Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Working Smarter: QR Codes - Are You Using Them Yet?

Are you using Quick Response Codes in your business yet? If not, you've probably seen a few of them here and there and have wondered what in the world they are. Wonder no more.

QR Codes are becoming increasingly popular as business entrepreneurs discover their potential. A Quick Reference Code is simply a two dimensional bar code that looks like the image shown at left. They contain almost any information you wish to encode in them, but typically include firms' names, addresses and contact details.

They are used with smart phones. Users with smart phones use a QR Code scanner application on their telephone and photograph the QR Code which then loads the details encoded into their phones. Typically, a specific Internet site appears.

The concept is based on the assumption that many, if not most people, are using smart phones to find locations, addresses, sales deals and almost everything else. Just a few days ago I saw a catalogue for clothing and beside each item was a QR code indicating that readers could purchase online. So, a savvy user would spot an item of interest, photograph the QR Code and finish up on the sales page of the seller where he or she could purchase immediately online.

How can you use this in your business? Here are some suggestions:
  1. Place a QR Code decal on the front window of your shop. People passing by who want to record the address and location, but who haven't got time to write, can quickly take a snapshot and record it for later use
  2. Your cars, trucks, delivery vehicles etc could have QR Codes on them making it easier for people wanting to contact you to do so  
  3. Put QR Codes on your business documents including business cards. While people may not scan the codes on your invoices or business cards, at least they will know that your business uses them
  4. When you give out freebies like T shirts, put a code on the shirts. Someone who wants to visit your store can scan the code
  5. QR Codes on catalogues, like the one mentioned previously, will help people go straight to the download or purchasing area of your site
The concept of QR Codes is a little like that of RSS feeds - Real Simple Syndication. It was lingering around for a long time before many people realised what it was and how they could use it. It really wasn't well publicised, at least not in Australia. I guess if you asked 50 people in the street what an RSS feed was, few would be able to explain. That means a very useful system is under used.

If you decide to adopt QR Codes, make the effort to tell your customers what they do and how to use them for their convenience by giving short instructions eg, "By photographing this square with your enabled smart phone, you can go straight to our site."

Lastly, you need to have a software program that will generate QR Codes. There are dozens of free ones on the web. Do a search for something like "create QR codes" and you'll find relevant sites or look at qurify.

If you decide to take up QR Codes in your business, please write a comment and let us know how you are using them.


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