The food service and catering industry is beginning to realize the potential of digital menus. Restaurants, food trucks, smoothie bars, and cafes are replacing their menus with QR Codes to provide a safer and contactless way for customers to view them, order food and pay directly on their smartphones.

The Benefits of applying QR Codes on Menus

QR Codes give you an easy and accessible solution for customers to maintain social distancing while enjoying their dining experience. But beyond this, QR Codes are the next step food services need in order to keep up with digital marketing trends and remain relevant in a world that favors faster and more efficient ordering and payment options.

The impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry

In March, most businesses across the world hit the pause button. Empty streets, closed restaurants, and a quiet club scene. All of this in a powerful, unanimous effort to disrupt the spread of COVID-19.

But social distancing did not translate into complete disconnection. In fact, people ended up increasing participatory culture and connecting with each other more, either through social media challenges, Zoom meetings, group calls, or sharing in the sourdough baking experience.

During this time, restaurants relied on food delivery and takeaways in order to continue generating income while their doors were closed. Several bars in Berlin survived the COVID-19 lockdown by offering cocktails and beers to go. They significantly shifted from printed menus to digital menus and online ordering.

So even though COVID-19 got in the way of people’s 2020 life plans, businesses and restaurants used the power of web 2.0, the connectivity afforded by different digital platforms, to continue providing products and services to their customers. Thanks to QR Codes connecting offline and online platforms, events no longer needed to be canceled and helped in the fight against coronavirus. In a post-lockdown world, we might even continue to see online life thrive after this unexpected launch into fast gear.

But, as governments begin to ease restrictions on restaurants, we can expect to see more and more QR Codes help eateries make upholding social distancing in this brand new world more engaging and effective. And honestly, the forecast seems to point towards these changes being permanent.

Contactless menus for your restaurant

By simply adding a Dynamic URL QR Code to a table-tent, for instance, you ensure customers have access to a contactless menu, ordering, and payment method right at their fingertips. By connecting to a digital menu, like Zomato did in April, you ensure minimal contact between your staff and customers.

A QR Code menu is an effective way of staying contactless with your patrons. Since your information and menu remain on their smartphones, customers take it home with them and can order from your restaurant at any time. Like when they are having a Friday night in and are too cozy to brave the hassle of going out.

Here is another idea. Let’s say you always meant to but never got around to creating a website for your business, but you still want to engage customers on an online platform. No problem! You can upload pictures of your menu to your social media account of choice, let’s say Instagram, and use our Social Media QR Code to connect with your patrons. Print either directly on your menu or, if you want a more contact-free operation, simply tape the QR Code with a CTA to the table. And, since they are already on your social media channels, customers are more likely to subscribe or follow you.

Improve customer experience and increase engagement

Bring the entertainment to your customers, regardless of whether they are dining in your restaurant or picking up some to-go dinner.

Especially true for bars that offer some grub, sometimes eating out means more than just good food. It’s the experience, whether in the form of musical or theatrical entertainment.

With a simple MP3 QR Code, you can do as Chicago’s Darling did and deliver the experience to your patrons’ doors. You can work in conjunction with bands, who have also taken a hard hit during quarantine, and help promote and uplift their work while keeping your customers engaged with your brand.

Or, give customers a virtual tour of your kitchens, or a look into your supply-chain for more transparency and a better B2C relationship with a video playlist or a gallery of images. Maybe you are running a promotion, either a 2 for 1 deal for returning customers or a discount on their next meal and want to ensure patrons profit from it. Use the Coupon QR Code to make it easy for scanners to save your coupon to their mobile device and redeem it the next time they place an order.

With an array of QR Codes, there is a solution for every type of content to keep your guests engaged.

Track and measure your success

If you opt for our Dynamic QR Codes (as opposed to Static), you can view real-time tracking data for all your marketing campaigns you apply them to. Metrics such as location by city and country, time scanned, operating device used, and unique vs. total scans enable you to concretely measure how well your QR Codes are working and whether your print material is reaching your target audience, keeping you informed on how to improve them for the future.

How to create a QR Code on a Menu?

  1. Go to QR Code Generator and select the type of QR Code you’d like for your menu. We recommend starting with the PDF QR Code.*
  2. Copy the link for your PDF menu online and paste it in the URL field.
  3. Your QR Code will be generated automatically.
  4. Now, customize the design of your QR Code by adding a frame and a “Scan Me” logo.*
  5. Select colors to match your style or company brand identity.
  6. Select ‘Download’ to receive your QR Code file in .jpg format.
  7. Integrate your newly-created QR Code to any design such as on a table tent or poster.

*Sign up to create a Dynamic PDF QR Code, where you have the option of adding more information, more visuals, and edit or replace the menu without reprinting a new QR Code, even after print. You can also choose from a variety of frames and upload your own logo for further branding.

QR Codes on Menus Best Practices

Out with the old and in with the new! The QR Code is no longer constrained by a black and white aesthetic, offering a colorful spectrum of choices. You can now design QR Codes to fit your brand image with a variety of creative tools. Here are five best practices to follow when creating QR Codes, and for even more design tips and tricks, visit our blog and our in-depth design guide.

1. Add instructions

One big mistake QR Code users have made in the past is printing them without a short written explanation of what the consumer would gain or learn from scanning one. Make sure to incentivize your consumers to scan your Code, or else all your marketing efforts will be for naught.

2. Frame it

With our customizable frames, you can make your QR Code complement your creative design. When generating your Code, you will be offered a wide variety of ready-made frames with different Call to Action (CTA) messages and color options from which to select. If you want to add personalized details, you have the option of customizing even more by choosing a different shape, a different icon, and even adding your own text. Check-out our guide to QR Code frames here.

3. Add a logo inside your QR Code

Once you have selected a frame option and customized your Code’s shape and color, you can choose to incorporate a brand image or company logo at the center of your QR Code. Our system automatically detects the best and largest size for uploaded logos to make sure QR Codes remain scannable, so you do not have to worry about making the correct adjustments.

4. Save your designs

Reuse the same, branded QR Code design without fretting about recreating an old one manually. QR Code Generator PRO allows you to save all your designs as templates, so you can reuse them for any of your marketing or service endeavors.

5. Customizable URL

By default, every Dynamic QR Code gets a random short URL that redirects to any page you want when the QR Code is scanned. The short URL can be customized to your preference, using your company’s name, for example, to help you stand out from competitors and build more trust among users. Follow these steps if you would like to edit your short URL.

For more information on getting started with QR Codes, visit our Help Center page.

See QR Codes on Menus in Action

Need some inspiration to get the creativity going? Here are five use cases showcasing real-life QR Code ideas on menus.

Cashless payment for early adopters

As a restaurant, you want an easy-to-use, accessible solution for introducing cashless payment that you could implement for online orders and dine-in customers. You can add an App Store QR Code printed on receipts or at the cash register to promote the payment app you are using at your restaurant.

Make ordering a breeze with images

Have a food truck with limited promotional space and delicious looking food photography of your dishes? We have the solution to the “how to get more for less” equation. Print your menu items, then add a well-sized Image Gallery QR Code, directing your visitors to scan it in order to browse through a visual format of your menu. They can zoom in, save favorite dishes if they enjoy them, and share the images with friends on social media with a customizable button.

Offer behind-the-scenes footage

On a menu? Why not. QR Codes are a bridge to the digital from the physical, so take your patrons on a virtual tour of your kitchen so your customers know how their meals are prepared. Print a Video QR Code on your menu, and while they are waiting for their food, you can give customers a behind-the-scenes look inside your restaurant. This gives you a unique opportunity to engage patrons by building trust.

Build a community

Give customers the tools they need to help you promote your restaurant. A Social Media QR Code connects them directly to your online channels, so they don’t have to type your name in a search bar in order to rediscover your business. They can easily tag you in food pics of your dishes, stay up to date with any opening hour changes, seasonal menus, and any happy hour specials.

Less paper waste

Consolidate all your menus into one. Erase the concept of having a separate drinks menu or wine card, and simply provide all of your options into one PDF QR Code. What’s better than saving table space for your guests and reducing paper waste? All the information in a Dynamic QR Code is editable any time, allowing you to correct mistakes on the fly, as well as update your menu for the holidays or simply add any new dishes or cocktails without the hassle of reprinting.

FAQ

We are not quite sure, to be honest. Legend has it some fear that adding technology and automation increases the technical complexity, some worry customers will not interact with it, and some are skeptical it will give a substantial ROI. But if you take a look at how QR Codes have revolutionized the Chinese restaurant business, you quickly realize these fears, worries, and doubts are merely imaginary monsters hiding under the bed. It has made it into a cashless society, and it has created a restaurant experience that is contactless, more efficient, and convenient. With new social distancing regulations in light of COVID-19, QR Codes have helped support the restaurant industry across the World, increasing their use for food ordering and payment.

Simple, digital menus offer more content and more information, for fewer print costs in a mobile-optimized format. To break it down, technological revolutions allow for progress and movement, meaning digital menus are a space to rethink the traditional menu format. By scanning a QR Code, customers can be redirected to a website where they can scroll through your different dishes, zoom in on pictures, read more on nutritional facts and allergy information, add items to a cart, and even pay. You can also consolidate all your menus, from drinks to seasonal specials, into one gallery or PDF, saving you big on printing costs and saving your customers from frustratingly browsing through different brochures.

The digital wave has been slowly rolling in, bringing with it the 5G network, smartphones with increasingly better processing speed, longer battery life, larger storage capacity, and crystalline screens. From collaborations over Zoom to live concerts streamed all across the web, COVID-19 has forced the adoption of digital platforms in order to maintain social distancing regulations to keep each other safe while staying connected. And digital menus are part of that wave, and they are definitely revolutionizing the way customers experience the restaurant industry. QR Codes, being the prodigious child that binds both digital and traditional, helps restaurants put menus directly in customers’ hands regardless of where they are. It enables them to not only browse, order, and pay either in the restaurant or from home, it also engages people to promote their favorite eatery by making it easy to share menus with friends and family.

That is not the ultimate goal of digital menus or QR Codes. But, with a push for more environmentally friendly marketing choices, it is important to be mindful of waste and the needless creation of print materials. QR Codes enable the sharing of mass information in a compact, mobile-optimized format that uses print materials as a jumping-off point. Thus, digital menus are an extension of the physical world, crafting a more interactive and smart dining experience.

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