By Rachel Newman
What’s black and white and appearing all over your favorite magazines and television programs? It’s called a QR code, and no, it’s not a printing or broadcasting error. Rather, it’s the newest way for consumers to access up-to-date detailed information about anything from contests on your local news station to a sale at Macy’s.
These ingenious little codes work just like barcodes. Though, they are all similar in appearance, each is distinguishable from the rest, and when they are photographed by a smartphone, retrieve specific information. QR codes, or Quick Response Codes, are sweeping the nation, but many of us (especially those still nursing a phone with a retractable antenna) may be feeling left in the dust. Here’s a quick FAQ to get everyone up to speed:
What is a QR Code? A QR Code is a small white square with small sections of black covering it. It can be read by the camera of a smartphone, and once read redirects the smartphone user to a webpage instantly.
How are QR Codes used? QR Codes can be used in an endless variety of ways. Though they were originally intended for use by vehicle manufacturers to track parts, today they can be used to market a business or to provide further information on a product or service. QR Codes can most often be seen in magazine or newspaper advertisements, but also have many unusual applications like their use in replacing informational signs on hiking or nature trails.
**Remember: You have to download a QR Code reader app to your smartphone before you can take advantage of the new technology.
Do I have to have a smartphone to be able to access the information in a QR Code? Yes. Short of owning a barcode reader, a smartphone is the only way that users can take advantage of a QR Code.
Why should my business offer QR Codes? QR Codes are rapidly becoming the new way to retrieve information from the internet. Instead of typing in a URL or searching your business over Google, consumers can simply scan your QR code and instantly access your website. Not only does using a QR Code make your business more readily available to your customers, but it also places you ahead of the technological curve. While QR Codes are still taking off in the United States, experts estimate that they will be a household name in five years. Studies show that their usage in the US has risen 4000% over the last year.
Does the BBB offer QR Codes for its Accredited Businesses? Yes, beginning this week, if you are a BBB Accredited Business, you will be able to download and print a new kind of decal for your company. The BBB-provided QR Codes will allow consumers to instantly access your BBB Business Review, and can be used anywhere on any medium.
Where do I begin? If you would like to access your BBB-provided QR Code, read our instructional guide.