In the name of omnichannel retailing, eBay and PayPal (which is owned by eBay) are resurrecting the QR code. While the emerging marketing technology might not have totally died in recent months, it went awfully silent for some time. We’re looking at this as its rebirth and, more important, its big chance to be useful.
To streamline mobile payments used for in-store purchases, PayPal-using merchants can now send shoppers QR codes (or four-digit codes) to pay through their phones, speeding up the checkout process and helping visitors avoid the cashwrap. The codes are valid for a limited window of time — say, an hour — and determined by the merchant. The process is already in action in Britain and Australia, and debuts in the U.S. in February.
While the re-advent of the QR code is one mobile shopping notable, a service still being tested by PayPal is more revolutionary. “PayPal Beacon” would have a customer’s PayPal app activate upon entering a store, automatically checking them in and allowing them to dictate what they want to buy via their smartphone, subsequently paying for it through PayPal. No human interaction needed. We’re not sure whether the shopper would ultimately be given an actual physical package of their goods at the end of this transaction, or if the purchase would be delivered later (or maybe one chooses between the two), but either way, the program is a solid integration of mobile and real world experience, should it go into effect.