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How Businesses are Using QR Codes During COVID-19

During the coronavirus pandemic, all businesses have had to find ways to adjust and offer customers a touch-free experience.

One of the CDC’s new guidelines for travel is to use contactless options whenever possible and now this is starting to find its way into the customer service world as well.

That means that handling cash and credit cards are being replaced by touch-free payments. At restaurants, physical menus are out and being swapped for digital menus.

Many of these contactless technologies are built around QR codes, which stands for ‘Quick Response’ codes. 

You’ve likely seen QR codes before: the squares filled with dots and patterns. The QR code technology has been around since the mid-1990s, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are making a huge comeback.

In this article, we will look at ways businesses are adapting QR codes to help create contactless commerce.

What is a QR Code?

Barcodes have been around since the 1960s when the POS system became popular. The beeping machines we all hear every day in grocery stores are the precursor to today’s QR code.

In 1994 the Quick Response (QR) code evolved from the initial 20 digit reading capacity of the original barcode to a new 7000 digit reading capability. This increase in data made QR codes ten times faster than their predecessor.

Having access to so many more data points enables a lot of new uses for QR codes. you can find them on business cards, included on presentations at conferences, you can even see them painted on buildings.

QR codes are commonly used for holding data, including:


  • Simple text such as welcome messages at conferences
  • Addresses, Phone numbers, Email addresses
  • URLs of websites or specific web pages
  • Links to app downloads in Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store
  • Information about your bank account or credit card
  • Online authentication: a QR code can allow a person to scan with his or her smartphone and automatically login to a website
  • WiFi authentication: when a QR code is scanned with a smartphone, it can automatically join that network

Other more familiar QR code uses, like pulling up websites, are being used here and there to manage pandemic-related issues.

With the need to increase social distancing and contactless delivery, QR codes are now seeing new uses in 2020. Here are some examples of companies using QR codes in their business:



Contactless Soda Fountains

Coca-Cola has made its popular Freestyle soda machines completely contactless. By updating the machine’s software package, a customer will be able to hold their camera up to the machine’s display which will auto-scan a QR code. The code connects to the cloud and brings the soda fountains machine’s interface directly to their smartphone screen. The customer then selects their beverage from the full menu of options and hits pour.

Virtual Restaurant Menus

Since restaurants opened their doors to dine-in service, several different steps have been taken to create a safe as possible environment.

Now, when you walk into many restaurants you’ll find a QR code on tables or at the front door.  The QR codes allow the patrons to download the menus onto their phones and then once they go to the tables they can order.

Digital menus using QR codes offer more flexibility, as staff can easily update the digital menu to reflect a sold-out dish or add daily specials to the menu.


Tracking COVID with QR Codes

Additional new uses of QR codes involve managing the spread of COVID-19 itself. The TrackCOVID project is doing this with a QR-based mobile app that has proven to be highly effective in detecting and tracing new outbreaks.

TrackCOVID works by creating an anonymous graph of interactions between people. Every time a person gathers with others or goes to a public place, they can use the app to log contacts by either hosting or joining a checkpoint. The first person who registers as the checkpoint host is given a Quick Response code and other people can subsequently join the checkpoint by scanning this QR code. This tracking allows possible paths of virus transmission to be discovered without jeopardizing individual privacy.

Adopting QR Codes into Business

When it comes to growing your business during this pandemic, QR codes could potentially help a great deal. It’s not difficult to implement QR codes into your business. You can roll them out in many unique ways with very little time invested.

The sense of reassurance to your customers is perhaps the most valuable asset during this challenging time, and thankfully we have the technology available. Now is the time to think about how you can innovate with QR codes and what type of actions will help your customers stay safe.

Want to reach more customers online? Brandastic is a digital marketing agency with offices in offices in Orange CountyLos Angeles, and Austin. We can help your businesses grow your online attention and engagement, and drive more business to your website. Get your FREE marketing audit to discover ways we can support and help your business innovate.

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