Would QR codes help your business?

You have probably seen them – barcodes that look like strangely deformed checkerboards. But you may not be sure of the business purpose or opportunity.

These two-dimensional barcodes store a lot of information that can be read automatically by smartphones. A Quick Response code – usually called a QR code – is a 2-D barcode that is readable by dedicated QR readers, smartphones and, to a lesser extent, computers with webcams.

ApexCPAs.comThe code contains encoded information that can display text, look up a document on a website, send an email or add a vCard of contact information to the user’s smartphone. QR codes were originally created and used by Toyota to track parts used in vehicle manufacturing in 1994.

A number of international standards beginning in the late 1990s support this format and define its content, use and compatibility. The use of QR codes has expanded for both commercial tracking and consumer convenience, allowing mobile phones to read information with their built-in cameras and look up information contained in the code.

Businesses and individual users can create QR codes by visiting free or paid sites that generate the codes. QR codes can then be used on business cards, literature or posters as a source of additional information. You can even create barcodes that you print and put on the front door of your office.

You can probably think of more than one use for a QR code in your business, and it is wise to begin using QR codes as soon as you can. QR codes are not a fad, although the technology could be replaced by some more advanced technology in coming years.

Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text and contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a Web page in the telephone’s browser. This act of linking from physical world objects is called hardlinking or object hyperlinking.

There are more than 50 paid and free QR code apps. Examples of QR code applications include:

  • Google Goggles
  • Third-party barcode scanners like ZXing or Kaywa
  • Bing search app in the Mango update
  • Barcode Scanner
  • ScanLife
  • QR Name Card
  • and many more.

How could a barcode help your business? One of the first issues in adopting a new technology is to determine an online solution to an existing business need.

The next step is to create a solution that is easy enough for the average person to use. At this point, only the geeks are using the technology – and then, many times, only because they think the technology is cool. So the trick is to make the technology actually cool and useful in the minds of real people who take kids to school and have full-time jobs.

QR codes solve a significant business need – in this case, getting data keyed into a device such as a smartphone and looking up needed information, such as specification sheets or product information needed for sales. Salespeople are now commonly using QR codes on their business cards, websites, product literature, shipping labels or the product itself to contain much more information than a standard barcode can.

For example, if you wanted a complete bill of lading or certification of a food product in a shipment, a QR code could link back to your document management system to give access to that single document.

What are the steps to using QR codes?

  • Consider the content and locations you’d like to publish.
  • Select a tool that can create the codes.
  • Build the supporting information for the QR code request.
  • Include the generated code in your business literature or information.
  • Use a tracking mechanism to understand which QR codes are the most effective.
  • Design a follow-up process for opportunities that are generated.

If you have not been using QR codes, contact Strategem to start taking advantage of this technology. This may be one of the least expensive marketing and tracking tools you have ever found.

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