Have you ever scanned a QR code? Do you know what a QR code is? A QR code, or Quick Response code is a type of barcode (like the ones on products that you buy in stores) that stores information that displays to you when it is scanned.
QR codes were invented by a Japanese company to track vehicles during manufacturing. It has since been adopted by marketers and advertisers.
The problem I see is adoption. Marketers are using them in increasing numbers. Some marketers are using them for idiotic applications.
But that’s not the issue, the issue is that consumers aren’t scanning QR codes. A good deal of that is because, I think, a lot of people don’t know what they are or how to scan them. Because of this I don’t think they will be catching on too soon.
To scan a QR code you need a to download a third party app to your smartphone. From there you can scan any QR code you come into contact with. After they are scanned they will lead to a website, video, or text.
Of course advertisers and marketers are jumping on this technology. They will do anything to drive traffic or sales. However, I think the potential of QR codes are really being missed here.
A simple, yet incredibly useful way that QR codes could be implemented is in retail, specifically in big box stores. If you’ve been to a few different Best Buys, Walmarts, Targets, Home Depots, etc., you know how hard it can be to find things at times. A lot of these stores have a few different layouts and floor plans, which makes finding things from store to store that much different.
Retail stores could solve this problem by posting QR codes on every entrance to their store that when scanned would give you a map of the store tailored to that specific floor plan. And even better, they could make the map searchable. When a big box store opens up, they have a very clear plan of where every product goes. This very seldom changes for large stores like these so these maps shouldn’t be a huge undertaking to implement.
This same set up could be used in museums. You could scan a sign for additional information about a piece, or it could link to the museum store where you could buy a print or a book about the artist.
This isn’t the only alternate use for QR codes. They can aid in home maintenance and repair.
There was a water softener in our house when we moved in and I can’t stand the thing. It beeps every day at 5:30 and I have no idea why. I can’t figure out the crappy user interface on it. The best I can do is stop it from beeping for seven days.
Help educate your customers by slapping a QR code on your product and link it some training videos, especially for home appliances. Show consumers how to use your products and perform routine maintenance on them. Things like cycling the tanks, changing filters, changing the temperature on a water heater, whatever. Consumers who are more informed about your products are better for you in the long run.
QR codes may never catch on and may be abandoned in the near future, and that would be a shame to miss out on that potential. The emergence of products like Google Glass and future products that we don’t even know about yet are putting more and more information into our hands. It may be that in a few years we don’t need a trigger for this information, but we do now, and QR codes are that trigger.