:25 p.m.

    Hi J and Chuck... tons of example of bathroom QR codes; Coors, Budweiser, Crown, etc, etc. J, I understand and agree that it "can" /could/ be used for so much more but so could WAP... but isn't and thus it will either slowly die the same way WAP did or Apple will pick it up and then and only then will we see a big explosion of QR codes. Also J, the point is that the consumer will have to download that specific App, create a login, place financial information and then start using the App. It's not a case of, pull out camera snap picture and until it does... fail! BTW, who owns the Patent on that use of QR codes, I don't know but positive they would come out of the woodworks the moment someone BIG launches it, as it's not a open standard I assume.

  8. Charles Mason from Charles Mason Inc, March 21, 2014 at 6:28 p.m.

    Let me say, I do know that QR codes are an open standard... I was focusing on the "buy/pay through the method of taking a photo" Ie. QR code.

  9. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, March 22, 2014 at 8:22 p.m.

    Yes, Charles, there are different QR code payment systems all vying for a piece of retail and all around the world.

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