The QR-Code is a system to store information in a matrix of points, not too different to how barcodes present in all products work, but applied to two dimensions instead of one.

Initially was used to track the different pieces in car manufacturing but it has slowly gained different uses, in Japan especially where this is the code most used and where most of mobile/cell phones already have an app that can read them. We will see later why this is useful.

These codes can store up to 7089 numbers, 4296 alphanumeric characters or 2953 bytes and it also has a system that corrects mistakes and avoids image distortion. They can be recognized by the three squares that they contain in the corners and that permit the reading of the QR-Code.

A very old practice

Even though the QR-Codes are a practice somewhat new, its roots go as back as 1890. Drilled cards were the first “barcodes” registered in history (follow this link to access to the infographic). The idea of the creation of the current barcode didn’t come much later (1948)

The QR Codes as we know them today were first used in Japan in 1999. The first commercial use came from airlines in 2005. Thanks to this system, we can check-in using the code readers and avoid the long queues. In 2008 mobile/cell phones started to incorporate a feature that could read them and we are starting to see really creative uses for these codes.

Most creative uses

1. Tesco started a campaign that was never seen before by using QR Codes in South Korea. It’s been proved that the codes work better in places situated in between point A and B of a person’s trip (From home to the stores or from a train stop)

This franchise used underground stops; they installed virtual stores in certain stops so users could shop while they waited for their trains.

2. An original and attractive QR code. These codes are usually not nice to look at. But that depends on who creates them. Here are a few ideas to develop a QR Code with some panache that could attract some attention:

QR Code on off site ads
QR-Code on off site ads (source: 1stwebdesigner)
QR Code as a product information
QR-Code as a product information (source: 1stwebdesigner)
QR Code on baking products
QR-Code on baking products (Source: 1stwebdesigner)
QR Code on Business Cards
QR-Code on Business Cards (Source: 1stwebdesigner)
QR Code on stamps
QR-Code on stamps (Source: 1stwebdesigner)
QR Code on t-shirts
QR-Code on t-shirts (Source: 1stwebdesigner)
QR Codes on products to download from your website
QR Codes on products to download (Source: 1stwebdesigner)

Other tips to take into account

  • Find out what do your clients want. What would they want to get out of a QR Code and why would they use it.
  • Give them that extra value. For instance transmit a message through your code of something that could interest your clients.
  • Include information specific about your product in the code. Try to avoid stale information, make it dynamic.
  • If your company has a mobile/cell app, use it to make your codes more practical. Smartphones and tablets are the devices where the codes work better.
  • Personalize them. If your idea is for example to include the codes in all your purchases, the packaging, the bags, etc. include the client names.
  • Include a social factor. Another idea could be to include a link to a contest that you could have in your social networks.
  • Does your company offer trips and accommodation? Do your clients travel a lot? You could give them the possibility to “check-in” through your QR codes. This way your clients can use them in case they need help.
  • Promote your QR codes. In order to do this you can create a contest in the different social networks in which for instance, through the QR codes users can upload pictures to participate.

Aplicaciones de lectura de QR-Codes

There are many apps you can find that will let you read this codes. Here are the principal ones, according to the kind of device you have:

1. i-nigma QR-Code: Download it from Apple StoreAndroid Market or as a Blackberry app

2. QuickMark Reader

3. Kaywa Reader

Can you come up with a different use for the QR codes? Have you ever used them? Let us know in the comments section below or through our Facebook fanpage!! Also,  follow the latest trends and info about social media via our Twitter or Google+ accounts, find new pictures and infographics on Pinterest or join our interesting conversations with other specialists on our LinkedIn Group. We’ll be waiting for you!

A very special THANK YOU to Javi RP for the valuable collaboration on this post.