While QR code-based menus have been in existence for more than 10 years they were slow to gain acceptance. However, their adoption has escalated through the pandemic. Restaurant operators have chosen to go digital to ensure customers’ health and safety as these touchless menus can help mitigate virus spread.
Diners have embraced this new technology. In Hospitality Technology’s 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study, it was found that 37% of diners prefer to dine at restaurants that do not have a paper/physical menu.
And, while some consumers still prefer a physical menu, you can print copies of your QR code menu for guests who don’t have a smartphone or for those who lack technical proficiency.
What is a QR code?
QR – short for Quick Response — code are a type of barcode image that can be scanned by a smartphone and store information. QR codes make it easy for smartphone users to visit a website, for example, without manually entering letters and numbers into their phones.
How do QR Codes Translate to Touchless Menus?
With a QR code menu, diners scan a QR code with a smartphone camera and access the online digital menu that is then displayed on a smartphone. Your menu then displays on the phone, allowing diners to browse food and drink options from the device without touching a paper menu. And, unlike app-based solutions, there’s no need for your guests to download menu apps. Once they scan your code, the touchless menu is visible immediately their devices.
While many restaurants offer touchless menus as a simple replacement for a paper menu, with orders made with a server at the table, some digital menu tools have added more advanced features such as pre-ordering before diners arrive at a restaurant, ordering through the digital menu, and payment processing.
Efficiency and Profitability Benefits of QR Code Menus
If your restaurant group has not yet adopted QR code menus, there are many reasons you might want to consider going digital. QR code menus can result in many efficiency, cost-saving and revenue-generating benefits for your restaurant group.
1. Increase Cost Efficiency and Reduce Environmental Effects
While disposable, single use menus gained popularity at the beginning of the pandemic, they’re not sustainable from a cost perspective or for the environment. QR code menus provide a viable alternative. Using QR code menus can provide significant savings over printing reusable or disposable menus and don’t add to landfills.
2. Improve Customer and Staff Safety
Printed menus pass through dozens of hands daily without being sanitized. With an increased interest in health and sanitation, many consumers, as well as staff members, feel safer not handling paper menus.
3. Improve the Customer Experience
A common guest complaint is that the wait time to order is too long. With QR code menus that offer ordering capabilities, guests can order as soon as they’re seated. Apps that also accept payments, creates even greater convenience for diners.
4. Streamline Operations
Use QR code restaurant menus to improve operations as well as the customer experience. Consider using a system that can change menus and/or menu sections at different day parts and on different days, so that your guests can easily access your breakfast, lunch, happy hour, or dinner menus.
5. Turn Tables Faster
More efficient service results in faster table turn times. QR code menus that include both an ordering system and bill pay capabilities reduces the idle time guests spend at the table waiting to order and waiting for the server to present the bill and then process the payment.
6. Easily Update Your Menu
QR code menus enable you to easily adjust pricing, change menu items, or add and remove dishes across multiple locations.
7. Create Last-minute Specials to Move Perishable Products
The ease of making changes to a QR code menu allows you to reduce food waste by adding specials to quickly sell inventory that’s approaching its expiration date.
8. Improve Ordering Accuracy
QR code menus can reduce wasted food because it minimizes ordering miscommunication and errors.
9. Obtain Detailed Analytics
Understand your customers’ ordering habits, including how and when they interact with your business, and which menu items are their favorites. Trackable data from your QR code menu includes the customer’s location, time scanned, and operating device, enabling you to combine your menu promotion with other marketing efforts.
10. Increase Revenue
QR code menus offer excellent upselling and cross-selling opportunities. For example, the menu can automatically suggest drink pairings, side dishes, appetizers, and more.
11. Use Fewer Staff Members
With the current labor shortage, all operators are looking for ways to create labor efficiencies. QR code menus can enable you to manage in-house dining with fewer servers. Some QSRs are eliminating phone and counter orders, instead requiring that orders be placed online or through the QR code menu
12. Improve Social Media Engagement
Some QR menus feature built-in social media integration and retargeting, enabling your restaurant group to take orders directly from social platforms, and retargeting guests.
QR code menu best practices
QR code menus offer advantages to restaurant operators, while providing an improved guest experience. Before creating your QR code menu, ensure that you set it up correctly using these best practices.
Focus on Creating a Mobile-friendly QR Code Menu Page
Your customers will view your QR code menu on their mobile devices, so create a mobile-friendly URL. Avoid linking to PDF documents. Instead use a responsive HTML menu for the best customer experience.
Brand Your QR Code Menu
Customize your menu design to reflect your branding. Also keep in mind that QR code scanners are designed to scan codes with contrasting colors, so use a background color that is lighter than the foreground color for best image quality.
Minimize Menu Page Load Times
An important part of the customer experience with QR code menus is load time, so ensure that your page loads quickly. If your menu features lots of pictures, you’ll want to use the smallest file size that will present a sharp photo on your page. Heavy-image menus with large file size images will slow your load time and provide a poor experience to your diners.
Test, Test, Test
Prior to launching your QR code menu, print your QR code and ensure that it redirects to your menu page. Print it several times and place them in different areas of your restaurant with varying lighting. Recruit your staff to help with testing as different smartphones may not provide the same experience.
A successful QR cost menu requires that guests can easily scan the code and access your menu, so test it thoroughly in various lighting conditions and on different devices and operating systems before you launch it.
How to promote your QR code menus
Once you launch your QR code menu, you must make guests aware of it, before they even make the decision to dine at or order food from your restaurant, and once they arrive at your restaurant.
Promoting your new QR code menu on social media should be an integral part of your launch strategy. Include it in your social posts announcing the menu, as well as your paid social media marketing.
You can use old fashioned promotional tools to advertise your QR code outside of your restaurant. While not recommended for fine dining establishments, QSRs could use flyers imprinted with their QR code near their locations so that customers can start their orders enroute during a short lunch break from work.
Similarly, if you’re in a high traffic location, you can place your QR code on a sandwich board outside your restaurant to encourage customers to check out your menu before deciding where to dine.
Here’s a list of some locations and methods to promote your QR code menu:Hostess station
Window facing outward
Loyalty cardsRestaurant walls
Google My Business profile
Your websiteOn-site TV screen
Reservation confirmation emails
Local weekly coupon books
Incorporating menu engineering into QR code menus
If you’re considering moving to a digital, touchless menu, it may be a good time to optimize your menu for profitability. Using menu engineering tools, you can maximize profitability by promoting your most profitable menu items and encouraging customers to buy what you want them to buy.
Menu engineering focuses on two main elements: demand and margin contribution. Sales mix polling combined with recipes integrates critical data about quantities sold compared to item margin. Menu engineering helps you determine whether menu items are overpriced or underpriced, whether you need to revise recipe portions or ingredients, and monitors menu performance. It allows you to make informed decisions about popularity versus profitability so you can use that information to influence menu design.
Beyond the look of your QR code menu, leveraging menu engineering informs the psychology behind how items are presented, priced, and ordered. Designing your restaurant QR code menu must consider factors such as placement of items on the menu, and whether or not to use dollar signs in menu pricing.
Your menu – physical or digital – is key to your restaurant group’s profitability. Providing your menu in the format that is preferred by your guests is integral to a positive guest experience. A hybrid model, in which you continue offering a physical menu for those guests who prefer it, while offering a contactless solution for everyone else, assures that you’re not alienating any of your guests.
Both physical and QR code menus can be improved with the use of menu engineering tools and reports to help increase revenue. If you would like to easily track data and gain insight into your restaurant data to increase efficiency and boost profits, consider a comprehensive, restaurant-specific management solution. Restaurant365 is an all-in-one restaurant management system incorporating menu engineering reporting tools with restaurant accounting software, restaurant operations software, inventory management software, payroll + HR software, and scheduling software in a cloud-based platform that’s fully integrated with your POS system, as well as to your food and beverage vendors, and bank.