Will In-Store Bluetooth Beacons Marginalize QR Codes?
Though many fans of QR codes will strongly disagree, I would argue that they haven’t found their “sweet spot” in mobile marketing and must do so relatively soon or be marginalized. Similarly, SMS was once a much touted opportunity for marketers but has since failed to gain widespread marketing adoption.
Despite some statistics showing that as many as 38 percent US adults under 35 have at some point scanned QR codes, most smartphone owners don’t engage with them in any regular or meaningful way. And while they’re quite versatile, core QR codes use cases are now threatened by newer technologies such as iBeacon (“Bluetooth Smart”).
Designed to be a simple way to direct a smartphone user to additional product or marketing content across media types or on product packaging, QR codes have evolved a variety of enhanced capabilities and additional use cases. Exemplifying this is Scanbuy, which just released a smörgåsbord of new capabilities as part of its ScanLife Mobile Engagement Platform.
You can now do a surprisingly wide range of things with QR codes. Witness the following marketing copy from Scanbuy:
- A new and world-class mobile website builder that features over 20 templates and the ability to include photo galleries, embedded YouTube videos and Google Maps, enabling marketers to design a complete site quickly and easily
- The ability to build dynamic, customized consumer experiences that change based on device operating system, time of day, location, language, consumer loyalty, etc.
- A new Create Experience section providing increased functionality and accessibility for one-stop creation with 15 different options to present the user when a mobile trigger is activated such as launch a website, make a call, save a calendar event, send an email or text, display a note, contest winner notification, and more
- Seamless ability to create and publish campaigns to a variety of formats, including Microsoft Tag, QR codes, NFC and dynamic URLs for mobile banner ads or SMS campaigns
There are also sophisticated analytics, which can track a variety of data and activities including engagement lifecycles, audience demographics and location, among other things. One can either see these features as cool and useful enhancements of the QR code or as a desperate last-ditch attempt to remain relevant as other technologies threaten to supersede QR codes for in store and product-related use cases.
As mentioned, one of those potentially “disruptive” technologies is Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0) beacons. Beacons can be placed on every shelf and potentially every product if desired, though cost would be a factor in the latter case. Beacons broadcast promotional or content-related messages that trigger notifications (via apps) on user smartphones. Depending on the beacon installed, they can potentially also “receive” information for analytics purposes.
While it’s very unlikely that retailers (for cost reasons) will equip every product with beacons they illustrate that other tools are now threatening to push QR codes out of view.
QR codes will likely stick around to offer additional information on products and as a way to enhance traditional media (e.g., outdoor, print) content and advertising. There are other potential scenarios too — a recent patent was granted using QR codes as the basis of peer-to-peer money transfers.
But unless that QR code marketing “sweet spot” is found soon, this once promising marketing tool is heading for the remainder bin.
- What Is A QR Code And Why Do You Need One?
- Infographic: QR Code Trends
- QR Codes: Are You Ready For Paper-Based Hyperlinks?
- Are QR Codes Good For Local Marketing? A Contrarian View
- QR Code Scanners (Searchers) Are Affluent, 18-34 Males: comScore
- Stupid Short URL Tricks: Content Swapping, QR Codes, Mobile Microsites & More
- How To Create QR Codes With Optimal URL Strategies In Mind
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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