The Return of the QR Code

Let’s cast our minds back to last summer. We thought we were coming to the end of any further lockdowns; we were allowed out, we were allowed to socialise a little more – even encouraged – remember the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme?

Well looking back now, this may not have been the best idea for helping to keep the virus at bay, but one thing it did do was bring back that funny little black and white pattern.

Whether you were entering a supermarket or a restaurant, the local doctor’s surgery or a coffee shop, you had to scan the code with your smartphone in order to leave a trace on the NHS Track and Trace app so you could be contacted had you been in an area with someone who had tested positive for Covid.

Not only for this, but if you were visiting a restaurant, instead of a paper menu, you simply scanned a QR Code on the table to view your options and place an order for delivery direct to your table – all to help minimise contact between us humans!

Covid has certainly brought back the Quick Response Code.

This year, the QR Code turns 27 years old! states that the birth of this Code was in 1994, when Denso Wave announced the release of its QR Code. It was utilised initially in the auto industry, contributing to the efficiency of their workforce from production to shipping to the issuing of transaction slips.

It was the rise of the smartphone, which accelerated the growth and use of QR Codes, firstly in Japan in 2002. By simply scanning the Code using their mobile phone’s camera, users were taken straight to websites where they could access more information. When space on point of sale can sometimes be limited, this was a great way to send users to more product information and more opportunities to showcase and sell the product.

Arguably, the use of this matrix barcode began to decline as quickly as it arrived; but over the last year we have seen a resurgence as mentioned in restaurants and the NHS Track & Trace app.

It is also a great way of helping the environment and could be something that many companies decide to use instead of paper going forwards. Instead of adding in paper instructions to flat pack for example, why not have a QR Code on the box and simply scan for building info.

With 84% of the UK population owning a smartphone in 2020 ( and social distancing in play for the foreseeable, the QR Code has made a strong return and may just become a fundamental marketing tool.

Written by Claire Bryant