Limitations To QR Code Adoption
With any technological advancement, there are certain drawbacks that come with providing the innovation as a marketer and receiving the innovation as a consumer.
After a depth research on QR codes, three foreseeable drawbacks that will potentially affect QR code adoption and usage in the future have been identified. First is the issue that not all consumers have the capability to scan a QR code, and of those that do, may not necessarily have the knowledge of how to scan a QR code. What many consumers have trouble understanding is that a user cannot simply take a picture of a QR code on their smartphone; they actually need the right application installed on their phone to scan and provide content.
The confusion or uncertainty of how QR codes work, and how they are to be scanned is a hurdle that both consumers and marketers must combat together. Educating the consumer is the answer to this limitation. “You will always have early adopters, however, in order to get more consumers to take advantage of this technology, an organization must help educate and specifically state what can be gained from scanning the QR code,” explains Michael Carmine, the Director of Employee Relations and New Media Technology at Southern Utah University. “The majority of QR Codes today do not have a call to action. Consumers are left wondering why they should scan the QR code, and what the reward is for them if they choose to scan the QR code.” To reduce this kind of uncertainty, marketers must use specific call-to-action statements that give instruction on how to scan the QR code in front of them, give insight as to what kind of information they will receive after scanning the QR code, and possibly even offer the opportunity to download a barcode scanning app, if the consumer does not have one currently downloaded on their smartphone.
The second limitation to QR code adoption is the lack of uniformity among barcode scanning applications available on each smartphone depending on phone brand and service provider. Some smartphones come with a standard bundle of apps that include a barcode scanning app, while others leave it up to the consumer to download their own apps at their own convenience — a hindrance that can only be overcome if the consumer chooses to download the barcode scanning app themselves. Downloading an app usually means that the consumer would find value in the app need the app to feel useful, therefore the content in QR codes must be thought of as “valuable or useful” in the consumers mind before they will go through the trouble of downloading another app onto their smartphone.
Lastly, is likely the largest limitation holding back the QR code today — the issue of QR codes bringing consumers to sites or other online content that either contains little to no useful information or bringing them to a website that is not adapted for mobile browsing. If the smartphone user finds that they are receiving either inadequate content or experiencing difficult page navigation on their first few scans, they will most likely remember their bad experience the first time and be hesitant to keep scanning QR codes in the future, even for a product, event, or activity they may find value in. Consumer lack of interest in the message or services QR codes provide is a limitation that all marketers must consider upon fighting low QR code usage rates. It is the marketer’s job to start placing more emphasis on the content and message the QR code is directing the customer to, which includes the location of the landing page. Some marketers are so excited to have found a new gimmick that they forget the purpose of a QR code in the first place. Organizations need to optimize their websites and landing pages for mobile browsing if they want consumers to invest the time and effort of scanning the QR code. If the content from a QR code is not helpful or mobile friendly and contains misleading information, a smartphone user will soon lose motivation to scan QR codes all together.
Despite the current limitations QR codes are facing, marketers are staying loyal to QR codes and continuing to find new ways to utilize them through effective marketing campaigns (Patel, 2012). With the proper education and repeated exposure of the codes in daily mediums of print advertising, experts in the area continue to believe that QR codes are not leaving print media in the near future, and that the process of scanning the codes will soon become as standard or routine as performing a Google search or sending a text message.
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