Now This Is How QR Codes Should Be Used . . . Sort Of

By | February 17, 2012

I don’t mean to keep writing about QR Codes. It’s just that there are so many great things to write about. I’m finally happy to report on something really positive (and useful in more ways than one). The Girls Scouts really got it right this time . . . mostly.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Girl Scout cookie season. I happen to have a Girl Scout, so we’re full up on cookies, but there are millions of people who aren’t. They need to be.

If you haven’t already ordered your Girl Scout cookies, you can buy them at one of the thousands of booths around the country, but where is the booth nearest you?

Enter the mobile app for locating Girl Scout cookies. Girl Scouts of America is promoting a QR Code that takes you to a mobile app for locating the closest Girl Scout cookie booth at the time you are hungry for them.  There are two codes—one for iPhone and one for Android, along with instructions for downloading a reader for the codes.

Great idea!  Use the mobile code to download an app for your phone for something you want. It’s particularly useful because the booths move around and are open different days at different places and different times. Especially if you’re a Girl Scout leader or mom, the ability to direct people to local booths is helpful. If someone asks where to get cookies, you can tell them.

Couple of nits with the program, though.

First, I was annoyed by the need to download an app. Why do I need to go the extra step of downloading and installing an app for this? It would be much more user-friendly to simply be directed to a mobile site where I could get the same information. It saves a step and doesn’t clog up my screen with an app I’ll only use once a year.

Second, the QR codes are incredibly crowded, increasing the chance of scanning error. Just look at the URL to which users of the iPhone code are taken:

The QR Code looks like this.

It’s a wonder anyone can scan that.

Or the Girl Scouts could have shortened the URL with something like bitly. It would have looked like this:

Much easier to scan. Plus, they would have the ability to track access to the code for free.

Still, the Girl Scouts have the idea right. Implementation is a little off, but I could scan the code and the ultimate end use is genuinely helpful.

As an industry, we’re getting there.


Share this post


5 thoughts on “Now This Is How QR Codes Should Be Used . . . Sort Of

  1. Shirley A Burns

    Certainly the girl scouts are a mature enough organization that they can afford their own shortened domain (e.g., for use when shortening urls, which would improve their codes.

    Also, they could try to have fun with it, e.g. this quick one I worked up from your example:

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    That’s great, Shirley! I love it! I totally agree. My point about .bitly really was for others in the industry who don’t have the deep pockets of GSPA. Certainly GSPA could have done that (and probably should).

  3. Shirley A Burns

    Oh yeah, I’m all about the bitly, didn’t mean to ‘dis’ it… I use it all the time for our own marketing and for our customers! Fantastic tools, analytics, & support, and when you grow out of those, you can always upgrade to additional capabilities (like the custom domain).

  4. Rahul Gupta

    QR codes are the same as Semacodes..? I have read about Semacodes that does similar things. Find a semacode inside a Nokia Battery if you have one (I have one on my BL-5C Battery)

  5. Stephen Eugene Adams

    Heidi, you have hit on a pet peeve of mine. I see too many crowded QR codes out there and you know they probably are not tracking the hits that the code is actually getting. It should be a rule that all QR codes are created using a URL shortener. We need to get the word out. I think some of the generater tools already automatically create a shortener prior to generating the code.

Comments are closed.