What is a QR code?

‘QR’ is an abbreviation for ‘Quick Response’. QR codes are becoming increasingly common with the growing uptake of smart phones. They originated from a manufacturing background about twenty years ago to track products through factory production lines.  A QR code is similar to a bar code but can hold more information; it appears like a square with oddly patterned squares within it, like a crossword puzzle gone wrong.


More recently, businesses have sought to use these codes for marketing purposes and you may have seen QR codes on television adverts, junk mail or post.  They enable a business to put across a message quickly and without using much space. The recipient uses a smart phone to read the

QR code which may, for example, include a link to a business website or further information about the product.


The desired aim is for the general public to use the QR code to visit a business website and buy a product. I suspect, though, that currently few of us will actually do this.  In the future it will become the norm especially when your television is fully connected to the internet and you will be

able to select the code displayed on an advert and be taken to the site to purchase the product.


Would QR codes benefit my business?

To have a QR code included on your business card is a very convenient way to direct potential customers to your website.

 qr code


Some other examples of use:


• Create a link to your website

• Coupons/voucher codes which are redeemable on purchase can be created
• Use as an advert on your website

• Shops can use QR codes to display additional information

• Restaurants could use QR codes on the menu to display nutritional information

• Museums or other visitor attractions could provide further information or language options

• Estate agents could add to signs or brochures for further data

• Event attendees’ badges could have QR codes for simple scanning at the event


How do I read the codes?

There are many barcode/QR scanner apps available for download, many of which are free. Once installed, click the app which opens the camera feature on your phone. Aim this at the QR code and the message hidden within the QR code will appear on your screen. If there is a link on the code you can click the link which will then take you to the website.


How do I get QR codes?

It is important to consider whether you want to present data/information or a website link?


When creating a link to a webpage you need to consider the length of the link. Be careful if using a link shorting service (e.g. Bit.ly) as these shortened urls only remain live for a certain period of time, albeit usually several years.


Bit.ly (https://bitly.com/)

This service is free and combines both a url shortener and QR code generator.


Kaywa’s QR Code Generator (http://qrcode.kaywa.com/)

With this tool you can create not only a link to your website but a chunk of text, phone numbers or even SMS text message. It is a good option for those wanting to add more data or use for additional product information.


Zxing Projects QR Code Generator (http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/)

This is the most advanced option. In addition to all of the above, it can offer calendar events, wi-fi access codes and geographic data. You can effectively create your business card on a QR code.


Article published in InCommerce quarterly magazine. 


Colin Youngson






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