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The restaurant industry has seen many advances over the years, and the COVID-19 pandemic definitely had a hand in some of those rapid changes. Instead of remaining closed, many restaurants found ways to reopen their establishments in safe ways. According to the National Restaurant Association, all restaurants in the country are back to 50% capacity or higher, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of restaurant owners across the United States. 

Whether you like it or not, going out to eat will never look the same thanks to technological advances that have been put into place to keep people safe and boost customer satisfaction. One of the newer developments in the food industry is QR code menus. While some restaurants have been using this style of online menu for a long time, they have risen in popularity in the post-pandemic world. 

If you’re interested in implementing QR code menus at your restaurant or simply want to learn more about this type of technology, continue reading. 

What is a QR code menu?

You’ve most likely seen the small, black box known as a QR code before. It’s been around since the 1990s and is a machine-readable label that holds data and information about whatever the creator wants. 

A contactless menu — a style of ordering that increases safety — features a QR code that your customers can scan with their smartphone cameras. Once they scan the code, they will be taken directly to your menu where they can browse food and drink options. 

How to make a QR code menu

Making a menu QR code doesn’t have to be complicated. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, this is something you can do. Follow these steps to get started:

1. Find a QR code generator: There are many options for creating a QR code, but most will give you the option to create a PDF menu, JPEG menu and H5 menu file solution. 

2. Choose your file: After picking the QR code creator, upload your menu file to the generator. Depending on the type of website or app that you’re working with, you may be able to personalize the file type that is created. 

3. Generate your QR code: Now that your file is uploaded to the QR code generator, you can complete the creation process. With your custom QR code, you may also be able to edit the design, color, patterns and edges to match your brand. 

4. Test drive your QR code: Before you place your contactless QR code all over your restaurant, make sure that it works correctly. Use your smartphone to scan it to ensure the menu pops up on your web browser and is readable for easy use.

5. Download the code: Once you’re sure that the code works, download whatever file type works best for you. Generally, an SVG or PNG format is easy to use in print and online advertising. 

6. Print the code: Now that you’ve downloaded the QR menu, all you need to do is print it and implement it where you’d like. 

How to use a QR code menu in your restaurant

One of the wonderful things about QR code menus is their versatility. Unlike paper menus that generally are placed on tables or put on the wall, contactless QR codes can be placed anywhere that you desire. But, what are the most effective placement options for your menu? Let’s dive into some creative and effective places to put your QR code:

  • Windows: For potential customers who are trying to decide whether or not to eat at your restaurant, having access to the menu on the outside windows can help them easily make their decision. 
  • Walls: If you happen to have lines fairly often, then having the QR code menu on the walls where people can see it while waiting can speed up the ordering process.
  • Tables: It’s common to see table toppers or small cards attached to tables in restaurants. This can be an easy way to give people more flexibility and time to decide what they want to order.
  • Flyers: Print out the QR code menu and spread them all over town. This is a fun way to draw people’s attention to your restaurant, and you could offer a promotional deal for anyone that brings in the flier the next time they eat at your establishment.
  • Stickers: To be extra creative and spread the word about your product offering, you can turn your QR code menu into stickers to give to people or to hang up around your community. 
  • Business cards: Similar to stickers, a business card is an easy item for people to grab and take with them either to their table to order or when they leave the restaurant. 

Boost customer experience with QR codes

In the technology-focused world that we’re living in, people enjoy fast-paced dining and hands-on experiences. QR code menus provide the self-service element that a lot of customers desire when choosing a restaurant. It gives people the ability to scan the food, dessert and drink menus right when they sit down without waiting for a server to bring them. 

It also eliminates the problem of menu sharing — the unfortunate occurrence when a restaurant doesn’t have enough menus for every person at a table. If you’ve ever been at a table with a hungry crowd without enough menus to look at, you understand the menu sharing frustration. Adding a QR code menu can help you avoid hangry customers and allow everyone to individually spend time browsing your delicious options. 

What should you consider when implementing a digital menu?

As helpful as QR code menus are, they still have their cons. If you’re considering exchanging your physical menus for contactless ones, make sure that you pay attention to the potential issues that come with relying on digital menus. Here are some challenges to consider: 

Not everyone has an smartphone

Although smartphones have become a staple in most people’s lives, not everyone has a phone that will enable them to scan a QR code. To ensure you won’t lose business from this audience, it’s important to keep a couple copies of a physical menu on hand just in case. 

It can get in the way of communication

There are many reasons that people may be eating at your restaurant, but a group of friends or family might be getting together to catch up and communicate with one another. Having to sit down and instantly look at your phone to see the menu may put a barrier between interaction with your guests. 

A QR code can take away from your restaurant’s aesthetic 

For fine-dining or fancier restaurants, a QR code menu may feel like a disruption to your establishment’s upscale brand. Physical menus tend to  feel more classic or traditional, so consider what type of restaurant you run and whether or not a contactless menu style will help the overall customer experience. 

How can your restaurant benefit from a QR code menu?

Although physical menus are great, there are many benefits that come from implementing a contactless QR code menu in your establishment. Here are some reasons to try them out:

Safety first

Traditional menus are often passed around to multiple diners and the staff without being sanitized. Eliminating physical menus reduces the possibility for bacteria living on shared surfaces or spreading through physical contact. A QR code menu doesn’t require customers to touch it, and the QR code fliers can easily be replaced. 

Updating is easy 

Because a QR code menu is digital, you can easily switch out entrees or drinks when you’re wanting to try out new dishes without having to reprint your restaurant menu. It also gives you the ability to update your menu’s design whenever you want to. Your staff just needs to edit the online menu and the QR codes will automatically sync with the updated info. 

Fast table turnover 

Because there is no need to drop off or pick up menus and less obligation to sanitize surfaces in between uses, you can save time and get more people in and out of your restaurant quickly. Quick table turnover means you can serve more customers daily.

Reduces costs

Buying physical menus and replacing them can add up, especially if you need to print many copies for all of your expected customers. Since QR code menus are digital, you skip the printer and save lots of money on design and printing services. 

Integrates seamlessly 

If you’re nervous to try and implement a QR code because you already have a stable technology stack in use, don’t worry! This contactless menu works well alongside any existing tech and online ordering systems because they are easy to upload to your website and display on TV or iPad screens. 

Helps restaurants

After the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants have struggled to fill empty staffing and serving positions within their businesses. QR code menus can help lower-staffed establishments because customers can peruse the menu without having to wait for it to be brought to the table. 

Environmentally friendly 

By using digital menus, you avoid using the large amounts of paper and plastic that physical menus require. This is a much more sustainable solution and is better for the environment. According to a study done by SmartBrief, customers are 50% more likely to choose a restaurant that operates with environmentally friendly practices over an establishment that doesn’t. 

A partnership with Grubhub can benefit your restaurant

Implementing QR code menus isn’t the only way to improve your restaurant operations. Partner with Grubhub to get the following:

  • Technology integrations: Gain access to point-of-sale and tech integrations to help simplify your processes.
  • Grubhub Direct: Create a commission-free ordering website that matches your existing branding. Direct also makes it easy for you to integrate your QR code menu onto your site, making it easy for customers to order directly off your commission-free site with just one scan. For extra exposure, print out your QR codes and put them in your delivery bags for the next time someone wants to order from your restaurant. 
  • Delivery options: Seamlessly incorporate our flexible driving solutions to get orders where they need to go quickly. 
  • 24/7 support: When you partner with us, you get to work with a real person who desires your restaurant to flourish. Ask any questions from our experts and let us help you meet your goals. 

There are so many people all over the country who are looking for a new restaurant to try out — 33+ million to be exact. If you want to turn these diners into repeat customers, partner with us! 
Ready to get started? Partner with Grubhub today.