QR codes got their start in Japan in the early 90`s as a way to track vehicle parts. In the last decade, Asian and European countries adapted them as marketing tools on movie posters and advertisements. In more recent years, they finally made their way overseas to us. However, despite positive reactions from big brands and marketers the consumer never quite caught on. In theory, QR codes are a great concept, bringing value added information directly to a consumer by their own choice.  Sounds greats but the negative components seem to have outweighed the positive. Luckily, Near Field Communication (NFC) is an emerging technology that more seamlessly bridges together the brand and the consumer. Let’s review the 3 main reasons QR failed but NFC will succeed.

Too many steps for the end result

The first and, in my opinion, foremost reason QR Codes don’t work well is there are just too many steps for the consumer. In some cases, there can be 7 or more steps to get to the final outcome. First you must download an application to your phone. Then you have to “scan” the code which is actually the camera taking a picture. The application then processes the scan and sends the consumer to a mobile page where the video, landing page, or offer is.  There are too many clicks involved in the process for the consumer experience to be successful. Compare this with NFC, which needs just one tap and no preliminary downloading of apps.

No standard QR app reader on any OS

There is no go-to default app or built in QR reader on any one platform. It is up to the consumer to select a reader from the app store and the options are abundant. Don’t get me wrong, options are great, but in this instance the selection process can be overwhelming and frankly, confusing. Some are free, others are not. Some focus better than others. And some have all kinds of extra tools and settings. Without doing research it`s difficult to know which reader is best.  The great thing about NFC is it is built into the phone and can be used at any time without downloading any apps.

Inundated by Ads

This reason goes hand in hand with the above about standardization. The amount of ads and pop-ups that come with these random QR reader apps can be frustrating and overwhelming. In many cases, the free app readers launch landing pages with mobile banner ads that crowd the page and disrupt the user experience. Paid versions of QR readers eliminate the pop-ups and advertising but they of course have a cost associated with them.

NFC is a like QR in that it bridges a physical item with digital information. However, NFC is surpassing QR codes because of its simplicity for the user experience and the standardization of being built into the mobile device.

 

Sources:

http://www.packagingeurope.com/Packaging-Europe-News/52888/NFC-an-Emerging-Technology.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/08/03/why-qr-codes-dont-work/

http://avilambert.net/2013/04/22/nfc-vs-qr-codes/