Based on my article for a16z which can be seen here.
Here in the US we’ve been slow to adopt QR codes outside of messaging apps. But they’re full of potential; camera-based solutions like QR codes can give instant fixes to clunky user experiences, while also enabling us to log in to physical locations.
Logging in to physical spaces allows brands to learn user identity/preferences, while customers gain a more tailored and social experience, as well as perks like automatic loyalty programs built into every transaction.
Vending machines for fresh-cut flowers are certainly possible in the US with credit card payments, but by linking to WeChat via QR codes, the retailer gets access to customer information and can easily build loyalty programs and retarget buyers.
I detail these and other examples, from sample vending machines to capsule gyms. Final notes: 1) Tech evolves fast in China — most of these products were nonexistent when I lived there just 3 years ago. 2) These examples are by no means ‘magical’ in China; they are the norm.