QR codes get a lot of flack. Marketers rarely ever use them in very interesting or useful ways. But Walmart’s latest effort with QR codes actually isn’t so bad.

Walmart Canada and Procter & Gamble are creating mobile stores inside 50 Toronto bus shelters. The idea is that people can use their time waiting for the bus more productively by getting some shopping done via QR codes. The way it works is that inside the bus shelters there are special posters featuring popular everyday products from P&G brands like Pantene, CoverGirl, Pampers, Gillette and Tide. All waiting bus riders have to do is download the QR-code app that links to Paypal, scan the QR codes for the products they want, confirm payment and then the goods are shipped for free.

There are tons of examples of bad uses of QR codes — like putting them on the back of buses and other moving objects, or Mc Donald’s use of QR codes as a way to provide nutritional information. However, there have been some interesting uses of QR codes too, like the tattoo shop that used a QR code as a tattoo artist screening tool.

This is a neat way that consumers can restock necessary household items while they are on the go — and free shipping is even more of an incentive to skip a trip to the store. This kind of e-commerce that is built into an urban landscape is an innovative way for brands and retailers to expand the e-commerce experience for consumers.

One issue with QR codes is smartphone features — not all phones have built-in QR-code readers. Some Samsung, Sony and Nokia models do have built-in scanners, but iPhones don’t, which means iPhone users have to download an app to be able to use QR codes. That’s not a huge deal, but it could be something that deters more people from trying out QR codes. According to eMarketer, 35 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have used QR codes on posters.

Image via CNW Group/Walmart Canada
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Digiday