QR Code – a technology initially adopted in China has paved the way for revival for small businesses in the post-pandemic world. In fact, many believe QR code technology to be a major reason China could successfully defeat the pandemic.
Now, as contactless technology becomes the new normal, QR codes have emerged as a vaccine to fight COVID-19.
This post will take you through the importance of QR codes in the post-pandemic world.

The Past and Present of QR Codes
Before delving into the importance and applications of QR codes during the pandemic, let's go back in time when QR codes originated. Though they were developed in 1994 in Japan, it wasn't until 2011 when Chinese mobile wallet company Alipay launched QR code payments. A few years later, WeChat, a Tencent-owned messaging app, brought QR code payments to the mainstream.
Were you astonished when WhatsApp launched the in-chat payment feature in February 2018? Well, WeChat did it back in 2014. It allowed Chinese users to use WeChat Pay, an in-built payment feature that allows users to make payments by scanning QR codes.
Soon, countries like Japan, India, and some countries in the EU adopted QR code payments. At that time, everyone thought QR codes would revolutionize digital payments.
But the growth didn't last for long. Some drawbacks of QR codes, like lack of accessibility, inconvenient scanning, and limited curiosity, confined its use only to a handful of countries. Before the pandemic, China, India, Singapore, and Japan remained to be the leading QR code users.
Contrarily, countries like the US still don't have a well-structured QR code system.

QR Codes and COVID-19
QR codes remained to be an Asia-centric concept till the end of 2019. But this was before the pandemic started to cripple humankind. Now, as social distancing has become the new normal, countries worldwide are taking measures to utilize QR code payments.
This comes in response to a statement by the WHO stating that the SARS-CoV-2 can spread through currencies – cash and physical cards. Besides, a list was rolled out that included different surfaces and the active life of the virus on them.
According to the list, the virus could stay active on plastic materials for 2-3 days and on paper for a few minutes to up to 5 days.
While contactless payments like NFC and Apple Pay were prevalent in several countries, the majority of small businesses relied on cash- and card-based transactions. Suddenly, people started practicing social distancing and stopped using physical currency.
This gave small businesses a mighty blow. It became difficult for them to thrive, and they had no choice but to adopt contactless payments. And this change was seen across all industries – retail, restaurants, movie theaters, and more.

QR Codes and Business Success
Even though implementing QR codes was a forced change for many businesses, it shouldn't be considered as a mere tool to fight the pandemic.
The benefits of QR codes go beyond contactless payments. If used strategically, QR codes can become your brand's digital emissary and help you drive the road to digital transformation. Moreover, they make your business pandemic-proof and future-ready.
Here's why businesses should adopt QR code payments in the post-pandemic world.
1. Zero Learning Curve
QR code technology is seamless to implement, learn, and use. All you need to do is use a QR Code generator with logo to generate a QR code for your business. Then, print the code and display it in different areas of your store.
You can put up the code on the entrance gate, billing counter, store walls, and several other places depending upon your business.
QR codes are easy to use for customers as well. They can install an app that supports QR code payments and scan the code through it to make instant, one-click payments.
2. Make Better Use of Your Physical Space
Displaying a QR code requires minimal space. If you have a physical store or outlet, you can print the code and put it up as window stickers, wall posters, or display signs.
The applications of QR codes go beyond contactless payments. You can link the code to your website, app, product page, discount offers, and the list goes on.
3. Promote Your Online Business
As discussed, you can put up QR codes in your physical stores. This can be really helpful if you have started selling online and your customers don't know about it. You can have QR codes in your store along with a clear call-to-action indicating what the code is all about.
Mention along with the code that you've taken your business online, and by scanning this code, customers can reach your eCommerce website or mobile app. More customers than ever are shopping online, and if they admire your product or services, they'll be happy to check you out online.
You can also encourage your customers to check your online store by offering incentives. For example, you can provide a sign-up discount to customers who shop from your online store for the first time.
3. Completely Touchless Experience
As discussed, contactless payments are one of many applications of QR codes. You can use QR codes to make your customers take a wide range of actions. For example, you can put up a QR code on your store's entrance gate and ask customers to scan it to make an appointment.
Thus, you'll be able to avoid any human interaction that would've taken place during in-person appointment scheduling. Similarly, you can display a QR code on your restaurant windows and ask customers to scan the code to order food online.
Also, there's no distance limit in QR code scanning. If your code has a large size and is of high-quality, your customers can scan it from several meters away. Hence, you can offer an entirely touchless experience.
4. Endless Opportunities
It's with mentioning that you can do almost anything with QR codes. Digital payments and linking codes to the website and app comprise the tip of the iceberg. As you delve deeper, more applications unravel.
For example, you can link your QR code to a feedback page and encourage your customers to rate your services. You can also link it to your newsletter and grow your email list. Or, maybe you can offer discounts and coupon codes through QR codes.
5. No Hardware Required
Gone are the days when you had to use futuristic pistol-like tools to scan codes. Nowadays, all mobile phone cameras can scan QR codes. All that customers need to do is install an app that supports QR code scanning.
Therefore, there's no hardware cost associated with using QR codes.
The only expense you need to incur is the cost of QR code generator software. And thanks to the QR Code plan price, you can use a QR code solution without hurting your wallet.

Types of QR Codes
If you're new to the world of QR codes, it's worth learning about the different types of QR codes and their applications. Here's a quick overview of the most common types.
1. Contact QR Codes: These codes are used to transmit contact information. Some common applications include vCard QR codes, social links QR codes, and WhatsApp QR codes.
2. App Store QR Codes: Most consumers use apps like UberEats to order food online. But what if someone doesn't have the app? Here's where app store QR codes come into play. By scanning this code, the consumer can place the order even if he doesn't have the app.
3. Menu QR Codes: As the name suggests, menu QR codes allow consumers to see the menu. In light of COVID-19, restaurants are eliminating the use of physical menu boards. Instead, they're using menu QR codes, which customers can scan to get access to the menu.
4. Payment QR Codes: Payment QR codes are the foundation of contactless payments. By scanning these codes using a mobile wallet app, consumers can make payments without touching any surface.
5. Multi-Country QR Codes: Several companies operate globally and have different franchises worldwide. Multi-country QR codes allow consumers to access country-specific content based on the location at which the code is scanned.

Wrapping Up
What, according to you, makes QR codes unique? Is it the ability to make contactless payments? Maybe because you can link them to any content? Or perhaps because they help you track and measure user actions?
The answer to this question is "all of the above, including more." The use of QR codes is surging, and as the technology advances in the post-pandemic world, we're likely to see more of its amazing applications.

Author's Bio: 

Apoorva Hegde is a Content Marketer at MobStac.