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The Return of the QR code

It seems QR codes are joining a list of exclusive tools that seem to keep coming back from the dead. Another is 3D movies which were big news in the ’50s, ’80s and ’10s (So we're looking forward to seeing Avatar 60 in 3D in 2040)

Right now QR codes are booming because of the COVID-19 lockdown and there being no other quick alternative to note down who entered a business’s premises (let’s not mention a pen and paper)

Incidentally, it is good to know that as the NZ COVID Tracer app focuses on the use of QR codes it is doing quite well when compared to other countries concerning privacy.

Anyways for now QR codes are benefitting. First created in 1994 as a Quick Response Code in the automotive industry to help describe where a car was in the manufacturing process it has since grown to be used in various ways in shops, at events, on products and in the wild.

Though there are three key reasons that have stopped QR codes from sticking around,

  • The hassle of users having to get their phone out and scan it – back in the day you also needed an app to do the scan, not just your phone camera.
  • The fact that your ad or poster has to waste space by having the code and perhaps an explanation on how to use the QR code.
  • It’s’ inability to gather as much data as an app, which also gives a business the benefit of ongoing customer loyalty.


This has meant QR codes appear in articles every few years stating they are making a comeback, like this blog itself or this Wired article from 2017.
Though in 2020 things are different – many think apps have privacy issues, everyone is more addicted to using their phones and everyone now due to lockdown knows what QR codes do. Wired actually wrote an article on this too.

So here are creative ideas for how you can use QR codes in the future, wherever they are popular or not.

  • You sell products – You know when a house appliance is faulty and you search high and low for a manual which you actually chucked out years ago; well if the appliance has a QR code on its bottom linking to the manual it can save your customers that frustration. Or perhaps you can link to brand-building content, say you sell wine then the QR code on the product can link to a friendly video from the winemaker.
  • You have a store/restaurant – Customers could scan the code for special limited deals, links to social media accounts, links to further information or rating sites. You could even set up QR codes to create automatic payments like in South Korean supermarkets, which would make the whole store itself touch-free, crucially reducing COVID-19 transferring via surfaces.
  • Other – Why not add it to your business card for further details, or to increase competition entries and survey results; or in a scavenger hunt for kids or adults, or to promote connected businesses or as a service in the local community – the possibilities are endless. And the code itself does not need to be on printed paper, you can have it on fabric, wood, digital screens or as a tattoo!


Generate a QR Code

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