Trivia Question: What was the first PRODUCT to use a UPC barcode?
Answer: Double Mint Gum in 1974. Pretty cool - eh?
Today, a more robust technology is likely in your pocket. If your cell phone has a camera in it, there is a good chance you could use QR codes to access new and exciting information. Quick Response (QR) codes are new “two dimensional” bar codes that can be read by your cell phone camera and link directly to websites, videos, and shopping carts – just about anything online. These codes are blocky square images that you will start seeing more and more in your favorite magazine, or movie poster or store. Aim your camera phone at it, and once scanned – your phone can provide additional information about a particular product, promotion, or service.
For example: A potential customer is walking down the street, sees a restaurant bustling with happy customers – looks good, but there is a long line. They could simply scan the QR code posted in the window. In a few seconds via their cell phone they could view the menu and specials, or even make on line reservation for later that day. By doing this the restaurant has extended its visibility far beyond the few seconds it takes a customer to walk by.
Here is the real selling point of QR. Currently, they are free and easy to deploy. There are a host of free websites (I used KAYWA: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/) and produce your own set of QR codes linked to your website or contact information for example. Print them on signs or your business cards, t-shirts, or paint them on your car… they will all work. This means that potential customers won’t have to try to remember your web address or phone number. This makes it making your business name “stick” with customers a lot easier. These codes have been used in Japan since 1995, and are now cropping up everywhere here in the US. Because it has a history and culture behind it in Japan – we will likely see a jump in innovative ways that the American culture makes QR codes their own.
There are two downsides, but I feel optimistic that these issues could be resolved in the short term. The first issue is ‘mindshare’ – not many people know about this yet – or how to use it. I think once we see it demonstrated on mainstream TV, or movies we can look forward to its use growing exponentially. The second barrier is that there is not yet a unified experience. There are various ‘Apps’ on various platforms – and that market has not stabilized yet. If you have a smart phone (Android, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, or iPhone) search your catalog and download a QR app. I have heard, but not experienced, that Android phones have an app loaded by default.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Please add comments: HOW COULD YOUR BUSINESS USE QR?