Remember these?

QR codes have been around since the mid 1990’s, but are seeing a big comeback as businesses everywhere have had to find innovative ways to engage with customers in light of the coronavirus pandemic. What was for many years an inconvenient and sometimes unreliable technology, has now become a simple and effective method for businesses big and small to offer patrons a touch-free experience.

QR or “Quick Response” codes are 2D images that when scanned, prompt a certain action. They can be used to fulfill a variety of purposes, such as:

    • Link to a website, landing page, or PDF
    • Direct users to leave a review on Yelp, Foursquare, etc.
    • View messages or access special offers
    • View a Google maps location
    • Direct to a social media profile

PayPal has even rolled out a new feature in its mobile app that lets consumers pay at restaurants, shops, or anywhere simply by scanning the code.

Whereas in the past scanning a QR code required users to download a third-party app, it’s now been made very easy. Today’s smartphones – both iPhones and Androids – have a QR code reader built directly into the camera. Now it’s as simple as opening the camera app. Users point their camera at the QR code so it is clearly visible and a notification will appear which, when tapped, will open the desired function.

For restaurants and tasting rooms, QR codes have become particularly useful in supplementing printed menus. Many locations have affixed codes to tabletops and walls, allowing customers to view digital versions of the menu or even place mobile orders from their seat, greatly reducing the amount of contact between staff and patrons. QR codes are also handy for placing outside a business, to give passersby an easy and quick way to learn more about what’s being offered inside.

Creating a QR code is simple. Many sites, like QR Stuff, QR Code Monkey, and QR Code Generator, will let you generate and download a code for free. With subscriptions, these sites and many others, such as Beaconstac, can also provide added features like scan analytics or custom-designed codes.