How the Restaurant Industry is Using QR Codes to Support their Business During Coronavirus

How has the restaurant industry changed due to the coronavirus? For one thing, they’ve realized the need to become more digital. Keeping customers aware of the food services they continue to offer is a major factor for the entire industry’s survival. How can they do this in a safe and effective manner? That’s precisely where QR Codes have come to the rescue.

How has the restaurant industry been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

Of all the industries affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant industry has taken one of the hardest hits. Due to the government-mandated shutdowns, the industry is expected to lose 25 billion USD and counting. Millions of employees have lost their jobs and many smaller restaurants will likely need to permanently close their doors because they can’t maintain the financial losses. With no clear end in sight, sit down restaurants with no drive-thru or online ordering system have the toughest challenge of all. But if these restaurants are able to keep in touch with customers by promoting their online ordering and delivery systems, selling brand merch, and emphasizing catering services, that may just be the key factor for their survival.

Why do QR Codes make digital processes easier for the restaurant industry during the coronavirus pandemic?

In the wake of social distancing regulations, QR Codes have become a technology hero. Not only have they been widely used across China to help manage the healthcare system, but QR Codes have also enabled governments to set up country-wide cashless payment systems, and helped brands safely communicate with customers. So, the restaurant industry can use these handy features to their advantage as well.

Easy to use

A major driver behind QR Code’s increasing popularity is the fact that anyone with a smartphone can scan them. For newer models, this can be done automatically with the camera, and in any case, QR Codes are always readable with a third-party app. Because they also come with mobile-optimized content, QR Codes are the perfect partner for digital platforms with an emphasis on mobile, especially apps. So, the restaurant industry can use this fact to their advantage and promote their online ordering platforms in a safe and easy to access manner.

QR Code on a restaurant window to promote food delivery during the coronavirus lockdown
A QR Code connects passersby with a restaurant’s online ordering system during COVID-19 lockdown

Flexible types of QR Codes

QR Codes have come a long way from their simple black and white ancestors that only send users to websites (even though a Dynamic URL Code is still useful for that). In addition to full-scale customization options, you can also use QR Codes for a wide variety of situations. These include videos, images, app store links, social media profile links, coupons, events, and much more. You can use QR Codes on digital platforms due to their short URL, or you can use QR Codes on print platforms by simply scanning them. Either way, all of their content is easily accessible and has a wide variety of uses.

Safe for social distancing rules

Another reason QR Codes have been a top choice during the coronavirus pandemic is that they don’t have a minimum scan distance. Unlike NFC technology (what’s often used for so-called contactless payments) that has a scan radius of only 4 cm, QR Codes have no minimum scan distance, meaning they require absolutely zero physical contact to be scanned. As long as the QR Code is large enough and has high enough image quality, there is no limit to how far away someone can stand and scan a QR Code with their smartphone. This is precisely the reason why QR Codes are the much safer option for mobile payments as well.

QR Code payment is safer than NFC
QR Codes are the much safer choice for mobile payments as it’s 100% no-contact

Prepares for a digital future

We mentioned above that improving your online presence as a restaurant or food business can help immensely during the coronavirus—and this also extends far beyond this lockdown period. Online food delivery is expected to increase at an annual rate of 7%, and maybe more due to the coronavirus. Once you have something like an online ordering system set up, it’s an additional revenue stream for your restaurant that can be promoted with QR Codes. What may be a survival mechanism now is also an investment in digitalization that will continue to pay off in the future.

Examples of how the restaurant industry can use QR Codes to their advantage

Just how well do QR Codes complement the restaurant industry as a whole? There are many ways you can use them now to help with social distancing, and they will also enhance both print and digital marketing efforts after the pandemic is over.

Paperless and contactless menu

Research shows that coronavirus can survive on surfaces for 2-3 days. To avoid the possibility of cross-contamination, add a PDF QR Code on your menu so that customers can view your menu on their smartphones. Plus, you get the added benefit of saving from having to print seasonal menus or when you need to have an item removed or added. You can change your menu anytime you want without having to reprint again and again.

QR Code on a restaurant menu encourages a contactless experience
PDF QR Code on a restaurant menu encourages a contactless experience

Communicate with customers through social media

One restaurant in New York City began an initiative known as Table to Table as an extension of their restaurant, Kopitiam. Table to Table was originally intended to create food tours across small restaurants in Chinatown. They soon realized that they were actually essential for helping to keep these small businesses alive. With a negative bias attached to Chinese restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic, many small restaurants had nearly zero customers. Using mainly their Instagram account, Table to Table helped spread the word that Asian food is still safe to eat and promoted online ordering systems for local restaurants.

A QR Code on an Instagram post enables easy online ordering platform access

QR Codes are really useful for social media marketing among the restaurant industry, especially Instagram. Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links in their posts, and users have to visit a page’s bio instead to view a particular link. Often those two are disconnected and the potential purchase that would’ve happened gets lost in the mix. If you use a QR Code on an Instagram post, this solves this issue, because then the user can scan the QR Code and visit the page automatically. In this particular case, you could either use a Dynamic URL QR Code to direct users automatically to an ordering platform or use a Coupon QR Code to encourage purchases with digital coupons.

Take advantage of physical restaurant space

A QR Code on a display sign safely promotes a restaurant’s online ordering system

QR Codes are the single factor that connects print materials to digital platforms. So you can use all the physical restaurant space to promote online ordering systems. Use them on restaurant windows, display signs outside, posters, and table tents. If your menu is readable from your restaurant window, then put a QR Code on it that enables customers to automatically make purchases from a website or connect them to a food delivery app with an App Store QR Code. The easier you make it for customers to find your ordering system, the more they’re likely to make purchases.

Cashless payments on delivery

Another concern the restaurant industry faces is the fear of infections from food deliveries, but there is no evidence that the coronavirus is transmittable from food or water. To help curb this fear, restaurants can offer cashless payments. One easy way to enable this is with mobile payments via QR Code. When you develop an online ordering system, this process could be included so the customer can choose not to pay with cash.

Cashless payments via QR Code make paying for food deliveries safer

This method truly works and many restaurants are getting on board. To give local restaurants a helping hand, a company known as Lavu has even been helping restaurants in Albuquerque set up online ordering systems with QR Codes during the coronavirus.

Not accepting cash or credit cards? No worries!

If you’re a restaurant in Europe who wants to use QR Codes for cashless payments, you’ll want to take a look at the EPC QR Code. These QR Codes are connectable to customers’ digital wallets through Europe’s system of IBAN and BIC. EPC QR Codes use the SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area) scheme which intends to make euro bank transfers in Europe more efficient by reducing errors when manually making payments. So, when they’re combined with QR Code technology, that removes the manual process and automates everything with no chance of errors. Plus, you don’t have to set anything up. Simply create the QR Code for free using your existing bank account and you can use it in a matter of seconds!

Market brand merchandise

A QR Code is used on a restaurant table tent to promote brand merch

To create an additional revenue stream during the coronavirus, restaurants can promote their related brand merchandise as well. If restaurants get the word out that they’re struggling and you can support them by purchasing brand merch, customers will certainly take note of this and try to help. In the same manner used to display a QR Code for an online ordering system as described above, the same can also be done for any product landing pages.

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