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Get Paid Online | The Ultimate Guide to QR Code Payments

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Miranda Russell | January 14, 2021

“QR codes are a great way to make your checkout experience as smooth as possible. Find out how to use them for your business. (Updated 2022.)”
10 min read
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    _If you're a small business owner exploring ways to make your life easier, accepting QR codes is one of the most convenient technological tools available to you. These tiny codes offer huge advantages over traditional card payments — from speed and convenience to cost savings. But what exactly are these mysterious black and white boxes, how does a QR code work, which platforms allow you to accept them, and why should your small business invest in QR payments? Read on for answers to all these questions (and more)!

    QR Code payments: Then and Now

    What are QR codes? A QR code is a square design made up of black and white dots that essentially "tell" your smartphone camera information like a URL. Each constellation of black and white squares constitutes a unique QR code that is linked to a specific URL. Your mobile device simply scans the QR codes using your camera and a link will pop up at the top of your screen which you can tap to pull up in your internet browser.

    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 looked to reduce as many touch-points in their operations as possible.

    QR codes can now be found 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 QR 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, you've probably seen this payment method 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 payment experience.

    Today, it's second nature for customers to use their mobile device to easily scan a QR code and pay through a payment app or their mobile wallet to use Apple Pay, Google Pay and other mobile payments.

    Why use QR Codes to accept payments?

    Not only is it easy, with more customers looking for contactless payment options, but QR codes payments are an easy way to remove touch points and optimize tasks. For example, in a restaurant industry, using a QR code 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 mobile device and without enlisting as much help from your staff.

    QR code payments work easily to direct customers to payment pages, a QR code app, or an online checkout that already exists. By making it fast and easy for customers to scan the QR code to pull up a URL, instead of having to type it in, you're improving their payment processing 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.

    Find yourself typing "how to accept payment QR code?" Learning how to implement QR codes is easy- here's an article on how to do it in just 5 steps or you can watch our video below.

    Top 5 Ways Businesses Can Use QR Codes

    If you're thinking about ways to integrate QR code payments 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 a QR code payment system to accept payments:

    1. Offer Express Online Ordering to Customers with a QR code

    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 touch points and creating a more contactless order experience for customers is one of the main benefits of using a QR code, 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 through a custom QR code

    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 QR code Payments for Services

    If you run a business, 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.

    Whether restaurants, retail shops or even service providers, QR codes provide an easy and secure way to pay. You can imagine for restaurants, you can easily implement QR codes for customers to check-in or order food for takeaway.

    Other businesses like pop-up booths, market, and retail shops can use this technology to quickly take payments from customers without having to use a card reader or POS system.

    Lastly, service providers such as plumbers or mechanics may use QR codes on invoices they issue at the end of each job – allowing clients to conveniently pay via their smartphones. If paired with synchronized with intuitive payment tools, not only do these codes eliminate tedious paperwork and extra equipment, but also enable businesses to avoid online fraud and easily track customer transactions.

    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. It is easy to accept QR payments, 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.

    Final Thoughts

    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.

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    FAQs

    Are QR codes a safe payment method?

    Yes, QR codes are a safe method for accepting payments. When customers use their device to scan the QR code, their payment information is encrypted and tokenized, making it impossible for hackers to access sensitive financial data. As a consumer, you should be wary of scanning random QR codes and take precautions to protect yourself from fraud but most QR codes in restaurant settings are safe to follow and process payments through.

    What are some ways Small businesses can use QR code payments?

    QR codes remain a unique way for small businesses to reach their customers in an engaging and interactive manner. Though traditionally viewed for the food and service industry such as QR codes that allow customers to access their menu without downloading an app, there are creative ways to implement QR codes for various businesses.

    For example, give customers the ability to quickly get more information on stock, sizes, and colours for specific items. Businesses could also use QR codes for multimedia purposes by setting up video tours of the store, providing unique coupons and discounts, or even hosting virtual events such as Q&A interviews with the owners or staff. With a little creative thinking, small businesses can leverage the power of simple static to enhance customer engagement, increase customer loyalty, and drive sales.

    What are the disadvantages of asking customers to scan QR codes?

    While there are many benefits to using QR codes, there are also some potential drawbacks. By being aware of these you can mitigate some of these issues and use QR codes as a supplementary tool rather than one you depend on.

    Some disadvantages include:

    Technological barrier- they require your customer to understand how to use QR codes, have a mobile device (that is charged) and have their mobile wallet set up to complete payment.

    Scanning issues- This could be due to technical difficulties, a user error, or even lighting and access issues, all leading to frustration. Scanning QR codes are convenient — when they work. Make sure your QR codes are well lit and protected from being worn or stained, and not squeezed in a hard to reach spot for your customer to scan them. Ease frustration by providing paper menus upon request and stick around for any customer assistance should they need it.

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