At first glance, QR codes look like square mazes, but they are much more than unusual-looking images. They are present on most things today, and, while some people don’t know what they’re looking at, most people know that QR codes are links to something new. They are a way for objects to link to something else in the real world, much in the same way as hyperlinks connect to additional information on a web page. This link can be a powerful marketing tool for business, giving companies a chance to provide customers with further details on their products directly on the products themselves.
QR stands for “Quick Response,” and, functionally, this is a particular type of barcode. It can hold much more information than a standard barcode, however, as well as many more types of information. UPC barcodes are horizontal and can only be read in one direction, while QR codes are two-dimensional and can be read from any direction. Since they are two-dimensional, QR codes can have varied data patterns inside them, as opposed to the limited data provided by a bar code’s vertical lines. QR codes can store almost unlimited variations in data because so many different patterns can be created inside a single square code.
Compared to barcodes, QR codes can store a larger amount of data, in addition to providing more variety within that data. Barcodes can store 30 numbers, but a QR code can store up to 7,089 numbers. QR codes can save many more types of data than numbers, including text, hyperlinks, and even the download for a program or mobile app. Businesses can encode functionality into QR codes like advertising messages, customer service data, and logistics. QR codes are most often used as marketing tools, which is the focus of this article, but the possibilities of the data that they can contain are almost endless.
QR codes are not human-readable, but any device can read them with the ability to interpret them. It’s easy to download a QR reader on any smartphone or similar device, and many apps for this purpose are available for free. The codes work by containing a message within an image, similar to how magic eye puzzles work. QR code readers determine what the message is inside the image, and then translate it into a form that humans can read. Since this is all done computationally, it can be achieved very precisely without data loss.
QR codes are popular because they are so easy to use. Since they can hold so much data, they provide a more compact and efficient way to store information than plain text, and they don’t need to take up much space on products or upon packaging. The small amount of space they require can be a window to any additional content a business wishes to convey. Customers can be just a scan away from anything they need, wherever they are, as long as they have a working QR code reader. The code can be printed on almost anything, and it isn’t as vulnerable to misreading as a barcode.
When creating a customized QR code, it’s important to make sure that the code is being generated correctly, and that it’s being placed somewhere where customers can easily access it. The shapes of codes can be customized to match a business logo or a specific product better. Codes can link to all the data types mentioned earlier, regardless of how it looks. It’s essential, however, to consult with professional printers or marketers. QR codes seem deceptively simple, but creating a code incorrectly or placing it in an inconvenient place could cost a company many potential sales.
QR codes can also help businesses automate and streamline their processes. They can be used to quickly pull up files that business often uses, something which can be useful for many types of businesses. A print shop could use a QR code to run a sheet feeder, while a fabric shop could monitor statistics about different rolls of material or different files printed onto the same roll of textile. QR codes can connect to databases, inventory reports, or anything a business needs to coordinate.
MCT Digital utilizes QR codes in a very unique way. TigerVision (a vision-guided, machine front-end and graphical user interface software) is used in conjunction with the VersaTech2 to operate a built-in camera and read QR codes that help the digital cutter function with the software. The system reads the code and automates workflow by automatically bringing up a file that the user links to the QR code.
This makes it incredibly simple and fast to retrieve the associated job from a user-specified folder, process it, and move to the next unique job. Because QR codes can harness valuable information, you are able to recall very specific parameters that would usually vary between operators.
Almost any small business can benefit from QR codes. Most companies would likely get the most use out of them as marketing tools, but their flexibility means that they could potentially streamline, or even eliminate, inefficient internal processes. Either way, QR codes can make business operations easier, can save businesses money, and can help attract new customers.
For small businesses, in particular, these factors could mean the difference between success and failure, and using the most advanced tools tends to give new businesses an advantage over their competitors. QR codes are an invaluable way to engage a customer base, and they are easy to create, easy to use, and cost almost nothing to maintain. It’s likely that they will become even more popular over time, so businesses should make learning how to use them a top priority.