QR Codes: Add Value to Your Print Collateral

May 5, 2011

Last month, over on Ryan McAbee’s super-informative M-bossed blog, he posted an article entitled 10 Ways to Use QR Codes beyond Advertising. Ryan suggests in the article that if QR Codes are to be embraced by consumers, we as print media and marketing service providers are obliged to demonstrate practical uses for them—beyond just those applications used for advertising and promotions.

QR code invoice
Earlier this year we were thinking the same thing. How could we use QR Codes within our facility such that our customers could begin to grasp the many benefits they can provide? We began to draw on some ideas from a similar range of applications that QR Codes were originally intended for when initially developed in Japan in the mid-nineties.

Whereas the Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave initially used QR Codes, a type of 2D barcode, for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, we thought we could do something similar by using them to graphically identify the line items on a customer’s print invoice. The process used to place the QR Code onto the invoice was surprisingly easy to automate using our existing print MIS software, prepress workflow software and the freely available PHP QR Code Open Source library at SourceForge.

Our Process, and how we went about it:

  • First, we built a process within our prepress workflow that rasterized the customer’s digital file into a web-friendly JPEG-compressed 72dpi PDF file. In addition, the file was copied to an image directory residing on our web server. This was programmed to occur at the same time that either printing plates were imaged or the file was queued to a digital printer. We had now created the low-res proxy image that a customer would view when scanning the QR Code printed on their invoice.
  • Next, our programmer wrote a script to execute when a job was initiated within our print MIS system that rendered a QR Code as an 8-bit PNG image file using the PHP QR Code library and inserted it as a record item associated with that job within the MIS database. The QR Code contained the encoded URL of the path to the job’s PDF file that resided on our web server. Thus we now had the capability of placing the record’s QR Code onto any report tied to a particular job—invoices, job tickets, shipping labels, inventory pieces, etc.

When the QR Code on an invoice or label is scanned on a smartphone, the scanning software parses the barcode and directs the user to a webpage where an image of the job is displayed within the window of a mobile web browser. This permits easy visual identification of what it was that was printed or packaged.

In the two months since we’ve deployed this new service, the feedback from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive, especially for those print buyers that remit invoices to a separate accounts receivable department. By demonstrating how the addition of a QR Code to a company’s print collateral can greatly enhance the medium’s usefulness, we hope to offer our customers similar capabilities so that they may benefit as well.

Would you like to be able to scan and identify images of your print project from your printer’s invoices or shipping labels? Has your company considered using QR Codes on any of your print collateral yet?

Find more like this: Emerging Technologies, Featured, QR Codes

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Ryan McAbee
May 17, 2011
12:57 am

u00a0Thank you for the hat tip and for reading M-bossed.com!u00a0nnI must applaud your use of QR to provide utility over advertising fluff. If you can provide this type of QR use internally for your customers, I am sure you would be able to provide real value in their own printed materials.nn- Ryan