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Using QR codes with plants and mobile devices

What a great idea, those labels are always too small to put everything on that you would like, so why not make the label huge by connecting to Internet via a QR code, right!

Besides great marketing and cross-selling opportunities for the nursery it could have great advantages for the customer too:

  • What does it look like in bloom.
  • How big does it get.
  • What fertilizer should be used and when.
  • How and when to prune it.
  • What other plants go well with this one.
  • What ailments can it get, howto detect and prevent

This can be enhanced on line with videos and the ability to see different variations with the opportunity to order on line. By tracking and tracing where and when the QR codes are scanned the nursery can determine where the plants are now located and he frequency of scans can indicate the need for more relevant information. QR codes that were used some time ago will indicate that clients are saving the label and using for reference at a later stage.

Now this idea did not just pop out of my head. I have been thinking about it for some time, and since I don't know any nurseries in the area I let it go. And then suddenly for the first time I actually came across a QR used by a nursery for some potted bulbs in a local supermarket.

Potplant QR Code

Not impressed with the icons of 'do not eat' and something that looks like 'don't flush down toilet' I was hoping the QR code would be of more assistance and that it would maybe show me what these bulbs look like when they are in bloom etc


QR code scan result

QR Codes are for handheld and mobile devices

Behind this QR code is a website page designed for large format flat panel wide angle vision TV's, and not for iPnones, iPads, smart phones and heaven forbid, mobile phones. And yes I love to test with the bottom of the line because that is what counts. Just look at the scrollbars!! The site is not usable from a mobile phone at all.

Either there is no understanding of how QR codes should and could be used for their clients benefit, or whoever advised them was in it for a quick buck.


Using the Webcam QR code Reader set to 'mobile mode', this what it really looks like

Whatever the reasons were to do something like this with QR codes on this website, it does neither the nursery nor the people scanning the code any good. Implementations like this are one of the reasons QR codes may never be a success. Too many 'irritating' scans like this will be enough for consumers to turn their backs on QR codes. This is an example of how great open technology can be (accidentally) misused to the demise of everyone concerned.

I admire the initiative to use QR codes, but the implementation is incorrect and if this was a marketing campaign it is guaranteed to fail miserably.

 QR code tips for nurseries

  • There are many good databases on this planets flora. If you don't have one yourself, use them.
  • Create QR codes for the plants, not for your corporate billboard website homepage.
  • Give the scanner a (branded) value added and engaging experience when scanning the code (about the plant, not you!).
  • Interact with the scanner, provide a plant specific FAQ, get feedback, offer extra services/products/support.
  • Always provide a value added service for clients that offers more than the 'label' the QR code is printed on.
  • DO NOT send clients to your standard homepage via the QR code (else just print the URL on the label, it will save space! ) as that is NOT what QR codes are supposed to be used for, specifically if your standard website does not know how to deal with mobile devices.
  • Keep QR code web pages 'to the point', effective, efficient and simple. (In some countries you still pay per Mbyte you transfer or for 'airtime').

Should you have questions, comments or suggestions about this article, please contact us for advice on QR code implementation or our range of possibilities and options for creating and using effective and efficient QR codes in your organization..


Posted by: jeroen Steeman
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