What are QR codes and how can they help your customers and your  business? 

I recently became interested in how QR codes (Quick Response codes) could benefit my customers as well as my own business. Due to the ever growing expectations of quick and immediate gratification and response, consumers are looking for immediate access to what’s relevant and QR codes allow that.

What is a QR code?

The  QR code is similar to the barcodes that retailers use to track inventory and price products at the point of sale.  The difference between the QR code and the barcode is that the QR code can hold allot more data.  QR codes are two-dimensional, matrix barcodes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information. Their ability to hold more information and their ease of use makes them practical for businesses particularly small businesses.

With an iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link your customers to your website, activate email or track advertising.  You could look at the QR code as an interactive call to action.  Not only is the QR code excellent to try but you don’t have to be a technical person or hire anyone to do it.  It’s a simple process of entering the appropriate data into a QR code generator taking just a few minutes.

How does my customer access my QR code?

Of course, it is important to know if your target audience is using QR codes.  However, it is such an easy and free process to try that it makes sense to experiment and track the results.  When using a QR code, you could also include copy with the code that gives some direction such as  “Use your  smartphone to scan this image” or “Scan this” or “Use a QR reader app with your phone to scan this for quick access to details on this promotion.”

As I indicated above,  the user of the phone needs to have an app that allows them to read the QR code.  These are simple and free to access. The QR code reader app that I use with my iPhone is ScanLife but check out the best app that works with your phone.  Mine was free so look for those first and check the ratings that will help you make the right decision which to use.

How to create your QR code?

Simply typing in “QR code generator” in your specific search engine will bring up a list of applicable sites that offer this service.  I selected “QRStuff.com”  because I wanted the flexibility to print on my own sticky labels.  I am experimenting too and I don’t want to pay for the code printed anywhere yet.  QRStuff has a list of 19 different data types that you can select from.  I selected my Website URL.  There is an option to change the foreground color but I just selected black and white to keep it simple.  Then I selected my output type which was printing on my specific labels.  It was formatted for me and printed perfectly.

The process is easy and the ability of QR codes to connect people with each other and to multimedia digital content is very useful for businesses and consumers alike.  As long as your customers or potential customers know how to access the code this is a very useful tool.

Where to use a QR code?

As I mentioned I am experimenting so I am going to try the code in various places.  Here are some ideas you might consider placing your QR codes.

  • On your business card.  (This is where I plan to start and with the ability to print a QR code on a sticky label  I won’t have to reprint my cards without trying this idea first.)
  • Your brochures and other marketing materials. (I would not reprint marketing materials, if you don’t have too, just try the sticky label again and see if it works for you.)
  • Sides of your vehicles or transportation associated with your company
  • Product packaging
  • Convention and event nametags
  • Ticket stubs
  • Sale Receipts
  • A sign hung in your window at your store location

Let me know how you are using the QR codes and if their use is impacting your bottom line.