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Everything you need to know about QR codes

Everything you need to know about QR codes

You may not know a thing about QR codes, but you better get up to speed quickly because your competitor will likely use them to gain an edge.

Quick response, or QR, codes are those black and white boxes you’ve started to see plastered on posters, hot cards and on TV ads. They’re an incredible tool to use when promoting your restaurant and acquiring loyal, returning customers. If you use them correctly, you’re golden.

What are QR codes?

QR codes were first created for the automotive industry to help their robots track and store parts because they’re easier and faster to read than a standard bar code. QR codes then expanded into all types of warehouses to keep inventory of the product various warehouses hold.

QR codes work by having each unique code linked with a webpage, a click-to-call phone number, email address, a page of text or any other type of information you’d like your customers to access.

How they work

QR codes can only be scanned on smartphones or tablets, and a QR code reader doesn’t come standard with any device. However, QR codes are so popular and are scanned so often, most Smartphone users download a free QR code reader application, which uses the camera to scan the code.

To scan a QR code, open the application, touch the “scan” button on the reader, position the camera over the QR code, and if the code is active and easy to read, you’ll be alerted that the code was successfully scanned by either a ping or a buzz from your phone. The application then directs you to your browser with the webpage linked to the code, information page or phone number.

How to properly use QR codes

First, you should only use QR codes to lead to long-term important information. The best examples are to link QR codes to:

• Mobile website

• Mobile menu

• Click-to-call for call ahead seating, reservations or take-out orders

• Mobile coupons

• Opt-in email marketing list

• Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter

• Mobile review sites such as Yelp, Foursquare and Google places

You need to make sure that every page you send your customer to is mobile-friendly, because QR codes can only be scanned on mobile devices.

Once you decide where you want to send your customers with your QR codes, it’s time to start generating them. There are multiple QR code generators online. Some are free, but the quality isn’t fantastic. Other’s you do have to pay for, but they’re relatively inexpensive. Find a QR code generator that allows you to use those QR codes for commercial uses and test them to make sure they scan and read well. This is perhaps the most important step. If you use QR codes, you better make sure they work.


Placing your QR codes is the second-most essential process of using QR codes. You want to make sure they’re visible, easy to scan and prompt a strong call to action. The best places to put QR codes are:

• Hot cards in bill jackets

• Receipts

• Point of Purchase displays

• Pizza boxes or other food packaging

• Table tents in dining areas

Pair each QR code with a title, so the customer knows exactly what she’s getting when she scans the code. Remember to check each publication before printing. Don’t try to size the QR code in Photoshop or any other editing software. If you do, it will make it harder for the reader to scan the QR code. Choose the size you want when generating the original code.

Don’t forget…

Lastly don’t forget to check up on your QR codes. Again, the most important thing when using QR codes is making sure they work. Take time about once a week to scan all of your publications with your QR codes to make sure they’re reading quickly and are taking you to the information you want. Your customer wants to reach out to you through these codes; make sure you’re making the necessary communication back.

Sara Petersen is the Content and Marketing Manager for Punch Mobile Marketing. Her public relations background and devotion to technology, social media and the foodie movement makes her an expert in mobile marketing for restaurants. Visit to read more of Sara's articles about mobile marketing for restaurants.

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