Prepare Your Small Business for the Effects of COVID-19 Using QR Codes

With the coronavirus pandemic unfortunately still at an all-time high, small businesses are struggling worldwide. Businesses that can go digital or already are will come out much stronger when this is over. So, if you’re a small business, especially one that provides in-person services, here are a few ways QR Codes help you transition to digital platforms without spending too much time or money.

What challenges are small businesses facing during the coronavirus pandemic?

Small businesses face a unique challenge, unlike anything in the past. With government mandates to keep businesses closed around the globe, little to no income has business owners highly stressed and unsure of what they can do to get through the coronavirus pandemic. More than 1 in 3 business owners aren’t confident in their business’s financial future due to the combination of massive employee layoffs, widespread budget cuts, and the unfortunate prediction that up to 50% of small businesses in the US will be gone by June of this year.    

What can small businesses do to survive?

While loans may sound like a viable option, with the future of the pandemic still largely unclear, small business owners are hesitant to make such commitments. Countries with the pockets to do so have been trying to help small business owners through this time with grants, but only time will tell if that is truly enough to keep them liquid.

The other challenging element is that businesses who have digitized their processes have a bigger advantage over those that haven’t been able to do so or can’t (consider a business like automotive repairs). So the question at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic is, what resources do you need to become more digital?

Harness the power of social media

While the ease of which a company can go digital depends on what products or services it provides and its audience, businesses can use one digital channel to stay in touch with customers: Social media. Unless you’re paying for ads, using social media requires only time to create your content. It’s basically one of the most cost-effective methods for online marketing as it reaches a wider target audience online. As a result, it’s the number one way that small businesses like yours can stay in touch with customers to incentivize purchases when social distancing rules end.

Develop digital channels

Even if social media is the only digital channel your business has, you can still monitor changes in customer behavior and drive digital brand awareness. The increasing demand for digitalization began long before the coronavirus and will certainly continue to do so after it’s over. It’s also become clear that the more digital a business is, the better they can survive a crisis like a pandemic. So now is the time to build up your digital channels and direct customers there, meaning websites, online shopping platforms, apps, social media, and all forms of digital marketing. An investment in digital (even if it’s just a time investment) is an investment in every single business’s sustainability.

How QR Codes help small businesses become more digital

With the importance of digital channels becoming more and more apparent, the next element to consider is how to develop a strategy. While there are endless options to do so, one of the most flexible and creative tools to jumpstart both digital marketing and print advertising strategies is QR Codes. Your small business can safely communicate with customers, digitally transform your business, and be more prepared for a digital future.

QR Codes have zero learning curve

All you need to scan a QR Code is a smartphone, be it Android or iOS. For newer models, it’s even possible to scan QR Codes automatically with the built-in camera and in any case, you can always use a third-party app. QR Codes are accessible for nearly half the planet, which is a huge reason why they have become more popular for marketing and business.

Connect desktop to mobile seamlessly

QR Code example on a social media post
QR Codes provide seamless interaction between desktop and mobile devices

If you own a small business like a gym or fitness studio, coronavirus restrictions have been especially tough due to strict lockdown measures. Nonetheless, there is still an opportunity to go digital by promoting your online exercise videos. You can use an App Store QR Code to promote an app where your customers can access exercise videos they can do at home. If you don’t have your own app, you might consider using a QR Code to connect to a page on your website with the Dynamic URL QR Code. No matter which option you choose, it’s the fastest way to reach your customers online and prepare for the increasing at-home exercise trends.

Utilize existing physical space

If your small business owns a physical store, you can utilize that space with QR Codes and direct your customers to online platforms. This includes display signs, shop windows, posters, and even table tents. It might be the case that your online channels are new, and customers don’t know where they can find you. Having a QR Code printed at your store is a useful strategy to inform passersby, and it works 24/7.

Transition from physical stores to digital

QR Code on signage at a physical store
Small businesses can use existing shop signs to promote digital channels with QR Codes

A travel agency often has unused spaces like windows and signs to promote their services. What many tourism businesses have decided to do during the pandemic is virtual tours, because you can either have customers pay for access to that online or create interest in travel packages once the pandemic is over. In this case, an App Store QR Code is useful if virtual tours take place on an app. You can also provide a teaser of the virtual tour with a Video QR Code, which includes a customizable CTA (call to action) button that directs users to a landing page or other link.

100% touch-free interaction

QR Codes have been known as a technology hero during the pandemic. They’ve helped China maintain its healthcare system and supported governments with the effort to go cashless. With the combination of their ease of use and the fact that they don’t require any physical touch to work, QR Codes are entirely safe for social distancing. In contrast to NFC technology (think contactless card payments) that does require physical touch to work, there is no limit to the distance that QR Codes can be scanned from. All you need to do is make the QR Code image large enough and have high image quality, so the scan distance becomes limitless.

Elevate print materials with digital buttons

QR Code printed on a store window
QR Codes require no physical touch to interact with and can be accessed from a distance

Shop windows are commonplace for large QR Codes that can be scanned from far distances. For example, a wellness studio or spa can use shop windows to advertise their digital channels so that customers can safely find the information they need without any physical touch. You can use a Video QR Code to connect customers to skincare tutorials online. The same concept also applies to Social Media QR Code that displays all your social media links on one page or even a Coupon QR Code that offers digital coupons to your customers. The best part? You don’t have to keep reprinting in case you need to swap out a video, change a link, or update the terms of your coupons. These can all be updated online at any time.

No QR Code scanner? No problem

Dynamic QR Codes work well for digital marketing methods as well due to their short URLs. Short URLs create a shorter version of your long link and help us compress your QR Codes so they can be scanned faster. You can also customize this link for additional branding to stand out from your competition. Short URLs are useful for digital channels because they make your copies look cleaner (like social media posts) and give your customers the option to access your desktop or mobile content.

Make QR Codes accessible without scanning

QR Code example on an email marketing
QR Codes in email marketing campaigns make app downloads easier

Another digital channel that can be used with QR Codes is email marketing, especially campaigns that are focused on sending customers to mobile shopping platforms. If you have a small business in fashion, you could benefit from using QR Codes to encourage your customers to make purchases online. If you have an online shopping app, you can use an App Store QR Code so that email subscribers can automatically download it, or you can send them to a landing page with a Dynamic URL QR Code on social media posts. Links on Instagram are not clickable, so having easy-to-memorize short URLs help your customers access your content faster.

QR Code possibilities are limitless

QR Codes can be used for pretty much anything. In addition to apps, videos, and social media, QR Codes can also be used for events, sound files, PDFs, images, ratings, and even custom feedback forms. So, no matter what your small business sells, there is certainly a way that QR Codes can help.

Promote your small business 24/7

QR Code on a vehicle to promote restaurant menu
QR Codes can be used on company cars to connect users with online ordering platforms

QR Codes have been lending a helping hand to the restaurant industry as a whole during the coronavirus because they promote online ordering systems via app or landing page. In addition to restaurant windows and display signs, you can even use QR Codes to connect users with online ordering platforms on company cars. Overall, the more you promote the online ordering system, the easier it will be for users to find it and make purchases. This is not only useful during coronavirus, but also sets restaurants up for online revenue generation far into the future.

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