QR Codes – Next Generation Business Tool

QR codes are everywhere! You see them on marketing collaterals, social network profiles, business cards – everywhere. In a very short span of time they have become immensely popular marketing tool. So much so that it’s hard to believe now that QR codes had completely different role to play in the beginning.

QR codes, initially known as Quick Response codes, were invented by Toyota’s subsidiary enterprise named Denso-Wave in 1994. The company planned to use QR codes to track automotive parts. Soon QR codes found their way into commercial tracking, logistics, and inventory control. And the latest for QR codes is marketing and advertising. Today QR codes do more than just keep track of things. They also help add to the business operations.

QR codes are similar to barcodes. But they are an advanced version of barcodes. The basic difference between the two is that barcodes are linear one-dimensional codes holding 20 numeric digits whereas QR codes are two-dimensional matrix holding thousands of alphanumeric characters.

This ability to hold more information certainly makes QR codes more popular. But there is one more thing that has fueled this popularity – increasing usage of technically advanced smartphones.

Many people are using camera enabled smartphones today. These phones have QR code readers available. So it’s very easy for them to scan the codes through mobile cameras and capture the information.

So exactly what kind of information can a QR code hold? This is again where QR codes beat the barcodes. You can store a wide variety of information in a QR code. Below given are the popular QR code categories:

URL QR Codes: These codes hold the URL or the website address. Scanning these codes will bring you to a website.

meCard QR Codes: These codes store the personal contact details of a person. So when you scan them, your mobile adds the info to your address book. They hold minimal information about a person.

vCard QR Codes: While meCards hold personal information, vCards hold personal and professional information. You can say they are one step ahead of meCards. These codes have become a good appendage to modern day business cards.

Event QR Codes: These codes hold the information like date and venue of a scheduled event. Your phone can then enter this info in your calendar. These codes are mostly used on concert tickets, corporate event announcements, wedding invites, etc.

Email QR Codes: These QR codes hold email addresses as information. They are more popularly used on marketing collateral where immediate action is desired.

Phone QR Codes: These QR codes produce phone number when scanned. Again they are popularly used on marketing collaterals to generate additional business.

Plain Text QR Codes: These codes hold a message in plain text. They can be used where a confidential message has to be passed on.

SMS QR Codes: These codes reveal a pre-set SMS message when scanned. This SMS can be sent directly for faster service. This code is largely used in service sector where services can be pre-booked.

GPS QR Codes: These codes give directions to a location when scanned. They are popular amidst realtors who need to give out directions to available properties.

Social Media QR Codes: These codes help create a loyal following for any business. Scanning these codes can redirect you to a Facebook page or any other social media page of a business where you can “like” it or leave comments.

Now that we know about the different types of QR codes, let’s see how they are useful to a business.

Address Language Barrier
Businesses are going global and so are their communications. Companies are today focusing on localized marketing techniques to connect better with global audience. QR codes can support this initiative since they can hold information in different languages. Customers can scan information in their local language and follow a business. Thus, enterprises can use QR codes to penetrate international market segments.

Communicate with Remote Customers

QR codes enable businesses to communicate with the remotest customers. Once a QR code is caught in a smartphone it can be scanned anywhere. The customers can be in a faraway place and still communicate with the business. Businesses can put their QR codes on plaques or promotional handouts. The customers can scan them and get in touch with the business.

Online & Offline Marketing
Marketing plays such an important role in making a business successful and QR codes can most certainly enhance the marketing efforts. QR codes are something that can be used in both online and offline marketing. QR codes can redirect customers to websites, email addresses, and even social media pages. QR codes can also give pre-set messages and SMS to customers for better service. They can also give contact and email details. This way they play a role in online and offline marketing efforts.

Display Valuable Information
Enterprises can use QR codes to display valuation information to their market. QR codes can contain 7089 numeric characters, 4296 alphanumeric characters, 2953 binary characters, and 1817 kanji characters. With such massive capacity, QR codes can carry detailed information.

Exhibit Product Usage
One more interesting use of QR codes made by enterprise is to exhibit how to use a product. Some products have very complex usage procedures. In such cases, customers need usage details in the post purchase period. Enterprises are using QR codes here to exhibit this usage in the form of text, images, or videos to their customers.

Beat the Competition
Customers have the habit of forming impressions. And they connect faster to companies that are advanced in terms of technologies. QR codes can help establish themselves as tech savvy companies. They can attract the cream of the market or the elite through QR codes. They can also create brand awareness for themselves through smart use of QR codes. QR codes also travel faster and farther. This way they can beat the competition and stay ahead in the game.

So if you have still not used QR code for your business, its high time you start using one. Your customers will soon want you to.