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2D barcodes the next revolution Peter Lewis Marketing Director at Episys explains

Barcodes just got exciting again. As, Peter Lewis, Marketing Director at Episys explains, the next technical revolution is here – the 2 Dimensional Barcode.

The 2D barcode itself is not new; it has been widely used in Japan since 1994 where it was created by Denso-Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota for tracking car parts. It is the new way of using the barcodes and the adoption by the communication industries at large that is opening up innovative and exciting channels to market.

2D barcodes enable far more information to be stored, allowing businesses to be information rich in an age where information is crucial to understanding and reaching out to customers more effectively. Barcodes are ideal for marketers. They can be used for offers and promotions allowing you to reach out to customers in new ways. The retail industry can lead the way in this field because of the competitive nature of the industry and organisations are continually looking at new ways to foster customer loyalty.

Smartphones with 2D presents a whole host of opportunities for businesses. Android phones are capable of scanning 2D barcodes and businesses can even create their own barcode. The software has been available as a free iPhone app since 2009 and is now available for Android. For instance, a retailer can send a 2D bar code to a customer enabling them to get money off a product as soon as they go in store. With more people buying Smartphones, the cost of devices will fall, which in turn will make the technology more accessible.

With more people using 2D barcode technology in everyday life and becoming more commonplace in retail the opportunities are endless. For example, L.A. Candy, a book by Lauren Conrad, the star of MTV’s show The Hill, has a 2D barcode on it that takes you to video and other content about the book. The publishers of Superfreakonomics have also done something similar.

And this is just the beginning – imagine standing in line to see a film, holding a ticket that has a 2D barcode on it that you scan with your phone and instantly seeing background information on how the movie was made or a cross-promotion for the book upon which the movie is based. It could also have a role to play in restaurants where each item on a menu has a 2D barcode linked to nutritional information or other facts about the dish you might choose to eat. Elsewhere, imagine tagging an entire city with the history, pictures and videos based on barcodes strategically placed around the city – now every phone can become an access device for information indexed to the place.

The list of opportunities is endless and is only limited by the imagination. This is because a 2D barcode is a graphical image that reads both vertically and horizontally and can store over 7,000 characters, including, URLs, images and graphics as opposed to the uni-dimensional barcode that can only store 20.

There are businesses already exploring the possibilities. For example, Nike used 2D barcodes on posters along the route of an extreme sports competition. Mobile users captured barcodes to access sponsored pictures, video streams, facebook, blogs and product reviews. Fashion retailers are using them on the clothes themselves, as well as using them in films on product placements and in glossy magazines.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s are also using it on store displays and external advertising. For example, Tesco use an embedded hyperlink to a web page. A smartphone can be used to read the barcode and browse the linked website. This will play an important role in reaching out to customers directly – both building existing and new relationships.

The continued growth of social media shows a new way of developing customer interaction in what is very much a communications age and barcodes will have a substantial role to play. Social media provides the opportunity to reach out to a wide spectrum of customers, while barcodes are simple to use and ubiquitous. The rapid spread will only increase in the future as more people speak about them, start to use them and incorporate them into their everyday lives.

The application and usage of this technology is revolutionary, and businesses must take part and get involved in this innovative drive, offering their customers up-to-the-minute solutions and allowing them to keep their finger on the pulse of change. 2D barcodes are being used to inform, enhance experience and foster customer loyalty all things that businesses cannot afford to miss out on.

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