If you ate out to help out last month, you probably interacted with a QR code more times than in the last five years put together. QR codes have popped up everywhere, from the check-in desk at the pub to the menu at Nando’s, allowing customers and staff to minimise contact with each other and reduce waiting times. As if overnight, COVID-19 has fast-tracked us to the frictionless world, where life is made easier through the automatic transfer of data.
Last year, the7stars Trends team predicted that frictionless technology would be a defining force in 2020. Back in 2019, wearable technology was becoming increasingly popular, as attested by Google’s £1.6bn purchase of Fitbit. This year, COVID-19 has accelerated the drive to track personal health data even further. Fitbit has just launched a new watch that has the added capability of measuring stress levels by tracking skin temperature and heart rate. Not to be outdone, Amazon has launched their own version of the fitness tracker called Halo. Halo measures a whole host of health indicators, including the energy and ‘positivity’ in users’ voices.
Retail is also getting a frictionless makeover. MasterCard is piloting its first check-out-free shopping technology that will work across a range of retailers, from shopping malls to airports. They are also piloting AI-powered, personalised drive-through menus. These smart menus suggest orders based on historical customer data, reducing the time taken for employees to take orders so food can be prepared faster.
Still, the unexpected winner of 2020 is the QR code. Designed with businesses in mind, the QR codes can be printed out to link customers to their pages. Businesses are already learning how to use QR codes better than before, by displaying them with a clear call-to-action. In the case of restaurants, it connects the customer with everything from their menus to track and trace forms. As consumers become increasingly familiar with using them, we expect that this time around they are finally here to stay.
The Seven Trends in 2020