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Join the dots – QR Codes

publication date: Aug 22, 2011
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Sometimes it is hard to get to grips with new technology, if it doesn’t ‘click’ straight away it can be an uphill struggle to understand the how, what and why of a new gadget.

So, as they used to say on the Agony Aunt columns, ‘imagine my surprise’ when I was forced to check out these new QR Codes – and found that it was simple, clever and, most amazingly, it works! QR Codes are Quick Response Codes, a new type of barcode.

I first learnt about barcodes nearly 100 years ago at school, in Maths. At the time, we were taught what made up a barcode and how those clever new things called computers could read them and price, track and re-order stock when the barcode was scanned.

Older and wiser, I now don’t care how these new QR Codes work, I just care that they do, and are an excellent, instant way for potential homebuyers or prospective tenants to instantly retrieve details about a property by waving their smartphone in front of the QR Code.

How to crack QR Codes

In brief, you need a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, HTC etc). Then you need to download an App; on the advice of Evolvin’s Chris Haines, I downloaded one called i-nigma, from the Apple iTunes store, it was whizzed, free of charge, to my phone.

This App is very clever, as is the technology behind QR Codes which it was created by a Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, in Japan. You hold your phone in front of the QR Code, wherever it may be, on a For Sale board, in a magazine or newspaper, even on a hoarding by the roadside. The little square box of unique dots is photographed and the details of the property (or any other product or event) are instantly downloaded to your smartphone – brilliant.

The excitement was mounting as I then moved on from being a mere voyeur of other peoples’ products, concerts, conferences etc to creating my own. How very clever this is. On you go to Create barcodes. Choose create barcode, type in a website address (URL), give it a name, choose the format and size and instantly, before your eyes, your unique barcode is created.

If you have an Apple computer you drag the picture onto your desktop, otherwise you right click and save it.
As a test, before you send this QR Code to anyone, you can just click on the i-nigma App on your smartphone, place the phone in front of your computer and the QR Code is scanned and instantly the relevant webpage, link or video comes up, with all the information you were seeking.

Once you are sure that the QR Code is working, it is easily added into printed materials, websites and of course property boards, ready for those switched on smartphone savvy types to access your sales information in double quick time.

As with all innovations, the sceptics will always question the need for such things, what will it replace? Will anyone use it? Is it just a gimmick, but the QR Code, in my view is a really neat little trick. Anything this simple, that provides such instant information, has to become mainstream rather than geek-tastic in a very short time, so my advice is, don’t be the last on the boat.

There is one other thing that you need to know, the QR Code is free. Yes, free, complimentary, no cost at all. Aside from a few seconds of your time and a square inch of space on your printed adverts or boards etc. The usual way to put the code on the board however, is not going to be free, as you won’t want to print a whole board for each property, so small stick on patches are the way to go, and several suppliers are now offering these at very low cost.

Agents catching on to QR Codes
Fine & Country Cambridgeshire is using QR Codes to link their offline marketing material to online information about the
property. Whilst on the move, buyers can scan a property’s QR code on their phone, which then links them to a videoette of a home or they can save the agents details as a vCard contact.

Simon Bradbury, Partner of Fine & Country Cambridgeshire says that he has recognised the great potential for the
property industry. “Its popularity is of no surprise due to its phenomenal marketing capabilities and I believe it is
an ideal tool for buyers and vendors.

“Within a minute of a buyer taking a picture of a QR Code with their phone they are directed to a wealth of property information. The simultaneous voiceovers and animated vendor interviews in the clip mean that certain lifestyle aspects, that are often as important to buyers as the property spec, are highlighted.”

Peter Everett at Hamptons says that every one of their offices has the QR Codes on all the property details in their windows, a great way for passers-by to take the info away with them.

In London, WA Ellis are using QR Codes on boards and plan to develop their usage by linking the barcode to video, while others are literally, just starting to use them. In Bath, Madison Oakley are trialing them on some of their boards, Sewell & Gardner in Chorleywood report that they are using the QR Codes and ‘monitoring their popularity’, as are Real Estate in Hove and MarkNewton at Newton Fallowell, says they are launching QR on their
adverts “as we speak”!

And finally… another great advantage of this nifty new tool, is that the scans of a particular QR Code can be tracked, giving an agent even more information on the marketing success for that property. Let us know what you think – are they QR Quite Revolutionary or QR Quickly Redundant?