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How to use QR Codes

3 min read

QR codes have become a feature of our lives in a world of contactless ordering , but what are QR codes used for, and how can you use them to enhance your customer experience? To find out, get in line for our whistle-stop tour of QR code scanners.

What is a QR code?

QR codes are the black and white barcodes that businesses, such as restaurants, display on tables, ordering kiosks and anywhere a customer may place an order or access information at their premises. The technology was invented in 1994 as a way of tracking product inventories, and since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic , the use of QR codes among businesses has increased dramatically. A Statista survey from September 2020 found that almost half (44%) of UK consumers would use a QR code for payment in a restaurant or bar.

What does QR code stand for?

The ‘QR’ in QR code is short for ‘Quick Response’. Remember that and you’ll be a quiz champion in no time.

What are QR codes used for?

QR codes store data which can be scanned by a device – such as a smartphone – and translate into readable information. This can be anything from displaying product information, or a welcome message at an event, to more complex journeys such as directing you to a webpage, app or payment gateway. You can find that unmistakeable black and white barcode in a range of locations, such as:

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Supermarkets and grocery stores
  • Healthcare settings, dentists and pharmacies
  • Hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Conferences and events
  • Promotional activity, such as business cards and billboards .

How do you scan a QR code?

If you have a smartphone, tablet, or any device with an in-built QR code reader, we’re happy to report that scanning a QR code is very simple. Here’s how you can scan a QR code in three easy steps:

  1. Open your device’s QR code reader. On many smartphones, this simply means opening your camera app.
  2. Aim your device’s camera so that the QR code appears in your camera’s viewfinder. The device will either scan the code automatically, or you may need to press a button in order to read the code.
  3. Wait a few seconds, tap the notification and find the information you’re looking for!

How do I get a QR code for my business?

First, you’ll need to find a QR code generator. There are numerous options out there on the web, including these QR generators from the likes of Beaconstac, Scanova and Shopify (although a number of other generators are out there).

While features may differ depending on which QR code generator you opt for, you may be able to customise the information you wish to display, such as a restaurant menu PDF, your company logo, and the text you want customers to read.

You can then choose the size of your QR code, click ‘generate’, then simply save it as a file on your computer or chosen device. You can then use the QR code wherever you think you customers will locate it – on a business card, table, ordering kiosk, website or poster, for example.

More technology guides from Tyl

Technology can make our lives easier in so many ways, both as business owners and as customers. We’re always keen to stay on top of the latest tech trends, so take a look at our guides over at Tyl Talks.


This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.

Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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