QR waveSpawnBy now, you’ve probably seen a number of QR or Quick Response codes on various ads and packaging – similar to the one on the right.  You may have wondered what it does or why it’s there.

QR codes were originally invented in Japan by Denso for industrial bar codes on packaging for warehousing and production purposes.  Since it is open source technology, it has gained wide spread, international adoption.  QR codes can embed much more information than traditional (linear) barcodes.  In fact, they are increasingly being used in retail to quickly send a user from a print ad or sign to a specific URL which has detailed product information.

Used strategically, QR codes can help support a number of marketing objectives.  Think in terms of linking customers from an invoice or receipt directly to a customer service survey.  We’ve all received receipts that say go to some random URL and enter a number to see if you’ve won something.  Now that connection – between print and web – can be one step closer.

Another example – say you are in an electronic store looking at a flat screen TV.  If there’s a QR code to scan, you may be able to immediately access customer reviews and ratings to help your purchasing decision.

From a marketing perspective you should always aim to track usage and determine how to best utilize QR codes for your business.  With the immeasurable possibilities, businesses large and small can leverage the QR technology in creative ways.

There are a number of free QR generators available online.  You can simply enter a URL, video, vCard, text, or any other information to embed.  Some allow you to personalize with colors, etc.

Depending on what smart phone you use, there are several QR Readers on the market.  Here’s a free QR Reader for the iPhone.  Some are free, but include ads, some have more features than others.