QR Code menus are getting quite popular with more and more customers willing to scan a QR-based digital menu while visiting a restaurant or eatery. Even though digital menus have been around for a longer period, it was the coronavirus pandemic that caused a widespread use and acceptance of the same. During the 2-3 year long pandemic restaurant businesses suffered the most with people being under lockdowns, a total ban on going out at nights and dining in restaurants etc. Even food delivery and take out model suffered a lot. And when people started going out with lockdowns being lifted gradually, the risk of getting coronavirus by touching physical menus that someone else might have touched before you, persisted.
There was also a change in customer expectation as people didn’t want to get coronavirus and insisted on more safety and cleanliness inside restaurants and diners. Digital menus based on QR code offered a change that consumers needed. People could just take out their smartphone and scan a QR code to access the digital menu and order what they liked. Even digital payment option was also there. So people didn’t need to hand out their debit card or accept change in the form of physical bank notes or coins.
Now pandemic is over but QR Code-based menus have stuck.
What is a QR Code?
A QR code, short for quick response code, is a two-dimensional type of barcode that can be read by an imaging device such as a smartphone camera and processed using Reed–Solomon error correction. This ensures that QR code is read even when there is a slight tear or environmental damages. With dedicated focus and alignment zones, the QR codes are easy to scan and very responsive.
A QR code is made of black dots and squares arranged on square white background. QR codes are scannable using smartphones devices, which are natively developed to scan/detect QR codes. In fact, it was Apple Inc. that integrated QR code scanning ability in its iPhone line up in 2017 and other Smartphone manufacturers followed suit.
What makes QR code better and versatile over traditional barcodes is that it can store more data, horizontally and vertically (2D) and the data could be text, SMS, phone numbers, address, URL, emails, business card, resume, PDF, image, etc.
QR Codes in Restaurants
As I mentioned above, QR Code usage was amplified by long pandemic as an alternative to physical menus and cash bill payments or payments using cards. The adoption and acceptance of QR Code based digital menus was escalated by the pandemic as restaurant owners focused on prioritizing customer’s health and safety and tried to draw in customers as coronavirus put the diners at great disadvantage.
Restaurants not only use QR Code for digital menus that offered contactless service from order to bill payments and feedback, they also now use QR codes for advertising and marketing as well. They create targeted ad campaigns that are based on QR codes and send that to customers through emails, or brochures or social media platforms.
Even in print media like newspapers, many restaurants now publish a single QR code which takes little space, saves advertising money and takes the customers to a detailed advertisement or a webpage through a URL.
The Benefits of QR Codes for Contactless Menus in Restaurants
QR codes have become increasingly popular in restaurants due to their contactless nature and numerous benefits.
Here are some of the benefits of using QR codes in contactless menus:
1. Eliminates the need for physical menus
QR codes based digital menus can eliminate the need for digital menus. But some customers still prefer printed menus now that pandemic is nowhere in sight. Keeping that in mind, some restaurants are using a mix of both physical and digital menus just not to alienate some of their consumers.
2. Reduces wait times
QR contactless menus also reduce the wait time as customers can directly order without having to wait for a waiter to help them order or take their orders.
3. Increases efficiency
It also increases the efficiency of restaurant staffs as they can now focus more on customers and delivering their order on the table. They don’t have to worry about what anyone wants to order or which table one has to present a physical bill.
4. Improves table turnover
It improves table turnover as people are getting better service now. Restaurant can serve more people efficiently.
5. Prevents sharing of menu between customers
QR codes based digital menus are readily available on each table which customers can easily scan using their smartphones. This prevents sharing of physical menus between customers and enhances safety, service, and customer experience.
6. Reduces staff and customer interaction
Since people can order themselves, they don’t have to call a waiter. This I like the most. I can just go to a restaurant and not have to talk to a staff member at all. Just order, enjoy the meal, pay and get out.
From safety point of view, it was very helpful during covid19 and it is still very helpful.
7. Allows for easy updating and changing of menus
QR contactless menus can also be altered at will. Restaurants can update their specials and add or remove new items in their menus, change prices across locations with ease. It wasn’t simply possible with physical menus.
QR codes have been in use for a long time as it was invented in 1994 but the use was limited. Post pandemic we have seen a significant use of QR Codes in digital payments, QR code based menus and item identification and tracking. Various QR code ads have also been popular. As a contactless medium of sharing information which could be menus, advertisement, and other info, QR codes have truly been a remarkable invention and quite advantageous.