QR Codes: The next IT thing

Today while I was sorting through my piles of snail mail, bills, credit card offers, and numerous Christmas catalogs, I came across the Express Holiday 2010 booklet. I thumbed through it and just as it was going to its new home in the recycle bin, I noticed something that got the geek in me a little excited. On the back of the mailer, Express had listed not only its website URL, a “find us on Facebook” link and Twitter handle, but also a funny looking black and white computer language barcode. Now if you haven’t been following the latest buzz, you wouldn’t have thought twice about it. This is a QR Code.

What is it? A QR Code is short for a “quick-response code” and it could very well be part of the next wave of the future. Now, you’ve probably seen these codes on electronics or shipping boxes for years and never thought too much about them. QR Codes can be used to display information, which is why they have been used in shipping for decades. Well, let me explain how they can be used in a social setting.

When scanned, this new fangled marketing technique can instantly let customers and potential customers learn more about your business by visiting your website via their mobile phones.

How does it work? A user will need a QR reader installed on their iPhone, Blackberry or Droid. By scanning this black and white code, it will then take them to a website. Express happened to have an exclusive holiday video from their 2010 collection’s photo shoot.

Why would it be helpful? How many times have you seen a long URL code on a commercial or print ad that you wanted to visit? Well, how many times do you actually remember to do so? QR Codes can instantly take your customer to your website and learn more about your brand.

Our fast-paced society already has a jam-packed schedule that makes it difficult to reach buyers unless you give them a way to take swift action and interact with your brand. QR Codes can direct an otherwise passive viewer to take immediate action by making a purchase, taking a survey or interacting with your brand’s social networks.

Next time you see one of these funny looking codes in a magazine, on a billboard, a bus or even a business card, check it out with your smartphone. My favorite QR reader for the iPhone is the i-nigma app. Open this app and use your phone’s camera to scan the barcode. You never know where a code may take you.