QR Codes: How something so simple is changing the game

QR Codes have been around since 1994. The concept is simple: a barcode that, when scanned, electronically provides you information about a certain item, product, or event.

In recent years, this simple tool has gained traction in a variety of ways largely thanks to the evolution of smartphones.


Everyone has a smartphone. Most likely even your grandparents have (perhaps begrudgingly) bought a smartphone.





Due to this fact of life, QR codes have become more prevalent. No longer are QR codes just used to scan items at stores. They are now beneficial through many facets of our daily lives.


QR codes are simple yet mystifying. If we see a QR code on the street outside, our natural inquisitive reaction is to scan it with our phones to see where it takes us to. And… these codes can take us to just about anywhere.


Charitable Causes


I am sure all of you recall the recent mass shooting tragedy that took place in Buffalo. Weeks ago, at the “Taste of Buffalo”, an annual event held in the upstate city of New York, heart shaped barcodes were set up to be scanned by citizens attending the event. These barcodes directed people to a site set up to donate money towards victims’ families.

What a great idea and a great cause. Sure, the organizers of this festival could have spread the word about donating through social media or word of mouth. And I’m certain that still happened too. But the mystique and creativity of the QR code was implemented perfectly here. The final totals have yet to be released, but I am sure a good amount of money was donated. A great cause and a sleek way to get the word out.




Advertisements


Recently on Television, quick commerce platform Dunzo ran an ad that largely had no other purpose than to present a QR code on the screen.


Sure, you could say the ad was boring.


But that wasn’t the point. The point was to drive its viewing audience to take notice, engage, and scan the code.




And I’m sure it worked. It had to. How many times have you seen this done before? My guess is not many. But it works. How couldn’t it? Most of us are just too curious not to scan the code to see where your smartphone takes you.


Compare this to running a normal add attempting to convince an audience to manually type in your website to check it out. It would have to be a dang good commercial to convince the masses to do so. And even then.. good luck.


Adds Dunzo CEO Kabeer Biswas “Coming up with an engaging piece of content or a vanilla brand message for 20 seconds doesn’t cut through owing to the attention span of the people today.”




Well said. These days, with so much at our fingertips, we are as lazy as ever. We crave something unique and creative.


Pepsico in India has also been using QR codes to engage customer experience. Something so simple. But, yet again, so effective. If you’re sitting around drinking one of their many products playing on your smartphone, of course you would contemplate checking out the QR code on the can.


For you reading this article. Have a business that you’re looking to further promote? What better way to do so than to invest $100 on obtaining QR stickers that you can slap onto telephone polls in various areas around town. I bet it works to some extent, and it’s cheap.

Looking to land a job but having trouble? Create a QR code for your resume. You never know who may pick up their phones and scan it.




Restaurants


Yes, the biggest controversy of them all in the hospitality industry. Should QR codes become the norm in restaurants?


There are certainly arguments on both sides here. QR codes became increasingly prevalent in the industry at the beginning of the pandemic, and largely have remained.




It was hard to deny that they were a positive. In the spring of 2020, not having to pick up a menu or extensively interact with a server made total sense.


But now that COVID is reasonably under control, should QR codes keep a presence within the industry?


From a personal standpoint, I think not (A recent Washington Post article entitled, “QR Code menus are the death of civilization has my back on this). As I believe I wrote in an earlier blog post a year ago, I enjoy the true restaurant experience. This entails holding a menu, and the exchanges back and forth with the staff that make for a relaxing evening out.




I also mentioned in the article that QR codes in restaurants are the first step in what seems to be the lessening of staff throughout the industry. If you have QR codes, who really needs a bunch of waiters? Why not just have a few in due time? In theory, we are not far off from being able to order and ask all sorts of specific questions regarding the menu from our smartphones.


But, on the other hand, this is not the greatest news for the fine people of the restaurant industry. Jobs will become increasingly harder to find. For all these reasons, I am for the general evolution of the QR code, but against its remaining in the restaurant industry.


Summary


QR codes are here to stay. As I was writing this blog post, it became apparent to me just how useful these little gadgets can be. Something so simple, yet so innovative.




As written above, QR codes have so many possibilities: Fundraising, advertising, simplifying.


What stands out the most for me: QR codes spark our curiosity. In a world where we have everything at our fingertips and right in front of us, QR codes are here to stay.



 


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