The New Marketing Opportunity for the E-commerce Industry is QR Codes

The e-commerce industry has gained a new level of momentum with the massive demand for online shopping nowadays. This is the perfect opportunity for e-commerce business owners and marketers to increase their marketing and customer communication efforts across the board so that they can sustain them in the future. So how to do this? With QR Codes, you can combine print and digital marketing with easily accessible information that promotes mobile platforms – and that’s a recipe for e-commerce success.

How has the e-commerce industry been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

While many industries have unfortunately suffered massive losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, the e-commerce industry has been one of the industries that has largely benefited from the current situation. In an extensive study on the impact on the e-commerce industry in the US, there are a few major aspects to take note of:

  • Over 1 in 5 consumers have switched to purchasing products online rather than in-store.
  • More than 1 in 3 consumers expect to spend more on online marketplaces due to the coronavirus.
  • Books and literature, health and medicine, furniture and home decor, and retail e-commerce marketplaces experienced massive increases in website traffic as of March 2020.
  • 1 in 3 e-commerce business owners expects their business to grow as a result of the coronavirus.

This online shopping trend is nothing new. During 2019, global e-commerce sales grew by between 10 and 25% across various regions, with a worldwide average of about 20%. So with the situation we have now, those numbers could be even higher than expected for this year. These numbers should encourage e-commerce businesses to consider how they will react to these trends now and in the future. 

Why are QR Codes useful for the e-commerce industry during coronavirus and beyond?

Even though the demand for online shopping may decrease after social distancing regulations end, there is still the large possibility that those online shoppers will continue to shop online, because they’ve understood the convenience and have gained trust in particular brands. So, while there is the opportunity to engage users through online channels more than ever before, e-commerce businesses should take the time to reevaluate their marketing strategies so they are prepared to continue engaging these customers over the long run.

If there was a way to do exactly that both for print and online marketing, wouldn’t you want to know how this works? It does exist and it comes in the form of QR Codes.

Everyone can use them

Anyone with a smartphone can scan QR Codes, which is a major reason why they’ve become so popular for information sharing during the coronavirus. Many newer smartphones can scan them directly through their camera and in any case, they are always scannable with a third-party app. QR Codes can store large amounts of data, take mere seconds to scan, and also come with automatically mobile-optimized content, so they perfectly suit mobile shopping for the e-commerce industry.

Safe for social distancing regulations

Another reason why QR Codes are one of the top technology choices during the coronavirus is that they support social distancing. As long as the QR Code is large enough and has high enough image quality, there is no limit to how far away the QR Code can be scanned. As a result, QR Codes make it easy to access information without having to physically touch anything. Because they are so safe to use, they’ve even been used in the healthcare industry and to help regulate coronavirus management in China.

Depiction of a woman scanning a large QR Code from a distance.
QR Codes have a large scan radius and don’t require physical touch to scan 

Easily connect print to digital

When you combine the above two benefits with the fact that QR Codes are the key element that connects print to digital, it’s easy to see why they’ve become so valuable not just during the coronavirus, but also for marketing campaigns and business processes.

Example of a QR Code on a billboard ad.
A QR Code on a billboard ad for a mobile shopping app 

If you take a print advertisement like a billboard ad, for example, it’s likely promoting the purchase of a certain product, so the reader still needs a way to access that landing page to make a purchase. Without a QR Code, they have to search for that link separately, which is often too inconvenient, meaning that they were lost as a customer. Plus, traditional billboard ads without QR Codes are untrackable for marketers, because you can’t know for sure which ad motivated a customer to make a purchase. When you use a QR Code, it becomes convenient for both parties, because the link is now easily accessible and trackable, enabling even print advertising ROI to be clearly calculated.

Digital and multi-channel marketing

QR Codes can also be used for digital marketing campaigns due to short URLs. Short URLs are basically a condensed and speedier version of all the content connected to a QR Code. So, in the case that you’d like to use QR Codes on social media, for example, you can either add a QR Code image, a short URL, or both. This ensures that users of every platform can access your content in a way that’s easier for them. Short URLs are also “short,” which looks better on graphic designs and are also extremely secure.

Example of a QR Code on an Instagram post.
A QR Code on an Instagram post encourages engagement with online beauty products

This concept of print to digital also applies to multi-channel marketing. Maybe you’d like to test marketing campaigns across different print and digital platforms, or you’d like to compare various locations, time periods, or even different smartphone operating systems. Either way, QR Codes make this easy, because all the tracking info is in one place and you can create multi-channel campaigns that use the same QR Code. 

E-commerce industry marketing with QR Codes

To provide some insight into just how well QR Codes integrate with e-commerce marketing, here are a few examples of how this works both in print and digital. 

Magazine ads

Print magazine ads work well for the e-commerce industry because they focus mainly on product images. The important factor to keep in mind though is that you still need to somehow direct traffic to digital platforms with this print ad, otherwise there is no way to track the related conversions. The image below is a great example of how to use an App QR Code on a magazine ad to make it easy for readers to have the relevant app store links and automatically download your mobile shopping app. You can also display other relevant information on the App QR Code’s display page, such as images or product videos to incentivize readers even further.

Example of a QR Code in a magazine ad.
A print magazine ad promotes a mobile shopping app

Email marketing

Email marketing has the highest ROI of any other marketing method, and this is particularly true with the e-commerce industry because you can combine email marketing with discounts and seasonal sales. Here too, you can promote a mobile shopping app with an App QR Code. Or you might also want to promote social media channels with a Social Media QR Code (such as for a giveaway contest). A third alternative would be to use a Coupon QR Code to create a digital coupon that’s used for a mobile shopping platform. Coupon QR Codes come with display pages that have an optional CTA (call to action) button to send users to a landing page.

Example of a QR Code being used in email marketing.
A QR Code in email marketing makes a mobile shopping app easy to download

App promotion via landing page

QR Codes can be used directly on websites and landing pages as well, which is useful again in the case of encouraging customers to view mobile shopping platforms. An App QR Code fits well here, too, which you could also combine with the above email marketing and print ad campaigns for multi-channel marketing.

Example of an App QR Code on a landing page.
An App QR Code on a landing page makes it easy to download a mobile shopping app

Product packaging

E-commerce marketing isn’t limited to the time before a customer makes a purchase, but can also occur afterward. So, you can use the space on product packaging to encourage further purchases and communication with customers. For example, you could add a Facebook QR Code to a product to get more page likes (customers don’t even need to view your Facebook profile to do so) or use a Social Media QR Code to display all your profile links in one place. You might also consider using a Rating QR Code if you’re testing new products and want to understand which ones customers like the best. All the ratings are then sent to you via automatic email updates. 

Example of a Facebook QR Code on product packaging.
A Facebook QR Code on product packaging encourages page likes

No matter how you use QR Codes, they make that connection to whichever digital platform you’d like to promote so much easier for customers to access. They turn any print medium into a doorway for them to walk through and engage with your brand anytime, anywhere, through the convenience of their mobile devices. 

Adriana Stein

Adriana Stein is a Freelance Content Writer for Egoditor GmbH and is originally from Oregon, USA. She is now based in Hamburg, Germany, and specializes in creating and managing SEO and content marketing strategies for businesses across a variety of industries. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn!

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