8 minute read

Are businesses leveraging the true power of QR codes?

Touchless purchasing during the pandemic is opening new doors for discovering and verifying information.

Minimalistic products on store shelves

What began as a way for touchless purchase during the pandemic is opening new doors for discovering and verifying information. 

At the start of the pandemic, the QR allowed us to connect with brands and businesses in ways we missed. You could place an order a your favorite restaurant you could no longer walk into, find the online schedule for the yoga studio that closed in your neighborhood, order your morning coffee out the window, and so much more. Now they serve as proof points for vaccinations, gamification at sporting events, interactive designs in museums, and more. 

Other countries, like China, have been using QR codes to submit payments, authenticate themselves, send offers for purchase, receive information, and more. The U.S. caught up quickly when the pandemic hit, especially with the September iOS 11 updates to include the built-in reader in the camera reader. As per a report by Gartner, 80% of the order, checkout, and payment services will become contactless by 2024. 

QR code usage statistics

A recent survey in the United States found that 45 percent of responding shoppers had used a marketing-related QR code in the past three months (Statista, June 2021). The share was highest among respondents aged 18 to 29. It was also found that 59 percent of respondents believed that that QR codes would be a permanent part of using their mobile phone in the future. Brands and businesses small or large have a new way to communicate directly with their customers at two of the most most important points in the customer journey – the purchase decision, and post-purchase interaction.

And so we ask the question, now that the QR codes are no longer a way to track manufacturing processes, what will brands do with the power to provide their customers with impactful, in-the-moment information? AND how can this benefit you as a brand? 

Below are a few ideas to interrupt the current use of QR codes and add another layer to the customer experience. 


In the end, we all want the same thing from brands, products, and services – an epic experience that fuels connection that is too damn good not to talk about. Pick the one thing that is worth sharing. Do you have unique manufacturing processes? Are you woman-owned What are the golden nuggets worth telling the world? What sets your brand apart from the rest? 

When you tell a good story, other people will retell it. Allow the QR code to be a portal to your brand’s narrative. 


We all know how frustrating it is to read through extensive manuals and follow written instructions. Also, what a waste of paper! Then we turn to Google and end up watching the first 30 seconds of ten videos, until we finally find the answer we are looking for. 

Allow the QR code to be a portal to how to use your product to make it easier for your customers to understand, use and trust the product and your brand. Send customers directly to a playlist of how-to video tutorials about their purchase, your products, and the brand. 

And if you don’t have a video no worries, silk t-shirts require washing instructions too! Share your How-To in words. 

It’s time you got inventive with how you set your customer up for the best possible interaction with their new purchase, especially if you have the resources!


A call to action prompts an action to do something next! With Real Codes you can include that both on your packaging and wherever the code takes you. Below are several ides:

  • Cross Selling: Recommend other similar products or products that could enhance their current purchase. Pick relevant and useful related products that will directly impact their interaction with their current purchase.
  • Discount Codes: Everyone loves a good discount! Offer a promocode for customers to use when they give you their email or follow you on social media!
  • Feedback + Reviews: Ask for feedback through forms or polls. Request a review. Don’t forget to reward your customer when they do so!
  • Follow on Social Media: Build your community by prompting your customers to follow you on social media. Offer a something in return when they tag you in a post or story!
  • Access Exclusive Content: Give your customers something special like a how-to video, recipe guide, brand story, etc. This content will deepen their relationship with the product and your brand. And furthermore inspire them on all the ways they can leverage the product in their life!
  • Loyalty Programs: Prompt the customer to join your loyalty program so you can develop trust and a long-term relationship.


If you need more convincing this is where products are heading, total smart product activations grew 63% and interactions increased 81% from 2018-2020, while the growth in the number of interactions per active object grew 48%. This amounted to total smart product reach growing 92% over the same period.

QR codes are no longer novel. They are a portal to more information, a deeper experience, and fully a part of the customer journey. 

How will you interrupt the current use of QR codes and create something extraordinary, useful, and memorable for your customers? 

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About Authentic Labs

Authentic Labs are the developers of Real®, a platform for marketers to organize, host, and deliver smart and active and product and transparency content from packaging. 

Join Real and promote your brand’s transparency and sustainability efforts for free, then add products and smart experiences as needed.