QR codes are starting to pop up everywhere, and New Zealand is beginning to catch onto this trend. But to make QR codes work successfully for your business, there are a few things you should know.
QR (quick-response) codes were invented in Japan in 1994, where they are actively and widely used. QR codes can be read by smartphones with a QR scanner (Androids have these built in, while iPhone users will need to download an app such as QR Scanner or TapReader).
They are similar to barcodes but can store and share much more information, which gives them a range of potential uses and capabilities for businesses. They can be placed almost anywhere – a magazine ad, a poster – and link the user to expanded content or information.
Designer QR codes, which integrate a brand logo or image within the QR code, make a visually attractive option that provides a point of difference and identification for competitive brands.
QR codes can be used to link to digital content on the web (such as a coupon or special offer for a product), connect the user to a website, activate phone functions such as SMS and email, and more.
“Once you start thinking about QR and its possibilities, there is a use for every single business for QR tech,” says Ollie Langridge, co-founder of designer QR code company SET QR (see previous Idealog profile here).
He says exporters in particular can get a huge advantage from using QR codes – not only is QR technology and smartphone saturation more advanced overseas, using a QR code also lets you track individual items anywhere in the supply chain, worldwide.
However, to maximise customer experience and really make QR codes work, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Understand how QR codes work
“We see a lot of companies using QR codes just for the sake of using it, because they can, because they think it’s new,” says Langridge.
But setting up a QR code that links to useless information, or content that’s not going to make it worthwhile for the user, is the “single biggest damaging factor for the technology”, according to Langridge.
Once a customer’s been burned once, they’re not likely to make the effort to pull out their phone and scan the code again. Make sure your QR codes link to relevant content – this could be a video, directions to your company, or recommendations for other complementary products.
Link to a mobile optimised website
If you’re going to link your QR code to a website, make sure it’s a mobile-friendly version. If a customer’s made the effort to scan the code, don’t reward them by linking them to something they’re going to have to scroll around endlessly in to find information.
A mobile optimised site lets users access information fast, at their fingertips.
Put it this way – “every time you link a QR code to a standard website, a kitten dies,” says Langridge.
Think carefully about placement
QR codes need to be flat and unobstructed for the technology to work. For this reason, it’s not advised to print them on the front of a t-shirt, or place them on machinery where handles, levers, or other objects might get in the way – and definitely don’t cut into the codes to make room for these obstructions.
Don’t put them too high up, or on billboards in busy areas, for traffic safety reasons. And don’t put them in places that have no mobile reception or zero illumination. Think carefully about where you’re placing your QR codes, to ensure maximum usage.