Ecommerce tools have surged in popularity over the past nine months as businesses adjust to a changing economy and new consumer demands. Adding omnichannel retail and payment solutions makes your business more adaptable and resilient. In this series, we'll share the payment tools you need to get paid online.
QR Codes: Then and Now
QR codes are not a new piece of technology, in fact, the first QR code was used in 1994 by the automotive industry in Japan. While the codes have been used intermittently by businesses to link customers to websites or forms since then, they have experienced a rapid resurgence and wide-scale adaptation as a result of COVID-19.
As businesses look to reduce as many touch-points in their operations as possible, QR codes have been introduced in nearly all restaurant and food dining situations. They have been used to replace menus and in many cases ordering from a server. Today's smartphones no longer need a specific app to scan QR codes, the customer needs to simply open their camera and hover it over the code to trigger a prompt for the assigned link making them easy to use and accessible for almost everyone.
If you've gone out to eat or to pick up takeout in the past few months, you've probably seen these codes on business doors, signs, and tables. Businesses are finding creative ways to use QR codes at their retail location because of how easy they are to deploy and how effective they are in providing a contactless experience.
Why Use QR Codes?
With more customers looking for contactless payment options, QR codes are an easy way to remove touchpoints from your customer experience. Using QR codes replaces the need to deliver physical menus, pass payment cards back and forth, and share hardware with customers. Instead, customers can review your menu or products, place their order, and pay all from their own personal device and without enlisting as much help from your staff.
QR codes are also easy to deploy, they simply function as another way to direct customers to payment pages or online stores that already exist. By making it fast and easy for customers to pull up a URL, instead of having to type it in, you're improving their experience and empowering them at the same time.
The once humble QR code has proven itself a staple tool helping businesses in the food and beverage industry and for others who are looking to reduce touch-points in the payment process.
Top 5 Ways Businesses Can Use QR Codes
If you're thinking about implementing QR codes at your business but aren't quite sure how to do it, we've put together a list of the top five ways you can use QR codes to accept payments:
1. Offer Express Online Ordering to Customers
Restaurants, food trucks, and fast-service restaurants can all benefit from using QR codes. You can print unique codes for each table or seat in your establishment to keep track of orders as they are submitted. When customers sit down they simply scan the code on their phone to pull up your quick order menu and select their items. Customers can submit their orders and pay in just one step, removing the need to deliver menus to the table or have a server take their order.
While removing touchpoints and creating a more contactless order experience for customers is one of the main benefits of using QR codes, additional benefits include reducing the demand on your servers and improving order accuracy as customers select and submit their own orders.
Food trucks can display QR codes on their truck window or on a sandwich board sign. The codes make it easy for customers to pull up menus and submit an order. This removes the need to accept in-person payments and lets you focus on fulfilling and delivering orders.
New health rules and city shut-downs limited the ability to dine in for a lot of people, however, it did open up an increased appreciation for pickup takeout orders with businesses adopting contactless pickup to try and fill some of the gaps from lost dine-in service.
Even now that many locations have been able to resume in-person dining, pickup orders are still popular. Between decreased capacity limits and cautious customers, it makes sense in many cases to continue to offer takeout. If you are offering takeout, displaying a QR code on your front door or window makes it easy for customers to submit their orders online and wait outside until their order is ready. This can help you streamline the flow of traffic in and out of your business without limiting how many orders you can accept at one time.
2. Accept Donations
Charities and nonprofits can benefit from using QR codes to accept donations as part of their regular business operations. Many charities most likely already have donation buttons on their website that link to hosted payment pages, this makes printing a QR code for each of these pages an easy way to encourage supporters to make a donation. With fewer people carrying cash these days, having an easy way to submit a credit card payment increases the likelihood that they can raise the funds they need.
Less traditional uses for donation pages have become common due to the pandemic. These include fitness classes being offered by donation or outdoor drop-in events where social distancing is encouraged. These pop-up style events are all opportunities to display QR codes and let people know they can use them to submit a donation to support the business or organizer.
3. Encourage Tips or Gratuities
Many people working in the service and tourism industry rely on tips to supplement their income. With a decrease in businesses accepting cash, this could have a negative impact on their financial security. QR codes can provide another avenue to let customers know you're still accepting and grateful for tips while giving them a cash-free way to support your employees.
Adding a QR code to a tip jar or on your bar is an easy way to let customers know they can still provide tips without needing cash. You can link the QR code to a blank payment page where customers can choose the tip amount they want to include, or create a code for the denomination of your choice.
If you're using QR codes for online food ordering, one feature to look for is the ability to customize your tip options, so customers can include a gratuity with their order. Helcim provides different tip options to meet the needs of different businesses, including the ability to pre-select a recommended tip amount for customers.
4. Quickly Accept Payments for Services
As people adjust to the new normal, they want to resume activities they enjoyed before the pandemic. This includes outdoor activities and tourism-related items like visiting national parks, renting sporting equipment, renting kayaks or paddleboards, paying for parking when out in their cities, or resuming regular services at hair salons or estheticians. These are just a few of the examples where using QR codes can let individuals resume their normal activities while offering contactless payments.
If you run a business offering a service similar to the ones mentioned above, you can set up QR codes with specific amounts to make it easy for customers to pay at your business. If you're renting equipment or providing a service that requires a waiver, you can add the waiver to your checkout page for customers to review and accept when paying.
QR codes also remove the need to invest in hardware like a terminal or card reader, training your team on how to use it, and needing to keep track of it during the day.
5. Pre-Auth Customer Credit Cards
The ability to pre-authorize a credit card can be particularly useful for those in the hospitality business. Whether you are running a bed and breakfast or renting items to customers that require a credit card to be held on file, you can use QR codes to capture customer credit card information for future use or as a guarantee for a service you're providing. Simply create a QR code for a $0 purchase to capture and securely store customer credit card information in your card vault. When you need to charge the card at a later date, you will be able to access the information and complete the transaction.
These are just a few of the ways you can use QR codes for your business. Due to the flexible options and ease of deployment, businesses can customize their options in endless ways. As more businesses continue to explore new online payment methods and adapt to the new business environment caused by the pandemic, we are sure to see creative new ways of implementing QR codes to better serve customers while continuing to accept payments.