February 27, 2011 in Business

Smart phones can scan codes and get more information

QR codes gain favor in variety of industries
 

A Protect the Net QR code button is shown. It was distributed at the Consumer Electronics show to build on growing support among technology innovators for protecting the open Internet.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE –They’re popping up on merchandise, price labels, business cards and newspaper ads.

Black-and-white barcodes the size of a postage stamp are connecting people with smart phones to Internet sites, delivering immediate information and marking another advance in the world of the mobile Web.

Anyone with a smart phone can download a free QR reader application and scan the codes using the phone’s camera. The code then takes the user to a site with videos, coupons, special promotions, sweepstakes, surveys or whatever else the code holder is promising.

Real estate agents, auto dealers, property managers and nonprofits are among the early adopters of QR codes.

At Keller Williams Realty in Boise, associate brokers Dawn Templeton and Janet Parsons have used QR codes in their advertisements in the agency’s real estate magazine. The codes linked to their websites.

“My head started spinning when I thought of all the cool ways I could use it,” Parsons said.

Both women said they plan to place QR codes on fliers and signs at properties for sale so potential buyers can scan them and take a virtual tour while they’re standing in front of a home.

“This is fast. This is easy. This is hip,” Parsons said. “It’s leading edge.”

Businesses often begin using QR codes by putting them on business cards. The codes connect to contact information or a company website, said Cahill Jones, president of BizPrint, a printing/marketing company in Boise that designs and manages QR codes for clients.

The next step typically is to get more specific with a QR that goes to a survey, a coupon or a page where customers can order items, he said.

“You’re catching consumers at the exact moment when they are interested in the product,” Jones said. “The uses are just unlimited.”

St. Luke’s Women’s Fitness Celebration, a BizPrint client, experimented last year with a QR code displayed at an event booth and linked to its website. This year the organization plans to expand its use of the codes, said Lorene Oates, coordinator of sponsor services.

“We’re all pretty excited about it,” she said.

Jim Reimer, president of Boise-based property manager Management One Inc., has asked BizPrint to build a QR code that links to a map and directions to his office so that would-be renters and tenants dropping off applications or checks can find it easily.

“It’s a conversation piece, which is what I like,” he said.

Reimer manages 123 Valley homes and apartments, plus some homeowners associations and condos. He said many of his renters are younger people who want to be able to access information easily on their phones.

“If we want to reach the younger generation, we have to provide information the way they want it,” he said.

One QR code costs about $20 at BizPrint. Jones said QR management websites allow companies to track the number of people who scan them. As smart phone use grows, the codes will become more effective in raising awareness, increasing sales and promoting interaction, he said.

At the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Travis Quast, vice president of sales and marketing, said the advertising department is working with auto dealers and real estate professionals to provide QRs that will take consumers from a print ad to a website with information about the car or home in the ad.

For the print-edition newspaper, “it is the way to get people interacting with our pages,” Quast said. For advertisers, “it’s not about just taking them to the website; it’s about getting them involved with the product. It’s like a 24-hour salesperson.”


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