Have you seen those black-and-white, square barcodes popping up everywhere lately? They're called "QR," or quick response codes. They're a growing marketing tool for businesses and a way for techies - and basically, anyone who owns a smart phone - to get a good deal.
For the past six months, the Honolulu Burger Co. has been using QR codes to lasso in customers. "It spreads the word. A lot of people tell us, ‘Oh, we didn't know about you guys 'til the coupon came out'," says Crystal Ishikawa, counter server at Honolulu Burger Co. The company has been operating less than a year, but going high-tech is simply the new way of doing business.
That's why Jesse DeRamos has his own QR code in the works. He plans to mount his code on the side of his Filipino fusion food truck called Flipt Out.
"Most of our foodies are techies, also, and they all have smart phones," says DeRamos. "They all have cool tablets and whatevers, and they all have QR readers. So, if we start using them on our trucks, that will help circulate our advertisement."
QR codes are found in many magazines and newspapers. They're similar to one-dimensional barcodes we see in supermarkets, but these are two-dimensional. The encoded information can be a text, data, or link. It's a way to give consumers immediate access to information - and businesses are using it in all kinds of ways.
Take real estate, for instance. You're walking by. You see a home you like. You want some more information. You see the QR code on the For Sale sign outside the house. You scan the code, and there's the home listing on your smart phone.
A Toyota subsidiary created QR codes in 1994 to track auto parts. The Japanese now use them in everyday life ... and, come to think of it, death. A Japanese tombstone-maker is even using QR codes to keep folks connected to loved ones in the afterlife by putting them on the grave. A quick scan at the grave site brings up pictures and messages about the dearly departed.
Some consumers use QR codes for much simpler reasons. "I use them for discounts at restaurants and different shops. They do half-off," says Mallory Moriguchi.
In order to use QR codes on your smart phones, you'll need to download a QR code reader. Many are free apps, including I-nigma, Red Laser and Scan Life. One quick scan and you could be on your way to deep discounts and a world of information.
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