The world has changed by leaps and bounds over the last two years. Every facet of our daily lives has been altered by a sweeping, global pandemic coupled with increasing socio-political tensions. Everything from the way that we work to the way that we consume media and entertainment has been affected. That includes our dining habits. Fortunately, rapid advances in technology have helped us blaze a trail through the turmoil.
Today, we're going to focus on one particular form of emergent tech: the QR code menu. We'll discuss the factors that have contributed to one of the restaurant industry's most profound operational shifts and key metrics associated with QR code adoption, as well as discussing the benefits of setting up QR code menus.
The Benefits to Setting up QR Code Menus: Why Now?
In August of 2021, CNBC ran an article highlighting the sudden surge in QR code use across the restaurant and hospitality industries. In the article, they detailed both the power and the versatility of QR codes in general, as well as the benefits to setting up QR code menus for your own venue.
According to the headline, QR codes are more than just a passing trend; they're here to stay. But why now? To understand the benefits in setting up a QR code menu yourself we must look to the past.
QR codes are far from new technology. QR codes, or "Quick response codes" are a type of square barcode that stores large amounts of information directly in their pixels. Their roots can be traced all the way back to 1994 when an engineer working for a subsidiary of Toyota first developed them in order to keep better tabs on production inventory.
It wasn't until the late 2000s that QR codes hit the mainstream, after Apple built QR code scanning capabilities into its iPhone camera–with no app download required. Fast forward a few years, as the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an era of increased social distancing with a focus on good hygiene practices, QR code menus became more than just beneficial; they became a necessity.
According to the same CNBC article referenced above, QR code utilization amongst restauranteers rose a staggering 750% during the pandemic. On top of that, 2020 marked the first year that QR code menu ordering made a significant impact on industry volume. One percent of all transactions nationwide were attributable to QR code menu ordering. That's significant given the sheer size of the industry.
Harnessing the Benefits of Setting up QR Code Menus
QR code menus have become increasingly ubiquitous since the pandemic began. If it seems like all your competitors are implementing them, you're probably right.
The simple fact of the matter is QR code menus drive business, especially given the current global climate. Their digital, mobile, and visual nature are exactly what customers want and expect. The best part? One of the chief benefits of setting up QR code menus is that they are one-size-fits-all, with a little tailoring of course. QR code menus are an ideal solution no matter the size of your business. They are perfect for:
- Small restaurants and cafes
- Large chains
- Entertainment venues with integrated food service
- Large-scale stadiums
QR code menus are so adaptable (and powerful) because they offer far more than just the menu itself. A QR code menu can be configured to accept customer orders, split or otherwise manage customer bills, and facilitate multi-vendor ordering, where applicable.
QR Code Adoption By The Numbers
So how do we know that the benefits of setting up QR code menus are really benefits? There's an old saying: the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. We already know that QR code adoption, in general, has increased exponentially over the last decade, in many cases completely replacing physical menus. In addition, the data shows that QR code usage is dramatically increasing not just in the food and beverage industry but in many industries, no doubt accelerated by the Covid pandemic.
A List of Benefits to Setting up QR Code Menus
So far we've explored the history of QR codes, the social context in which they've evolved, and some metrics proving that QR code usage is more than just a trend. Let's turn our sights towards the benefits of setting up QR code menus for your establishment.
They increase transaction speed
We'll talk a lot about the customer experience in the following subsections, and for good reason. QR codes and the customer experience, go hand-in-hand. For example, they serve to greatly increase the speed of ordering, payment, and other transactions.
Think about the typical customer's restaurant experience. They come for food, drink, and socialization. Those are the high points of the experience. Waiting for the server to check to take their order or settle their bill is arguably the low point, however. QR code menus serve to reduce —and eliminate— wasted time.
They encourage better hygiene practices
If there's any upside to the pandemic, it's that society has collectively renewed its focus on safe hygiene practices. At its heart, that's what contactless ordering is all about: reducing the spread of infectious germs while promoting public safety.
Menus driven by QR code help to protect both patrons in your establishment as well as your waitstaff. Using nothing more than a cellphone or other mobile device, your customers can order food, manage their checks in the event of a large party, and checkout, all while adhering to social distancing norms.
They provide customers with dynamic menus
Change is the only constant in the world. Menus change too. In the past, even a simple menu change required a new (and expensive) printing run, stifling the creativity of your culinary staff while creating a stagnant business environment. QR code menus provide the ideal fix.
Menus via QR code are quick and easy to update, with little to no cost attached. You can update your menu offerings as you see fit. Out of stock on a popular item? Simply remove it from your digital menu to avoid negative customer friction.
They reduce order errors
Too many cooks spoil the broth. In other words, the more people involved in the ordering process, the more likely it is that someone will make a mistake. Mistakes, in turn, impact your business's prosperity.
By ordering through a QR code menu, responsibility for order accuracy shifts onto the customer. They are in direct control of their order, thus reducing the potential margin of error.
They integrate seamlessly with POS and CRM systems
A well-built QR code menu does not exist in a vacuum. One of the best benefits of setting up QR code menus for your restaurant is their ability to integrate with your existing point-of-sale (POS) and customer relationship manager (CRM) systems.
Integration with your POS system provides customers with a wide range of functions. Not only can they order their food, but they can also manage the check. If a table wants to split the bill, integrated QR codes make the process especially easy without tying up members of the waitstaff.
At a larger venue, such as a stadium where there are multiple vendors, QR codes integrated with the POS system can even enable customers to build orders from multiple vendors all on the same transaction.
QR codes aren't solely transactional. Every time a customer scans your code, you receive valuable information in return. When you integrate your digital menu with your CRM, that data feeds directly into your system, giving you actionable metrics that can help you drive sales.
From demographic information to consumer spending habits, QR codes provide a wealth of data. In turn, you can use that data to create new offers, such as loyalty or reward programs, driving business directly in your door.
The Benefits of Setting up QR Code Menus: Final Thoughts
Thanks to shifting social norms brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes have become common tools in the restaurant industry. Everyone from mom-and-pop small businesses to large-scale venues can easily implement interactive QR code menus into their customer experience. The benefit in doing so is worth the (small) price of admission.
Implementing QR code menus in your venue will help keep customers safe and healthy through contactless ordering. Beyond that, they provide customers with a superior in-house experience via dynamic menus, faster transactions, and fewer order errors. Your business will also reap the rewards of QR menu integration. From advanced analytics to an overall reduction in cost and manpower, QR codes just make sense.