History of QR Codes

QR Codes are scannable images consisting of black squares or dots. You will often see them combined with instructions to “scan this code” which directs you to a specific webpage, app, or coupon. While the history of QR codes dates back to 1994, their popularity started increasing in 2012 worldwide, then soared in 2017

For some time, the use of QR codes was on the decline, and in 2012, INC magazine even predicted them to be the next dinosaur and would become extinct. So what changed? The combination of many factors brought QR codes back into popularity:

  • Increased smartphone use 
  • Accessible broadband mobile internet 
  • Smartphones allowing for QR code scanning without using a third-party app
  • A huge push from Snapchat 

Until 2017, smartphones (usually) required a third-party app to scan QR codes. When these brands began to build QR capabilities directly into their hardware, the technology significantly improved and more users began to embrace it.

At the same time, Snapchat was one of the fastest-growing mobile apps on the market. Snapchat introduced its own QR codes called Snapcodes, enabling users to add friends, unblock filters, and open websites. Snapcodes were scanned 8 million times per day in 2017. The significant growth and increased usage of QR codes can be tied directly to Snapchat’s push for Snapcodes. In 2020, 11 million households scanned a QR code, and data shows QR code popularity has only continued to grow.

QR Codes: How Steampunk Express Car Wash Put Them to Work! 

Hamilton worked with SteamPunk Express Car Wash to create a custom-branded mobile app integrated with Hosted Solutions; Hamilton’s cloud-based platform. This platform empowers site operators to see their business data in real-time, access their customer database, create wash and loyalty club programs, and manage their mobile app.

In January 2022, Hamilton’s marketing department provided Steampunk with a dynamic QR code that directs to their mobile app in the store. In only four months, this QR code has been scanned more than any other one we’ve created. Out of curiosity we reached out to Jeromy, owner of SteamPunk Car Express Car Wash to see how he was able to get so many QR scans. Here’s what we found out.

Steampunk took the QR code Hamilton created and ran with it! Jeromy, printed the QR code on business cards. With a 2-lane tunnel car wash, he had an employee available at one lane for customers that wanted more assistance. This allowed that employee to personally hand out the business cards to customers.

The business card encouraged new customers to download and register on the Steampunk Express Car Wash app, in which they could claim a free wash. Jeromy eventually updated the promotion to 50% off his most expensive wash.

Scroll the image above to see the other side of the card!

The QR code Hamilton created for SteamPunk is dynamic and trackable. We can help SteamPunk monitor code usage, track trends. In analyzing the data we were able to see a huge spike on the date of a soft grand opening, when SteamPunk encouraged app memberships by raffling off membership packages for 1 year, 6-months and 3-months of free car washes.

When a customer scans the QR code with their phone, it directs them to download Steampunk’s mobile app (developed by Hamilton of course!). The code will open up the correct app store depending on the user’s device. Every customer wanting to take advantage of the promotion (free or 50% off wash) will need to set up an account.

On why Hosted Solutions and the app works for SteamPunk car wash, site owner, Jeromy, said “It used to be that to run a successful car wash you just had to be a good operator. Now, things are much more competitive and marketing plays a bigger role than necessarily how good of an operator you are…The app and hosted solutions allow operators like me to leverage marketing.” 


When you purchase a Custom Mobile App with Hamilton, we can help you utilize QR codes for your own business! Please contact us for more details.