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Quick Response (QR) codes, Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, and barcodes are all data management systems used to transfer large amounts of information in a small format. Although they all provide the same overall function, there are varying differences between the three systems and the purposes for which they were designed.

Quick Response Codes

scan qr code

The Quick Response (QR) Code is the trademark for a type of two-dimensional barcode. They are composed of a series of black and white squares, and are typically scanned by a QR Code reader on a smartphone for users to access a particular URL or other information that it links to.

The most notable benefit of QR codes are their ease of use. They can be added to anything, be it a flyer, a poster, or a business card. They also have a range of uses, and can extend a user’s experience by rewarding them for scanning the code. For example, the code can give them access to a microsite with a special promotion on it. QR codes are designed to reward users beyond what they may ordinarily be able to find online or on social channels.

QR codes are useful for marketers who can gain valuable insight into user behavior and how their marketing efforts are working (or not). By using web analytics and unique codes, QR codes and their users are trackable, which can help businesses make better marketing decisions. Furthermore, they are cost-effective, and can help to keep marketing costs low.

Near Field Communication Tags

tap NFC tag with smartphone

Near Field Communication (NFC) tags, also known as smart tags, are a short-range wireless technology that allows information to be conveyed by simply touching two devices together. NFC fields are used in a number of applications, including the London Oyster transport card; embedding a smart tag into a flyer, which is tapped to reveal a website to the user with further information; and tap payments, which has gained much traction in recent years.

Smart tags tend to be easier and more convenient to use than QR codes, as they simply require a touch, rather than an app to scan a barcode and wait for an analysis. Furthermore, they offer more flexibility, and they can complete complex transactions quickly.

However, the ease of use and simplicity of NFC tags opens up the system to potential security issues and any use of the system requires security features to prevent eavesdropping devices from stealing data.


QR code

 A barcode is a ‘machine-readable code in the form of numbers and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths, printed on and identifying a product.’ They have been around for decades, and you likely have seen them on packaging in the supermarket, or on the labels of clothes in retails stores.

They are commonly used in shipping and to manage and track large amounts of items efficiently. They are widely used because to their versatility, their cost-effectiveness, and their assistance in driving speed and efficiency.

So Which One Is Best For My Business?

Despite all being designed to serve the same function - the transfer of data - the question as to which system to use is largely dependent on the needs of the business, circumstance, and budget.

Barcodes are good for managing large numbers of items in manufacturing industries, but they are limited in their ability to offer a user a good user experience.

NFC tags tend to be faster and easier to use, and despite the need to prevent eavesdropping devices from stealing data, they offer more secure transactions and options, which is why companies such as VISA use them for payments.

QR tags presently have a wider user-base as there are more phones that have the functionality to read QR codes than those that can read NFC tags. However, NFC tags are increasing in popularity, so the gap will narrow.

While the best asset management technology for your specific business may vary, the cost and ease of implementing data managements systems make any a good solution for day-to-day business operations.

For more information on all three types of data management systems visit: