• Barcode Ireland Team

QR (Quick Response) codes in retail

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

The natural extension of the UPC barcode.

Black and white QR code image

Released in 1994 by Japanese firm Denso Wave, the QR code is a natural extension of the UPC barcode unveiled by IBM 20 years previously. Originally designed to track car parts in the automotive industry in Japan, it has now a variety of use-cases across many industries, including retail.

The all too familiar QR (Quick Response) image of black squares and dots on a white background within a grid can be scanned by any modern smartphone and having an extremely fast response time is aptly named. Holding exponentially more data than UPC barcodes, a QR code that symbolises purely arithmetical data can retain up to 7,000 characters, these 2D codes have many uses in retail from attracting/retaining new customers, to improving their in-store experience and thus enabling the retailer to compete with e-commerce.

Mobile phones are an interactive method in which retailers can connect with their customers by directing a customers to their Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking accounts. A QR code can take customers to a mobile e-commerce site, a product demonstration or Youtube and are indispensable when retailers launch online campaigns or advertisements.

QR codes found in retail

Coupon QR code

Email QR code

Text QR code

PDF QR code

Location QR code

Video QR code

Call QR code

How QR codes are used in retail

Efficient internal processes

Like the 1 D UPC/EAN barcode, QR Codes allow for greater speed and control in a businesses internal processes, allowing for more efficient and agile customer service.

Increase Website Traffic

QR codes can be linked to a websites landing page, driving traffic to business online. In this way Google is able to see the retailer is invested in upgrading the content on their website and business and this will increase the web traffic.

Online checkout

By placing a QR code on products, shoppers can purchase products they like in the store online and have them delivered straight to their doorstep. Self-service, safe and practical.

Customer service

Text QR code or a Call QR codes allow customers to easily and directly access customer service from the store improving quality of service and customer retention.

Loyalty programs

Signing up customers to loyalty programmes is as quick as the scan of a QR code avoiding hold ups at the checkout.  Consumers who have scanned the QR code can also be retargeted online on Google and Facebook.

Special offers and discounts

Discount codes can be linked to a QR code allowing for a more streamlined shopping experience. Customers can even purchase the item online with the coupon code already applied at checkout.

Social media

Customers can follow, like and engage retailers on social media with the scan of a QR code and retailers can direct shoppers to the stores Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.

Customer information

Generating QR codes for products expands customer access to important information, for example, disclosing the nutritional table and origin of the product if it is from the food industry.

Customer feedback

All important customers appreciate when retailers respect and incorporate their feedback.

Navigation to store

QR codes can be used by retailers to help customers navigate to the store by using a location QR code linked to Google Maps. These codes can also be used in store windows making information accessible instantaneously after hours.

Navigation in store

QR codes can be used in store to curate an experiential shopping experience.

QR codes on packaging

Approximately one third of consumer decision-making is based purely on a product’s packaging. QR codes are trendy and in line with aesthetically pleasing and minimalistic design.

App downloads

Downloading a retailers app is as simple as the scanning of the QR code to the customers respective App Store.

Contact information

A vCard QR code saves customers information right on the mobile phone obviating the need for manual entry.


From a marketing point of view, the code’s appearance is unique, interesting and trendy, increasing the likelihood of customer engagement in any campaign where it might be employed.

QR codes can be used to track digital performance metrics, demonstrating which campaigns are successful based on the number of scans and enabling real time adjustments. These can be exported to Google Analytics to gain more insight into target audiences.

Not only are QR codes more cost effective than traditional marketing campaigns, they are easier to deploy.

Market competition

Many retailers retailers have successfully started using QR code campaigns and it's therefore crucial for the rest of the market to keep up with the technology trend to stay well with the market competition.

Customers expect retailers to be abreast of technology.

Generating QR codes

There are many inexpensive to free QR code generators online. The generation process is quite straightforward. To use a QR code generator, simply enter the text, URL, phone number, SMS or vCard information that you want to be scannable. In a matter of seconds the website will create a fully functional QR code.

There are manifold applications for QR codes in retail. Creative use of the technology may result in even further unexpected advantages when engaging customers and boosting sales.

Our barcodes work internationally. Should you require barcodes for your product, please visit our Buy page www.barcodeireland.ie/buy, or contact us on info@barcodeireland.ie or through the contact form on our website www.barcodeireland.ie/contact and let Barcode Ireland help your business.






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