For years the small black and white squares were something of a marketing joke. Originally developed in Japan, Quick Response codes, or QR codes as we’ve come to call them, failed to catch on in America. Things for the small squares started to change, however, when Apple enabled its iPhone camera to read the codes in 2017, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, QR codes seized their moment in the marketing spotlight.

Nowhere is the now ubiquitous code more prevalent in our COVID-19 conscious world, than in restaurants where 50% of restaurants now utilize them according to the National Restaurant Association. In an effort to reduce high touch surfaces and limit face-to-face interactions, eateries across the country swapped their physical menus for QR codes during the past year and a half. These codes, whether placed in acrylic frame on each table or taped down, directed guests to online menus where they could place their order online, and also pay.

But restaurants aren’t the only places adopting QR codes. These days you can find QR codes anywhere from the grocery store aisle, to individual products, to receipts and signage. And they aren’t just practical, the New York Times estimates that QR codes save businesses approximately 30-50% on labor costs and result in increased purchase amounts.

Shop from your Phone
Easily drive traffic to your ecommerce equipped website by including a QR code on print ads, mailers, or handouts.

Event Registration
Quickly gather event registrant information or estimate attendance by directing a QR code to a site like Eventbrite for easy registration.

VIP Sign-up List
Collect email subscribers by including a QR code on receipts or flyers.

Scan to Pay
In an effort to help small businesses during the pandemic, PayPal rolled out a touchless payment option. Small businesses can create a PayPal-generated QR code which allows customers a contactless payment option when paying in stores. They then partnered with VistaPrint to offer a line of products specifically designed for small businesses to promote this payment option.

Customer Surveys
Looking to collect feedback following a sale? Add a QR code to the bottom of your receipts that links directly to a free survey program such as Survey Monkey or Google Survey.

Scan and Learn
Perhaps you want to provide additional information about a product than what you can fit on the packaging, or maybe you want to give consumers a way to learn more about a particular vendor – by adding a QR code either to the product itself or signage around the display allows consumers to learn more prior to making a purchase.

Contest Entry
Holding a contest? Easily collect entries (and contact information) by having customers enter contests via a QR code.

Review Sites
There’s no doubt that review sites are more powerful than ever these days but pushing customers to those sites can be a challenge. If you’re looking to boost your reviews consider including a flyer with a QR code that links to your business page on a specific review site or a landing page with all of the sites to orders, or adding it to receipts.

Pictured: Richmond grocery store, Good Foods Grocery uses a QR code to provide additional information about a local vendor.