Broadway Theaters Are Using QR Codes to Let Patrons Buy Merchandise Right From Their Seats
QR codes are finally getting the moment they always deserved. First it was restaurants and businesses, then hip-hop artists, then soccer jerseys. Now, it's Broadway theaters, some of which have begun using them to allow patrons to order merchandise from the comfort of their seats. (Just please don’t use your phone during the show.)
A company called Creative Goods Merchandise developed a program that allows theatergoers to scan QR codes around the theater and place orders from their mobile devices. Once the show is over and the lights are back on, they can grab their merch on the way out.
Right now, the program is being used for showings of “Waitress,” and will soon expand to “Hamilton,” “Tina,” “Company,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Jagged Little Pill,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “MJ The Musical,” according to Broadway News.
This obviously could carry over to events like concert or sporting events, too, where merchandise lines are famously long and sometimes frustrating. If you can just scan a code on your way to the bar or bathroom, order a T-shirt, and not have to hold onto it for the duration of the event, that’s pretty much the dream.
Even without the looming specter of the pandemic, contactless purchasing is just easier. Everyone has a smartphone nowadays, so using a QR code to buy something is simple and fast.
The concept has expanded to print products like a “Cardboard Vending Machine” from SnackMagic. It’s a lot like the traditional snack boxes you’d find in an office with either a coin slot or box for honors-system payments.
With this, you don’t have to worry about carrying exact change or slipping into a life of petty theft. SnackMagic is even incorporating a charity component so companies that use it can choose to add a donation to various nonprofits like the World Wildlife Foundation or Feeding America.
If this idea of QR code shopping becomes more mainstream on Broadway, you can expect it to pop up elsewhere, too. It’s not going to replace the traditional merch table, if that’s something you enjoy about concerts, but for those who want convenience, this is good news.
It's also good news for anyone selling stickers, decals, signage or other printed products that display QR codes for this kind of application. If the concept catches on with other venues, it could be a source of new sales. And we could easily see this expanding further.
Imagine, say, a brewpub that has a merch counter inside. A QR code on the menu or on a table decal could allow patrons to order merchandise right from their smartphones without ever leaving the table. This setup would make the transaction seamless and easy, potentially increasing merchandise sales—a win for the customer, the business and the merchandise provider.
We'll see how it plays out on Broadway, but it sounds like the makings of a smash hit.