Quick Response QR Codes: Back from the Dead?

Oct 7, 2020


by Rob Hanks

Quick Response (QR) codes got their humble start in the mid 1990s to track inventory in a warehouse or manufacturing environment. It was promoted from there that QR codes could be used to link printed materials to websites and apps, landing pages, and to enable touchless ordering experiences.

But QR codes never really caught on in the marketing world. The process was clunky and you had to download a barcode scanning app on your phone to make the whole thing work – who wants to go through that amount of effort when you can just type in the URL?

However, the game has changed. First, most smartphones now have a built in QR code reader as part of the phone’s camera. Just point your phone camera at a code and the information you are looking for pops up to click on. You no longer need to download an app in order to read a QR code, saving time and simplifying the process.

Add on to that the Coronavirus pandemic this year driving the need for more “touchless” processes. The need to reduce contact surfaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic has helped bring QR codes back into use in ways that were not prevalent prior to 2020.

QR codes are now the fastest way to get recipients to your website directly from a printed piece. Rather than requiring recipients to manually type in a URL, they can simply scan the code with their smartphone, which will automatically take them to a landing page in their phone’s browser. The landing page can be tied directly to a campaign and tracked using web analytics tools.

One way restaurants are using QR codes is for delivering their menus. A sticker at the register counter or a table tent with a QR code can pull up a digital menu to peruse. With shortages of ingredients and unpredictable food costs, a digital menu can be easily changed on-the-fly as well, so it is always up to date.

Almost any business can use QR codes to provide information on products or services. Be creative with the material used in printing. Try using a rigid plastic or vinyl materials for point-of-purchase marketing materials in stores. Foam core is another great product for lightweight posters and temporary indoor signage. Need a QR code for outdoor signage? Try using aluminum or corrugated plastic material, as they will stand up to the elements.

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