They come to us from Japan where they are very common. QR is short for Quick Response (they can be read quickly by a cell phone). They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it in to your cell phone. You may soon see QR Codes in a magazine advert, on a billboard, a web page or even on someone’s t-shirt. Once it is in your cell phone, it may give you details about that business (allowing users to search for nearby locations), or details about the person wearing the t-shirt, show you a URL which you can click to see a trailer for a movie, or it may give you a coupon which you can use in a local outlet….
The reason why they are more useful than a standard barcode is that they can store (and digitally present) much more data, including url links, geo coordinates, and text. The other key feature of QR Codes is that instead of requiring a chunky hand-held scanner to scan them, many modern cell phones can scan them. The full Wikipedia description is here.
How does the cell phone read the code?
The cell phone needs a QR code reader, like this one from Kaywa. It takes literally 1 minute for someone with an iPhone or Android phone to find and install the reader.
How do you generate a code?
You can easily generate a QR code using a site like Kaywa.com or you can use the Open Source code to generate codes for you if you have a smart developer on hand. Google also has a tool — see our separate article about that:Close-Up With Google’s New QR Code Generator.
How will Google see them?
If you add them to your website, the search engines will see that your pages have changed, and that you are updating pages. The search engine will see a new image and index it accordingly. At some point soon, the search engines will likely recognize QR codes and possibly index the content in them.
Will your customers use them?
Today, few may use them, but those that do will certainly appreciate your tech knowledge, and those that don’t will certainly be inquisitive, which may open the door for conversation and a potential sale. Those that do use QR codes will definitely have a high tech know-how and may be more receptive to your presence on the web, your Twitter presence, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube etc.
How could you use a QR code?
Your business, no matter how small or large, could use QR codes in a number of ways. You might auto generate one next to every product on your web site containing all the product details, the number to call and the URL link to the page so they can show their friends on their cell phone. You could add one to your business card containing your contact details so its easy for someone to add you to their contacts on their cell phone.
Add them to any print advertising, flyers, posters, invites, TV ads etc containing:
- Product details
- Contact details
- Offer details
- Event details
- Competition details
- A coupon
- Twitter, Facebook, MySpace IDs
- A link to your YouTube video
Trackback from your site.