QR Code (for Quick Response) also called a 2-D barcode. An easy analogy is the UPC bar code that has existed for decades. But a UPC is essentially a machine-readable number which needs to be looked up in a database to figure out what it is. QR Codes on the other hand have actual data – words – embedded in them that can be used to represent anything – a description of the product, a URL for the website.
What it means for consumers
Over the years, we’ve moved from simpler expressions of online identity – “www.pets.com” – to more complex “www.mypetstore.biz/fish/special-offer” that are harder to digest and re-type into a browser. For online experiences, this has spawned an industry of URL shorteners such as Bit.ly that tamp it down into a smaller URL such as “bit.ly/dhgdh4j” but this doesn’t help when you’re trying to retype what you saw in a store window into a browser.