What are QR codes and how do they work?

QR Code
QR Code

What are QR codes and how do they work?

A QR (short for quick response) code is a type of two dimensional barcode. Initially developed, patented and owned by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave for car parts management. After deciding to not to exercise their patent rights, QR Codes have been adopted by various other industries.

QR Codes typically uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte / binary, and kanji) to efficiently store data. The QR Code system has become popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard barcodes.

Where are QR Codes found?

These codes are found everywhere that you might find a traditional barcode. Additionally QR Codes are now being included on business cards, print ads and even on humorous t-shirts.  Where ever you might want to convey information a QR Code can be used.

These are particularly useful when directing visitors from an offline source to a particular page on a website. Often a page deep within a website such as a single property listing would have a long URL to type in, or alternatively require the visitor to reach the website and use a reference number, scanning the code the visitor is directed straight to this page – instantly improving their overall user experience on that website.

How do you read the code?

QR Codes work in much the same way the traditional barcode works. Once scanned the two dimensional code is translated and the relative information is displayed.

The user with a smartphone needs a QR Code reader, but it takes literally 1 minute for someone with a smartphone to find and install the reader. Once installed you simply scan the code and the appropriate action can be taken. Typically QR Codes are used as a short cut to a particular page on a website, to download an application or in the case of BlackBerry messenger to add a new contact.

Where can I get a QR Reader?

Most smartphones are able to install and run a QR Code reader with most application vendors offering a mixture of free and paid for options. Here are a few free ones that you might want to try out:

Android:  QR Droid Code Scanner

Apple:  QR Reader for iPhone

Windows:  QR Code Scanner Pro

How could you use a QR Code for Real Estate?

As mentioned above, a QR Code is a lot easier to scan than to type a long URL into a phone or even into a desktop web browser. On either of these platforms a typo could occur or characters might be misread. Once setup the QR Code will direct the visitor precisely to where they need to be.

These codes can be used with:

  • Window Displays: While some information is available on a window display, those browsing through these listings may want to know a little more about that particular property, or save it for later consideration.
  • Print Ads: Similar to window displays, print ads offer very limited information, again linking back to the listing in question offers those going through the publication a direct link to anything they find of interest.
  • Business Cards: Business cards are handed out and often find themselves relegated to the bottom of a draw somewhere.  Including a link to a virtual business card through a QR Code offers the potential client the opportunity to take something away and to instantly add the agent with all relevant details to their phone’s contact list.
  • Showhouses: A QR Code on a show board or show listing can direct the visitor to a set of directions.  Most smartphones have a GPS built in allowing the user to quickly determine the route to the property on show.
  • Events: Promoting an event often requires conveying a lot of information, much of which is crucial that it followed correctly such as directions, times or dress code. A QR Code can quickly log that all of that on a calendar along with a reminder.

This is not an exhaustive list of uses, but goes some way to showing how you can link the offline world to the mobile one. With more and more online transactions taking place on mobile devices, the easier you make if for the end user, the better their overall experience.  Visitors that enjoy using your website and related services are likely to return and to become an active lead.