On the Shanghai Metro I kept noticing large backlit billboards that looked like a photo of supermarket shelves. Even some of the columns supporting the station had the same pictures wrapped around them. Various products from beverages to noodles to Huggies were displayed in rows. It didn’t seem like much design had gone into them.
Then I noticed little squares underneath each product, the type that are showing up more frequently in magazine ads. The squares are composed of more black-and-white squares that fit inside them and are called QR code squares; a new technology that makes ordinary bar codes seem mundane. If your camera phone has the appropriate app you point it at the square, click and get product information sent to your phone. On the Metro I saw people scanning the billboards with their phone, clicking, and then moving on.
In America these QR code squares are becoming ever more ubiquitous, mostly in magazine ads. In China though they have once again raised the technology bar. When a person points their phone and clicks on a product they are placing an order for it. The items will then be delivered to them at home or work by the next day. Imagine being able to complete your grocery shopping while waiting for a train? This takes impulse shopping, and convenience, to a whole new level.