Should Your Business Be Using QR Codes?

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Are QR codes dead? Ask Google that question and you get a variety of different headlines and just as many opinions.  A number of journalists have provided arguments for and against using QR codes in business. In her Ad Age article, “QR Codes Are Dead, Trampled by Easier-to-Use Apps,” B.L. Ochman suggests that new technology can make almost any product interactive, eliminating the need for QR codes. In an early 2013 article for Marketing Land, Aaron Strout also proclaimed the death of the QR code, including five reasons that QR codes are dead, only to recant in November 2013, publishing an article titled, “5 Reasons QR Codes Might Not Be As Dead As We Think.”

Although journalists sometimes focus on opinion alone, some have looked to data for a more succinct answer on the use of QR codes. Data released by ScanBuy last year suggests an increase in QR code use—the company processed 18 million scans via its ScanBuy application in Q1 2013, up from 13 million scans in Q1 2012. However, as MarketingCharts is quick to point out, in light of data from comScore showing that “smartphone penetration in the US (as a percentage of the mobile market) grew by 30% between Q1 2012 and Q1 2013, which suggests that the 38% increase in scans is not very dramatic.”

Advantages and Disadvantages of QR Codes

In the blog post “Are QR Codes Dead?” Hubspot author, Lindsey Kolowich, points out that there are a number of reasons “QR codes might be going ‘out of style,’ but the most important is probably that they’re often misused.” As Kolowich suggests, when deciding if your small business should be using QR codes, it’s important to consider the functionality and limitations.

iStock_000039889782From a consumer prospective, QR codes are dependent on mobile devices, which can be seen as a disadvantage or limitation. Because the codes are designed to translate into a text string that sends users to a website, phone number, or SMS, it’s also important users have Wi-Fi or cell phone reception when scanning your business’ QR codes—that means no subways.

Here are five ways QR codes can be used that take into account advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Include more contact information by adding QR codes to your business cards.
  2. Track your efforts by including QR codes in your print advertising.
  3. Use QR codes to include digital properties on print materials.
  4. Add QR codes to your product packaging to link customers to a page with useful resources.
  5. Add a QR code to an event ticket and link to a Google map, an RSVP page, or materials that event attendees need to bring along.

Although some may have abandoned the QR code bandwagon, others are still proponents of the use of QR codes for business. What side of the argument are you on? Tweet us at @Waspbarcode using #QRcode and let us know your thoughts on QR codes.

Want to start using QR codes for your business? Make sure to check out Wasp’s free QR code generator.

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Brian Sutter

Brian Sutter

Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. He also writes and speaks on topics related to helping small business owners grow their business and improve operational efficiency.
Brian Sutter
Brian Sutter