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QR Codes...Who? What? Uhhh...

So what are these funky, square, maze-looking symbols that you see on printed materials nowadays? Well, they have nothing to do with the Illuminati. They are called Quick Response Codes, or QR Codes. Basically, they are a graphical link to a website, product, event, etc.

Most smartphones have a built-in application with their camera or users can download one of a plethora of apps to can scan these codes and send them directly to the website. The codes, also referred to as matrix barcodes, were originally developed for the automotive industry and have since found their way deep into the everyday consumer market. They are found everywhere - there is even one on my wall calendar from the Nature Conservancy on Thanksgiving Day linking to a video from their scientists. (The image in this article was compiled of photos from the bundle of coupon flyers that come in the mail. There were many more, but you get the idea.)

Good places for a florist to use QR Codes:

Printed Material. When a person scans a QR Code, the are most likely using a smartphone, tablet, or some other portable device. They access their device, open their application of choice, hold it up to the code, scan it, and BAM! To your florist website they go. The codes work great on flyers, enclosure cards, envelopes and pretty much anything printed.

Not so good places to use QR Codes:

Online. Why you may ask? If the user is currently online, they can just click a link to go to a website. That is substantially faster and easier than grabbing their device, opening the scanning app, trying to get it to focus on the screen to scan, scanning it and finally looking at the site on their mobile device instead of the bigger screen directly in front of them. In a nutshell, your floral website and Facebook page are not good places for a QR code.

Where can you get a QR Code for your website?
Here are a few online options that will create one specifically for you:

http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
http://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/
http://delivr.com/QR-Code-Generator
http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/

The best part is most are free - so for those folks offering to make one for you for a "nominal fee", try these first.

The Bottom Line:

QR Codes can be used effectively, especially for people on the go. A very short description by, under or above the code can also help. While the codes have been around since 1994, invented by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, they are now available to everyone who wants to use them, including florists.