QR Codes, coming to a business near you?

QR Codes, coming to a business near you?

…That is of course, if they’re not already there

It was just last month (September 2012) that a bill was approved in NYC that required all licensed / inspected organizations and businesses to display a corresponding QR code. The idea behind this ruling is that anyone can simply traipse by, snag a snapshot of their quick response code and instantly find a bevy of information online about the corresponding business. This ruling comes on the heels of another New York initiative to make all public data about a business available via online sources (by 2016). The most recent bill is to be implemented immediately and allots institutions up to one calendar year to comply.

New York is always ahead of the game it seems (in many different respects). What this initiative is trying to create is a new type of instantly available consumer service, the likes of which will allow the average person to make more informed consumer decisions on the spot.

But before investigate the applications and ramifications of this landmark initiative, here’s a little info for those who are just discovering QR Codes (or, Quick Response Codes) for the first time. A QR code is basically a new approach to the traditional barcode. Although there are various sizes, your basic QR code is a square with three smaller square markers (used for positioning) in their corresponding corners as well as a forth smaller square being present to help with alignment.

Inside the square however, there are various patterns that encode different types of information. Virtually anything can be programmed, stored or conveyed in a QR code, the only limitation is once again, relative size. Originally, QR codes were used solely in the automotive industry, but now they’ve found their way into all levels of retail and beyond. These days, you can find these codes virtually everywhere, and they’re often used to redirect individuals to a particular website.

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Anyway, getting back on point; by having QR codes available on or near all businesses, it would provide a very easy means for individual consumers to access critical information very quickly. For instance, being able to queue up health department scores for restaurants, critical reviews, or even access to special promotions is beyond being simply “handy” from the point-of-view of your average consumer. Given the somewhat ambiguous names and purposes of some shops, having a QR code available to quickly scan would also allow people to more readily understand what a business is selling or trying to achieve.

However, businesses will be able to take advantage of this initiative in new ways as well. As mentioned, scanning a business’ QR code might lead the hapless consumer to some form of promotion or advertisement; why couldn’t businesses use this opportunity to add a dash of interactive potential to the mix? For instance, once a prospective consumer scans the corresponding business’ QR code, they might be able to walk through the store receiving random bits of useful information about specific products.

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Likewise, the idea of virtual shopping is becoming increasingly appealing in modern society. It is very likely that this NYC initiative might lead to a new form of virtual shopping wherein consumers simply scan the QR code outside and then run through the store quickly scanning any additional QR codes which correspond to the products they want to buy (think of it as a way to “do your grocery list in public”). The purpose of this being, later on, your items would be delivered at a specific time.

On the more immediate side of things however, having a mandate in place which requires businesses to have QR codes available, will undoubtedly have a positive effect on restaurants and most businesses. Certainly no one is benefiting from being located next door to unhealthy, unruly or outright dangerous establishments. Having a system like this in place will allow consumers to learn more about a business, but it might also allow them to share information in a broader manner as well. In other words, just imagine what might happen if social networking were to get interwoven into this project; that would be very interesting indeed.