Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cracking the #QR Code -

Vanda Asapahu was living in Bangkok working in public health with the United Nations until two years ago. That’s when her parents back in Los Angeles told her they were planning to retire from the Thai restaurant they had been running for six years and asked her to come home to take over the business with her brother.

She obliged and soon found herself strategizing with her brother about how to build the business. Not that the restaurant wasn’t modestly successful. Though Ayara Thai Cuisine is tucked away in an unglamorous neighborhood by the airport, it had built a good word-of-mouth reputation among foodies. And now its good reviews on Yelp were increasingly bringing in an additional stream of younger, tech-savvy customers. But could the younger Asapahus do something to leverage that trend and take the business to the next level?

Often the code rewarded the phone’s owner with news of a special dish or a drink unavailable to other customers or a coupon for a freebie or a discount or a riddle that if solved would lead to a reward. “Sometimes the codes in one club led you to another club, so it was kind of like a scavenger-hunt version of a bar crawl,” Ms. Asapahu said. Such Q.R.-guided nights on the town aren’t common here, but why not have Ayara Thai take a first step in that direction?

Ms. Asapahu’s parents weren’t impressed, expressing doubt that the codes would bring in money. But Ms. Asapahu pointed out that it wouldn’t cost much, either. There are plenty of Web sites that generate Q.R. codes for free, and once you have your code you can print and post it anywhere. But when Ms. Asapahu checked out Ayara Thai’s Web site on her cellphone, she realized it was hard to read on the small screen and that nothing compelling jumped out. So, for an annual fee of about $300, she signed up with Paperlinks, a Q.R.-code oriented online service that provides a simple tool for creating a cellphone-optimized Web page that can be set up easily and updated constantly with promotions and information. (A stripped-down version of the service is available for free.) (Read More)

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