QR Code: Nancy Shenker, Founder and CEO of Yonkers Firm theONswitch, Explains Quick Response Codes



Noticed the proliferation of those black-and-white boxes known as QR (quick response) codes on magazines, newspapers, billboards, and business cards? Originally designed by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, to track vehicle parts, QR codes have become commonplace in Japan and are slowly being implemented globally. “They’ve started cropping up in magazine ads, on T-shirts, and even beer cans and wine bottles,” says Nancy Shenker, founder and CEO of Yonkers-based marketing firm theONswitch.

Much like the standard barcode, QR codes are made up of uniquely arranged black segments on a white background; however, they differ greatly in their capacity to display coded information. Generally, barcodes can display 20 digits of data—only. QR codes can display thousands of coded alphanumeric characters. With such capacity, they can encode any Web address regardless of the length of the URL, making them a valuable advertising and marketing tool for businesses and individuals alike.

With any smartphone, consumers can scan these codes and be taken directly to the encoded website to access almost everything from menus, photos, and detailed product descriptions to special discounts and paperless coupons. “They provide a great, simple way for consumers to learn more or buy more without having to key in or remember names or complicated URLs," Shenker says. "I’m wearing a bracelet now made by a Tarrytown company, called Skanz, that links to my website, so I never have to carry around business cards.”

And creating these codes couldn’t be easier. By simply visiting one of the many code-generating websites out there, companies and individuals can instantly create a code themselves without spending money on a computer programmer or tech wizard. “What’s scary to me as a professional communicator is that we may be heading toward a world where people simply point, grunt, and scan,” Shenker adds. “That said, being scannable is a smart bet for businesses.”
—Chris McCree