The above is an example of a QR code. This one will redirect you back to the home page of this site. Probably not one of the more innovative uses, but it does work well on my business card. Sadly, most of the time a QR code is used because it is a shiny new thing. You will see it on posters because the agency thought it was a good idea. If the poster is on the side of the road, the back of a lorry or at the side of the escalator then this is a pointless and dangerous application. The poster should be doing the job of selling and not focusing the viewer on gizmos at its edges.
If you are tempted to use a QR code it can be done for further benefit for yourself but most importantly, your customer. Here are a few examples:
1 Where am I?
Nearly all mobile devices have a built in GPS. So “where am I” is not a great question. This comes into play when you start to look at all the things a GPS won’t tell you. Large multi storey car park? Now knowing where you parked is a headache. QR code on the sign in front of your car will log you into that bay. No longer do you need to worry about finding your car. This could also be a richer application if you integrate paying for parking charges into the same tool.
2 Telling a story
Wouldn’t it be great when you picked up a product on a shelf and you got to find out something more about it? Now this might not be for everything, but for some goods, it could be a real eye opener. How about a home-made sauce in the chiller section? You beep on the QR code and it takes you to either, your choice, a video of the chef making the sauce, a background on the company or some recipes video ideas? Far better than a link to a generic website trying to sell you more sauces.
3 Checking in
If you are a Foursquare or Facebook places addict, this is for you. A QR code on the bar, the menu or anything else nearby with “Check In” written above it. Saves the customer some time, leaves no ambiguity as to where you are and also means you can concentrate on enriching the content on the platform your guests use.
4 Link to loyalty
Click on the QR code at arrival, it takes you to your account. Any offers or specials that day? Similar to checking in above but with the benefits of adding visit data to the check in. Plus you also have the option to add in twitter, facebook or location service links on the same access page. While it’s good to have an ability to check in and gain loyalty points many folks have established preferences on how they share their location, so make it easier for them.
5 Ad-hoc tours
Are you interested in history, art, shopping, food or any other pursuit? If you visit a new area and see a suggestion for somewhere to visit it might perk your curiosity. How about if you could also make a day of it? A historic tour of a town at your pace? Find one of the points on a “tour” and capture the QR code. This runs to a site that tells you all about the place you are at and then offers you a few suggestions for your next stop. Select one and it integrates into the GPS.
Ideally your QR code should add to the experience not just make it accessible on a mobile browser. A visitor should feel they have benefited for scanning the code and whatever pops up as a result. For a business owner the landing page they have arrived at is telling you that people are at a location using that code.