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O'Brien: The future of shopping local

Community voice

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 1:31 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided.)
Kerry O’Brien

One of the many reasons I enjoy my work at the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce so much is that I am constantly delighted by what business people create and accomplish when they collaborate.

Recent examples that quickly come to mind are the young entrepreneur expo, the community mural, the Stuff-A-Truck food drive and the Miracle on Hale Street effort to revitalize the Wheaton Grand Theater.

The latest collaboration that has me fascinated is a cutting edge program developed by Wheaton professionals, which brings local businesses and their customers together, in-person, through the use of QR codes. It has been dubbed Live QR™ by its creators, but you will recognize it displayed in Wheaton chamber businesses as the black and white checkered square with the Wheaton chamber logo in the center.

You might be wondering what a QR code actually is or does. While barcodes have become commonplace for shoppers, QR codes are newer on the scene. Like the familiar black and white stripes of a bar code, the square QR codes contain information – a lot more information.

Smart phones are able to read QR codes with the use of a QR reader. If your smart phone doesn’t have one yet, it’s easy to download a decent one for free at the iTunes store. Usually a QR code will take you to a website more easily than typing in a long website address on your phone or tablet.

The LiveQR™ codes displayed by Wheaton chamber members are a great deal more fun. When you scan a merchant’s LiveQR™ code with your QR reader, you will be presented with a special offer or discount.

All you need to do is present the offer on the screen of your device at the time of purchase and the merchant will redeem your hyperlocal deal. That’s it! No coupons to clip, no research ahead of time. Nothing to do except “scan and save” while shopping locally.

The fun for shoppers doesn’t stop there. The LiveQR™ site will allow you to see what all other Wheaton chamber members are offering, too. Shoppers can even ask to be notified whenever their favorite shops, restaurants and services change their offers.

I cannot wait to see what other innovative ideas our business owners come up with to utilize this nifty new method of staying in touch with their customers.

A high-tech, hometown shopping adventure in Wheaton? Holiday shopping just became even better!

Kerry O'Brien is the executive director of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce

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