The QR Code’s Big Retail Comeback

Until recently, the QR code was one of the great contenders in the race to ignite mobile commerce. But according to new reserach from Juniper, the humble QR code may be facing a rich second life as a driver of mobile loyalty.

New data released by the firm indicated that 1.3 billion mobile QR code coupons were estimated to have been redeemed last year, and the figure is set to grow by a lot — to 5.3 billion by 2022. Juniper also assigned a 2022 deadline for 4 billion mobile-enabled loyalty cards being activated by 2022 — nearly doubling the 2017 rate.

The QR-based coupon redemptions, according to Juniper, will occur across 1 billion phones and take a major boost from the fact that Apple has finally decided to include a QR code scanner in its iPhone product.

Despite a past littered with sad — and in some cases hilarious — misses, QR codes have enjoyed something of a renaissance, as players have begun using them as a nearly universal tool for consumer engagement. On top of that, consumers usually needed a special mobile app to turn their smartphone cameras into coupon scanners, which dampened enthusiasm for use. As Apple has moved to embed the technology, enthusiasm is seeing a big uptick, even in previously resistant markets.

“Apple’s addition of QR code-reading facilities directly addresses a major barrier for use in Western markets. The lack of an in-built reader had been a hindrance, with consumers needing to download a separate QR code scanner app,” researcher Lauren Foye noted.

As consumers have grown more receptive, retailers have become more innovative in their offerings, making payments, savings and certain in-store promotions available through QR code scanning.

The tech still has its doubters — some note basic QR codes are likely targets for easy disruption.

“With augmented reality, NFC and photo recognition all on the cusp of becoming mainstream, I think we’ll see a drop in QR codes — but, until then, we have some great fodder to work with,” one QR blogger told PYMNTS in late 2017.