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Aug 17, 2011

How Will You Use QR Codes?

By Tami Deedrick

In a recent EXTRA article, Aaron Bartell started a series on QR codes. You've seen them--little squares filled with strange black and white boxes to form a pattern. You may be wondering how they even work, much less what you can do with them yourself. 

Aaron was in that boat not too long ago himself. Now he's convinced that there is potential for this technology. Read his article--and the two are that to come next month--and then put on your thinking cap. How could QR technology enhance your business?

Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section below. 




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Here is my two cents. All my thoughts are distribution business related for now. I'm sure that folks from other industries (manufacturing, services, hospitality) will have their say too.

1. Quick price and availability retrieval for a traveling salesperson. IT would generate a bunch of QR codes for all active SKU's and combinations of active SKU/customers since customers may have exclusive promotions such as discounts, rebate programs, etc.

A QR code would encode a uri to enable the CGI program to retrieve relevant info via a GET method.

An index table would accompany a QR IFS repository having index entries pointing to the locations of individual tag files.

A service program procedure would return a unit price for an SKU (or, as a variation, for an SKU/customer combination) - such a procedure would encapsulate a legacy "server" program so business logic consistency could be enforced. Another procedure could return available quantity or backorder status (and lead time if feasible).

For a sales person, a web page would be made available where they could pick an SKU (and optionally customer number) to retrieve and print a corresponding QR code to scan it and bookmark the uri on their smartphone.

The CGI program would return a light dynamic HTML page utilizing the service program above.

One may ask at this point: why bother generating the QR codes if pricing info could be retrieved right off the SKU/customer number pick-up. The answer: to minimize the typing to retrieve the info when it is needed. You point your smartphone camera to the QR code (or get to the uri bookmark), and you're done.

2. A version of above for customer self-service. Perhaps, a mailing promotion campaign with QR codes embedded in the flyer. Or, perhaps, several QR codes attached to the salesman's business card. Additional events (e-mail alerts, writing records to an audit files) could be triggered by customer web inquiries to measure the success of the campaign. You probably want to incorporate some sort of customer authentication to that method so any customer specific pricing programs could be included by business logic.

3. QR code attached to order partial shipment to retrieve the status of backorder in real time.

4. (My favorite). Order confirmation e-mail as an HTML file with a QR code to retrieve current status of the order. A wealth of relevant info could be made instantly available to customer that they would normally request via phone calls to customer service.

14 Million Americans Scanned QR or Bar Codes on their Mobile Phones in June!

Aaron, great article! We share your passion of helping the IBM i crowd create modern applications. We may be able to further simplify the process. Here is another approach for IBM i developers that allows them to both print and create QR lookup applications without coding in a few minutes. Take a look:

Thanks, Paul Holm - PlanetJ Corporation

Very cool, Paul!

So many ways to use QR Codes.

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