Now that OnTheList has opened payment by Alipay and will soon allow WechatPay it is a good time to take a break from fashion and think about a tool that we regularly use to shop.

We may use the term “QR code” on a daily basis, to download apps, to pay or get paid, but do we know what QR means anyway? The abbreviation of “Quick Response Code” became part of our vocabulary but is only 24 years old. QR Codes were originally designed to help manufacture and simplify the tracking of vehicles, but it has come a long way since then. Barcodes appeared in 1952, but started to be used in mass in the 1980’s. Nowadays, lots of products are embedded with barcodes, and it is way more common to encounter a barcode than a QR code, to the extent that we don’t even notice it anymore. However, the use of QR codes is often linked to more complex concepts. The reason is that a barcode can only contain maximum 13 characters. A QR Code can stock up to 7089 numeric characters.

You might never have noticed it but around every QR Codes there is a white edge that actually has a name: the quiet zone. Without this area, the code could mix up with other information from its context.

As QR Codes became part of everyday marketing, it was necessary to find a way to differentiate it, to make it part of the brand. Thanks to an error-correction algorithm, they can every so often contain small illustration to differentiate it from the others. Depending on the error correction capability, some QR Codes can even be decodable even with 30% of cryptograph hidden or damaged.

From now on, you know the basics of this very useful shopping tool so you can brag about it during any upcoming social gathering. Don’t hesitate to download the app using the QR code and see you in store!

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