The future of QR codes

QR technology was invented in 1994, but it never quite caught on in the mainstream – until the pandemic, that is. Suddenly, it was a vital way for businesses to communicate with customers in a touch-free way. It has since proven itself to be far more than a fad; now, years after lockdown, interest in the tech has only continued to spike. With the number of U.S. smartphone users scanning a QR code expected to increase from 83.4 million in 2022 to 99.5 million in 2025, brands are going all-in on the strategy. Today, we’re taking a look at some of the new innovative ways brands are using QR codes (because simply sending customers straight to your website is so 2020!).


Armani Beauty is testing out an entirely new retail format with its recently-opened global flagship store “Armonia,” located in Shenzhen. Designed to inspire harmony – “armonia” in Italian – shoppers are prompted to scan a QR code as they enter the store. Next, they receive a recommendation via a custom mini WeChat program that suggests a tailored path (which they’re calling a “harmony profile”) to help visitors navigate the 3,230-square-foot store. The QR code also reveals a unique piece of digital art, which customers can use as a pattern on gift wrapping in-store.


Utilizing a very different kind of QR strategy, the VW ID.7 is Volkswagen’s latest EV model that comes decked out with a multi-colored digital camouflage pattern, which displays an all-out light show when electricity is passed through it. A key part of the visual experience is a QR code located on the hood and windows, which, according to the German car manufacturer, will “provide an interface between the physical and digital worlds.” Sounds cool, but what does that actually mean? Volkswagen has not yet elaborated, but the car won’t be available until 2026, so they have plenty of time to figure it out.


To turn the chore of grocery shopping into a hyper-efficient experience, Whole Foods has been slowly implementing QR technology via a new tool called the Dash Cart. After customers unlock a QR code upon entry, they simply scan items on their device as they add them to their cart. The Amazon-owned grocer has taken the guesswork out of everything; fresh produce, for instance, is handily weighed in an on-cart basket. When customers are ready to check out, they’re directed to a designated lane, where their payment is quickly processed via the credit card attached to their Whole Foods or Amazon account.