Seems like 2D Barcodes are picking up steam – at least from the perspective of the media. Though these codes have been around for some time – originally used for labelling electronic components, they are finally making their way a little deeper into the mainstream. 2D has been discussed on this blog many times over the past 2 years.
Smartphones have made this possible with better faster hardware and software that allows users to scan codes very quickly – making the use of these codes far more practical than in the past. The value of 2D codes are their ability to provide a very simple bridge between mobile and touchpoints (point of sale, atm, payment terminals). While it’s possible to interface via NFC, bluetooth or wifi, all of the other options require setup, passwords or some other hardware. With 2D barcodes – there’s an app for that, and it’s basically point and shoot.
Some interesting uses of 2D barcodes in retail:
Ticketing – Expect to see more of this as consumers become more comfortable. It already works for airlines, and given the demographic visiting movie theatres, who are more comfortable with mobile technology will move to this ticketing option in the future with movie theatres (Full Disclosure – NCR is my employer and owns Mobiqa) and concert venues leading the way.
Payment – Starbucks has been connecting a client’s stored value card to a 2D barcode that can be read at the POS for some time. That’s old hat, though still uncommon. A newer twist on this is a company called Cimbal, who are attempting to enable the mobile wallet via 2D barcodes. This system shows a 2D barcode on the screen of the pinpad to be scanned by a mobile phone and then payments are directed. This is a very interesting angle to avoiding a new device at the point of sale.
Informational – Scanning 2d barcodes from store shelves or posters is increasingly simple with all of these applications and can take the load off store staff for information. Customers can scan a code from a poster or from a shelf edge to watch a video or a sales pitch of any media that vendors may want to provide to retailers.
Again, 2D barcodes are not new, nor is scanning a barcode to pull information. It is the new comfort level with mobile technology that is pulling this technology to the fore.