26 Mar 2019

What Is a QR Code? (+ How You Can Use QR Codes in 2019)

QR codes have become a part of our culture, but the odds that you’ve used them are relatively slim.

What is the definition of a QR code?

A QR code (which stands for Quick Response Code) is a scannable barcode that can direct a user to a website or carry out a specific action using a version of the matrix barcode.

Practically, QR codes are a means for marketers to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital worlds.

While this scanning software works much the same as barcode software, QR codes are designed to hold much more data. Barcodes translate into a set of letters, numbers and symbols, but a QR code can hold up to 406 bytes of data. That’s not much, but it’s enough to open a website or video on your phone.

For the retail and restaurant industries, a QR code is an easy tool to link directly to online ordering pages or social media profiles. In Asia, the Chinese social media app Weibo is widely used to make in-person purchases by scanning QR codes. User profiles are connected to a digital wallet. Scanning the code of their meal automatically deducts the price from their account. The West is not quite on board yet, mostly because many people aren’t comfortable with connecting their bank account to their social media.

Amazon, however, is trying to change that.

From making one-touch purchasing easy in the Amazon app to the cashierless Amazon Go stores that require a phone and a scanned QR code to even enter, businesses are starting to move toward leveraging mobile technology to make purchasing quick and easy on the go.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the basics.

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