I want to let people install a mobile app after visiting a physical shop. My first go-to was a QR code, but I was wondering if people actually use them. Should I give a second option? What are your thoughts on this?
TL;DR: Not that popular currently but might become so again in the future. In your case I'd look for an additional option if possible.
Edit: Because of RonJohn's comment and the many people who agreed, I decided to remake the charts in "true" form, so the numbers look less manipulative.
Scanova.io cites a few surveys across the years and claims it's on the rise:
In 2014, Adobe Systems conducted a study on QR Code usage over a period of three months. The study covered four countries—Germany, France, UK, and the US.
According to a recent survey by Statistia, in the US alone, an estimated 11 Million households will scan a QR Code in 2020. This is an increase from an estimated 9.76 Million scans in 2018.
They also make a good point how it's widely used in a few big Asian countries, especially China:
WeChat—which is predominantly used in China—made the nation obsessed with QR Codes in the last few years. The Chinese scan QR Codes to make payments, get information, authenticate themselves, avail offers, and for practically every other use case.
Personally, I'm not too convinced. I barely ever see QR codes being used (living in a western EU country), not by people I know and also not in public.
This mediag.com article makes a good point about it:
A lot of people hear “QR code” and think, “2011 called, and they want their marketing tactic back.” However, they’re starting to plateau, and even make a comeback since their huge dip in popularity in 2014-2016.
So, seems like they're not very popular currently but might become so again in the future? Hard to tell. But for your use case this means that it wouldn't be a bad idea to have an alternative to it (since not everyone might have a QR code scanner app installed).
Real Life Example
Interestingly enough, after saying how I never see them here, I just received this in my mail today :)
This is a really good example, as you can clearly see how two options are given. As Bergi said in his comment under the question, the QR-link should be provided in human-readable form as well.
In the US and Western Europe it's not used much. The stats are actually quite dismal. I see very few applications generating interest in QR codes. Skiing and hiking trails where one doesn't need to take off ones gloves is a niche-market exception.
On the other hand QR codes are really big in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea so if your market has a lot of East-Asian customers, especially East-Asian tourists, then I would include QR codes in all promotional material.
For example I put a QR code on my business card. It links to my website. I think of it as a stamp - analogous to stamps used with wax back in the day to authenticate ones signature; or like the red-ink stamps used in China, Japan, Korea.
In the US people look at my card and they go - "hey, looks good." It's perceived more like artwork, as an icon. I've given out 100s of cards at Meetups and am unaware of anyone going to my site via the card.
However, when I was in China the perception was much different. A large percentage of people took out their phones - on the spot - and scanned the QR code. I was so glad that I had updated my site before travelling.
The perception, the awareness, the comfort level regarding QR codes is far different in other countries and other cultures.
I've actually done a fair amount of work with QR codes in the past. It all depends on their implementation. If you simply slap a QR code on a poster - not so helpful. If it has a purpose and an incentive - people WILL scan them. They are widely popular in some countries. Basically - you've gotta give someone a reason to scan it.
You should have a QR code, whether on screen or paper. It is important to note that both Android and iOS come with default QR readers. QR code is the easiest way to pass a URL. Unless your application is on the App Store, it will be difficult to get to the application download page without a QR code.
Just yesterday I used a new Amazon feature where I bring an unpackaged item to be returned to the UPS Store, show them a QR code, and be on my merry way. It was incredible.
I'm seeing more and more QR codes finally make their way into the consumer space. I would say it's a pattern that is gaining popularity and that more "civilian" users will continue to become comfortaBLE WITH.
I think you should provide multiple options that people are likely to have, and let them choose. That might include:
- URL (if it's dead easy to remember/type)
- App name (so they can search for it in an app store)
- QR code
- Twitter handle for the app or your shop (then a link in your bio)
Aim for flexibility without too many options - three is probably enough. Maybe even get some business cards printed with the same info on so they can take it with them for later, if they don't want to mess around with their phones right there.
Regarding usage, I don't see them used day to day. However, whenever I make a poster for a conference I always put one on that links to a PDF of it. Seems to be well appreciated and it's getting more common.
Definitely I would go with QR Code. But I will also show them icon and name of the app; and a website. On website you could have a link for ios/android app. The people who use QR code will find it painless to scan and reach the intended app whereas its a hassle to go to website, or app store to install app, too many taps. Showing them icon boosts the user(who use qr code) confidence that they landed on right place at the same time give other people option to find your app.
I think the fact that even Chrome support a feature to provide a QR code for a web page instead of using links suggests that it is popular enough that it is accepted by just about everyone in the world now.
In many countries (like China) QR codes are already part of the normal day-to-day life as far as online activities and digital transactions go. For other countries, the changes introduced as a result of the pandemic has meant that digital ways of transacting are more acceptable and encouraged.
Suffice to say, compared to when the question was first asked, it is definitely used and accepted by the public in general.
OH! I should also note that by adding a QR code to your print material, you can actually build in metrics you wouldn't otherwise have. Since it uses a URL you can track all sorts of information (user location, device, number of scans, user pathways - all the usual). Another important reason why you want to put practices in place that will incentive your audience to actually scan.
A QR code technology can be said as an updated version of Barcode technology.QR code can be easily generated with QR code generator and it can be scanned via smartphone or 2-d scanner. But how can QR code be used in business? Business Cards
In this modern generation, QR codes are the successors to barcodes which have gained popularity in recent years. There are more than a few reasons that are why QR code is better. QR code is versatile, it can be used for anything and everything, scan QR code and store information. There are several big brands who are utilizing asset tracking via QR code. Therefore, it proves that asset tracking is successful with the QR code assistance.
QR code is more than just asset tracking. QR code is used to track more than names and prices of products, this will include information as serial number, part number, lots and dates, and other data. A QR code system is meant to serve you in the best and easy way.
You can manage, maintain and track your inventory in the best possible way. Implement it as soon as you can and track your inventory effectively and efficiently. QR code inventory management is easier to handle and work with because the QR codes are typically easy to read through mobile phones and they don’t require the bulky hand-held scanners to read them.
How would you deliver a QR code to a person after they visit a shop? That seems to be a scenario which requires more thought in that you must somehow remember some details of each person that enters and exits the shop in order to communicate with them, then send the QR code to them (doing so digitally would necessitate a QR scanner that can scan local image files, not all do that) or have them go to the QR code (inherently impractical).
I strongly encourage you shift your approach to one whereby you seek to have each store visitor use the QR code while instore. Even if it is on the backside of the entrance doorway for them to see as they leave (though, you could cause congestion on the entrance by placing a QR code there).
To decrease friction on whatever mobile platform the visitor uses, aim to provide the features of Firebase Dynamic Links either using Firebase Dynamic Links, a similar 3rd party service, of implementing your own logic on a web application that can forward to the appropriate store listing if the visitor does not already have the app installed.
As for a second option, your aim is to have the visitor install a mobile app and I assume that that app is the official app of the store: advertise the benefits of the app within the store and make the call to action in such advertising be a search term that has a very high chance of yielding the target app towards the top of the search results for whatever mobile platform store the visitor prefers. That way you arm the visitor's memory with the information necessary to search and find your target application ad-hoc, after they have left the store and in the case they overlook or decide against using the QR code mechanism.
My experience with QR code usage in China was:
- QR codes were generally placed near the cash register/checkout point.
- Sometimes QR codes were placed near entrances or on tables.
- Colleagues would utilise QR codes and pay using WeChat without my noticing, as I fumbled to find the correct change to pay with.
- Never did a QR code open a website, rather they would deep-link into WeChat.
Since many people are offering extra information about the proliferation of QR code usage worldwide, it seems that emerging markets in South-East Asia believe that standardisation in QR codes for payments is necessary: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Philippines have each introduced national standards for QR code payments: https://www.opengovasia.com/a-commitment-to-grow-e-payments-in-the-philippines/