When I was a kid, I remember watching the girls at the checkout ring up groceries. She had to read and input every price into a mechanical cash register. In hindsight, I imagine repetitive stress disorder was an occupational hazard, and I’m sure that (experience notwithstanding) mistakes happened.
Then came bar codes. I can just imagine the sigh of relief felt by cashiers around the world; all they had to do was drag the label over a laser scanner and one beep later, it was rung in with all the information input into the transaction and the requisite inventory information transferred to the store’s database. But they’re sort of a one-dimensional device and can only hold so much information.
Now there’s a new thing called a QR code. Only they aren’t that new; they’ve been around since the 1990’s, when Japanese automakers started using them to track auto parts. It’s only recently that they have found a broader use as people realized they can store a lot more than auto parts information. QR stands for “Quick Response”, and these codes are basically a two dimensional bar code that can hold phone numbers, Web URL’s, email addresses, sales flyers, maps, and and just about any other information you’d care to include. They can be read by 3G enabled smartphones with free software, and are being found on realtors’ signs, billboards, and such.
For small business, there are some tremendous upsides. A QR code on a vehicle graphic, could hold a lot more information than you could fit on the back of your car. A smartphone can scan these things in an instant and capture all the info you need, rather than fiddling with pen and paper as you follow the car with that information on the back. Or if there’s extra information you want to include on a brochure or business card, you can put a QR target on there and it will provide access to the extra info neat and clean.
QR codes can also trackable, and therefore can valuable information on your promotion efforts. You can even stick your logo in the very middle. Pretty slick!
QR codes can be as small as 8mm square, although 10mm – 1 centimetre – is recommended as some Blackberry phones need a slightly larger item to scan.
I’d like to thank George Greenwood of Canadian Identity Resources for bringing this to my attention.
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