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Back to Basics for QR Codes

My eldest son is in the hospital for a short stay and while all the doctors and nurses call him by name, he is a number to the hospital. Literally, he is the information linked to the QR code on his ID bracelet. Whenever he’s given a pill, poked, or prodded, his QR code is scanned and entered into a database. It’s odd to talk about QR codes outside of the marketing uses I usually cover but it’s a reminder of the original use Denso Wave intended for the humble 2-D code. Its purpose was to track vehicles during manufacture; it was designed to allow high-speed component scanning… like my son and his assorted body parts that make up his vehicle.

While Toyota certainly benefited from QR codes in its production capabilities, how would a smaller business make good use of QR codes? Are there any tasks or administrative needs that a QR code will handle, saving time and effort for a business owner?

QR code and health care

For a hospital, a QR code-enabled database creates up-to-date information on a patient. A total repository of all the available information, updated constantly. At my car dealership, a QR code keeps track of my service appointments (and sends me reminder texts), offers me coupons on upcoming service and keeps track of my bonus account for free service based on what I’ve spent. Information Retrieval some call it. An old term is “garbage-in-garbage-out.” A constant flow of inventory. How do you keep track of it when you have a small business and time is a big consideration?

1. Start with a free QR code generator (free certainly puts you ahead of the game!).
2. Choose a database management tool of your preference and needs.
3. Assign your QR code links to different tasks.
4. Printout a sheet of QR code stickers on your inkjet printer.
5. Peel and stick on incoming inventory
6. Attach to customer invoices/receipts
7. Place on customer feedback cards
8. A QR code on your business card encourages people to register with your business online.

Information Retrieval works both ways for businesses and consumers. While businesses need consumers to willingly give contact information, and usually personal preferences as well, consumers want to retrieve specific information from a business. Most businesses rely upon having a customer register to receive a piece of information that will be stored on the user’s mobile device. For example, regular customers of a restaurant would want the menu on their devices so they can plan their meal in advance and would be willing to register to receive notice of specials.

Loyalty programs are another way to pump up Information Retrieval. It supplies customer information that is updated with every transaction. The old punch cards have been replaced with scannable codes.

QR code health

There are administrative uses for QR codes a small business can use to streamline operations. A few examples from the article, “Uses for QR Codes Around the House“, fit well with small business needs.

QR code theft protection

While your marking electronics for manual retrieval, put a code on the bottom of the unit with a link to your name and address in case of theft. Many pawnshops don’t check someone’s story of needing money for a cat’s whiskerectomy beyond the spoken pitch and noting their ID, which can be fake. When they discover the QR code and the link, it will be easier for them to return the merchandise to you and have the seller arrested. Most pawnshops are honest and bound by law, so a QR code will help you retrieve your property.

For your business: Your office has computers and electronics it would be hard to replace, so having a QR code database of serial numbers is important.

What’s in that box?

Do you have boxes and boxes of items stored in your basement or attic and wonder which box has an item you need right away? How long would it take you to open and search every box? Chances are, it’ll be in the last box you open and search.

If you take a few photos of what’s in each box, create an album on Flickr and tie a QR code to it, with the code pasted on the outside of the box, you can scan and discover in a matter of minutes just by looking through the photo album.

For your business: There’s always something to store, so when it comes time to find that one box you need right away, a QR code database can not only tell you where the needed item is, but its location as well!

QR codes and electronics manuals

If you’re like me, you have a binder filled with the instruction manuals for all of your electronic devices that you have no idea where you put it. So, like me, every time you need to refer to the manual, you need to upend the device, copy down the make and model number, search the internet and find the online user’s manual. Then, down the road, you need to do it again for whatever reason. If the devices are piled up, carefully wired through the back of an entertainment unit or on shelves, it’s a huge headache.

Try generating a QR code (free), assigning the online manual URL to it and sticking it in a corner of the unit where you can scan it easily. When you need the manual again, it’s easy to get right to it, or email the URL to your desktop and bookmark it (you can bookmark it on your phone as well). Now you know where all your user’s manuals are!

For your business: Any business with more than one employee needs a library of important paperwork. They might be manuals, or just a list of something procedural that an employee needs right away. Through their own mobile devices, they can retrieve information right away.

The QR code has become another button we push to make life easier and quicker. Just knowing the capabilities of QR codes and a little imagination, and you’ll see that you find uses for QR codes that no one has considered before. The hard work of inventing them is done. All you have to do is figure out where to use them!

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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