Where (and how) small businesses can use QR codes

Over the last year, safety has been the top concern for business owners all over the world, and we've seen quick response (or QR) codes make a comeback as part of this pivot. Whether for touch-free restaurant menus or contactless transactions, QR codes are now easier than ever to use. With most smartphones, you just need to position the code within your camera and a URL will automatically generate.

When it comes to your small business, there are a lot of places you can add a QR code, including on everyday marketing materials like:

  • Business cards
  • Magnetic car signs
  • Window decals
  • Sheet stickers
  • Vinyl banners
  • Foam boards
  • Tabletop roller banners

Where is the best place to use a QR code, and what type of QR-coded product is best for your small business?

The best place to use a QR code depends on what kind of business you run, and what you want your QR code to link to. Whether you want to use QR codes to accept payments, give customers more information or streamline your services, here are some ideas for using QR codes (and product suggestions) based on various types of small businesses.

For restaurant owners:

One of the most popular ways we've seen QR codes make a comeback is through contact-free restaurant menus. If you haven't already, set one up for your eatery and display it in a prominent, easy-to-scan location — maybe on a tabletop roller banner, a window decal on your front door or a banner by the take-away counter.

Does your restaurant offer contact-free pickup? Include a scannable QR code in the order confirmation email you send to customers — when they arrive to pick up their order, you can scan it to create a streamlined pick-up process.

For gym owners:

Whether you run a large gym or boutique fitness studio, consider using QR codes to create a safe, seamless experience when checking in or registering for a class. Try printing a QR code on a tabletop roller banner for easy check-in, or adding a window decal to your studio entrance for touch-free registration.

Or, if you're trying to attract new members, add a QR code to a high-visibility item (like a banner or poster) that links to a virtual gym tour, a preview of your class offerings or a special sign-up offer.

For service providers:

If you provide a service like construction, masonry, gardening, plumbing or commercial painting and decorating, you can get in on the QR code action, too. Use QR codes to make it easy for customers to book an appointment, fill out a quote request form or leave a review. Add a QR code to a window decal or magnetic car sign so potential customers can quickly scan for more information when they see your parked vehicle.

Are you providing a service that requires follow-up from the customer's end? At the end of your appointment, leave them with a QR-coded business card with special instructions on how to maintain their new garden or look after their new flooring.

QR code products for service providers

For estate agents:

A property listing is only as good as its photos, so make it easy for potential buyers to see the full gallery or take a video tour via a QR code. Add one to the one-sheet displayed for each property in your agency window.

In addition to using QR codes for visual purposes, try using a code when you need to give potential buyers directions to your office or a property. Print some on a sheet of stickers you can easily attach to your business card and give to buyers.

QR code products for estate agents

For retailers and shop owners:

Whether you run an online boutique or bricks-and-mortar shop, incorporate QR codes into your packaging — use them to link to your social media, a discount code for their next purchase or a feedback form. Add a QR code to the stickers you use to brand your paper shopping bags and to the business card or postcard you include with every order. This is a great way to create an interactive shopping experience from start to finish!

QR code products for retail

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Want to create a complete brand experience? Here's a great example. If you run a clothes shop, add a QR-coded sticker to an item's hang tag that scans to a styling video or related product suggestions.

For everyone:

Regardless of what kind of small business you own, there are plenty of ways to make QR codes work for you. Here are some universal ideas for embracing this technology.

  • QR codes are a more affordable way for small business owners to accept contactless payments.
  • Add a QR code to your business card to share contact information or quickly direct someone to your website.
  • Use a QR code to run giveaways — incentivise someone to fill out a contact form or sign up for your newsletter via the QR code you provide, then reward them with a discounted service or freebie.
  • Boost your social media following with QR codes that link to your Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter pages. Just add the QR code to your business card, in-store signage or emails!
  • Add a QR code to receipts or invoices to get customer feedback in just a few clicks.

Ready to use a QR code for your small business?

Whether you've decided to use QR codes to run giveaways, accept contact-free payments or display restaurant menus, there are still a few things you need to do. Before you debut your new QR-coded product, make sure you:

  • Have a call to action. Beneath your QR code, include an actionable request, like ‘Scan here’ or ‘Visit my website’.
  • Properly position it. Make sure your QR code is displayed in a way that's easy to scan — leave some space around it when designing your business cards or banners.
  • Test it out yourself. Before you hang up your QR-coded poster, give it a try for yourself! Then, have your employees, friends or family members test it out, too.
  • Create an incentive for customers. Get customers excited about using your QR code by attaching an incentive to it. For example, if they scan your code to subscribe to your newsletter, they'll be entered into a prize draw to win a gift card.

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