For years the small black and white squares were something of a marketing joke. Originally developed in Japan, Quick Response codes, or QR codes as we’ve come to call them, failed to catch on in America. Things for the small squares started to change, however, when Apple enabled its iPhone camera to read the codes in 2017, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, QR codes seized their moment in the marketing spotlight.

Nowhere is the now ubiquitous code more prevalent in our COVID-19 conscious world, than in restaurants where 50% of restaurants now utilize them according to the National Restaurant Association. In an effort to reduce high touch surfaces and limit face-to-face interactions, eateries across the country swapped their physical menus for QR codes during the past year and a half. These codes, whether placed in an acrylic frame on each table or taped down, directed guests to online menus where they could place their order online, and also pay.

But restaurants aren’t the only places adopting QR codes. These days you can find QR codes anywhere from the grocery store aisle, to individual products, to receipts and signage. And they aren’t just practical, the New York Times estimates that QR codes save businesses approximately 30-50% on labor costs and result in increased purchase amounts.

Here are ways you can use QR codes for your business:

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