It's an exciting time to be part of the food service industry. Despite a rocky start, the 2020s promise to be a transformative period driven by new technology. Restaurants, small cafes, mom-and-pop diners, and even large-scale venues such as stadiums and arenas have all spent the last two years undergoing a process of deep self-reflection in which they've questioned the very nature of the dining experience itself. The result of their efforts? Operational efficiency redefined, putting the customer experience front and centre, with QR code menus leading the way.
Today, we're going to take a look at how the re-emergence of QR code technology has helped to transform a struggling industry stuck in its ways into an adaptable powerhouse able to withstand numerous forms of market adversity and subsequent crises.
We believe that technology, such as the QR code menu and mobile ordering and payment platforms, is the way forward for hotel and food service establishments worldwide. We'll look at a functional checklist for setting up QR code menus in your establishment. The checklist will include recommendations to ensure that implementation goes smoothly for both the business and the consumer.
Emergent tech: transforming the food service industry
The modern customer expects a lot out of the food service industry. Those expectations, in turn, have driven the conversation in a particular direction: contactless ordering and payment options. If you were to try and isolate the reason for this shift, you could point to any number of factors: sweeping societal change, increased fidelity to hygiene practices, widespread labor shortages, etc.
Over the past few years, the perfect confluence of factors has combined to redefine how customers see the dining experience and what they demand from business owners.
With all the leaps and bounds of modern technology, it's interesting to note that QR codes —a decades-old solution— would circle back to the forefront, causing so much positive disruption. Yet here we are, with QR codes leading the way forward. According to Beaconstac, a whopping 52% of eateries in the United States have made the switch to QR code menus for the bulk of their business.
Or take Martech Alliance's stats if you prefer. Since 2020, American consumers have seen a nearly 47% increase in QR code scans. This is particularly noteworthy because, unlike Asian markets where QR codes have thrived since their inception, the Western World has only just begun to see the depth of their utility. Worldwide, there are expected to be more than one billion QR code scans this year alone.
When you look at incredible, growth-based stats like these, it becomes readily apparent that QR codes have found their true moment in history. That said, let's take a brief look at what QR codes are capable of in the food service arena.
Visually rich QR code menus
QR code menus are the cornerstone of QR tech's efficacy in the restaurant industry. That's because a quick QR scan provides an easy gateway to visually striking menus and other critical functions. With these codes, customers can see a visual representation of EVERY item on your menu, increasing the likelihood of cross-sells and upsells while decreasing unnecessary interactions with waitstaff and offering your customers the personalised experience they’re looking for.
Order, delivery, and payment options
An adaptable visual menu is the first step, but it's not enough to drive customer engagement. Order, delivery, and payment options add functionality to your QR code menus. Giving consumers the option to control the flow of the dining experience significantly improves customer outcomes as well as your bottom line.
Use cases for QR code platforms are constantly evolving. Modern customers have come to expect simple order payment functionality from the QR code menus that they use. Diligent business owners can link their QR codes to a robust suite of payment options, allowing customers to split the bill between parties or, in the case of large-scale venues, lump orders from multiple vendors into a single transaction.
CRM integration and loyalty programs
Customers may enjoy the front-end benefits provided by QR code menus, but there's an equal advantage to be had for savvy entrepreneurs who leverage the technology most effectively.
Business owners can configure their QR code menu to sync directly with their customer relationship management (CRM) software, enabling them to obtain a wealth of information with every QR code scanned. Everything, from the customer name and demographic information to their purchasing habits, is readily available through QR code usage. From there, you can use it to create targeted advertising and loyalty programs meant to drive repeat business through your doorway.
Related: How to adapt to hospitality's new normal
Checklist for implementing QR codes in your establishment
Now that we've taken a moment to analyse QR tech and its sudden resurgence throughout the food service industry, let's turn our attention toward implementing QR codes in your own venue. We'll take a look at considerations on both the business and the consumer side of things.
The business side: prepare the details
Set up a visually robust menu
The first step in the process is setting up a visually compelling menu for your customers to interact with. QR code technology allows you to link simple QR code scans to a web-based platform featuring high-quality pictures of EVERY item on your menu, as opposed to the few select entrees and appetisers featured on a traditional menu. In turn, this boosts customer engagement, increases upsells and cross-sells, and nets extra revenue from each order.
Customise your digital menu
Once you've completed your initial menu setup, you should take some time customising the layout and functionality of your QR code menu. A quality digital menu solution will allow you and your management team to add, delete, or even temporarily suspend menu items depending on their availability.
In addition, spend time setting up recurrent specials such as daily entrees or a happy hour. No matter what choices you make for your business, menu optimisation is an essential step in your overall integration blueprint.
Set up payment and delivery options
You want to get the most out of your digital menu. In this day and age, advanced menu functionality is imperative. Without ordering and payment options, your QR code menu is little more than a novelty.
The next step in your menu setup is enabling the right mix of ordering, delivery, and payment options for your business model. The modern-day customer has come to expect an all-in-one digital solution capable of guiding them through the dining experience from start to finish. Payment and delivery options provide all the functionality that your clientele craves.
Decide the level of integration you want with your POS
Once you've set up your QR code menu's order and payment functions, it's time to make them play nicely with your point of sale (POS) system. A feature-rich digital menu and payment platform will give you customisable options. It's up to you to figure out if you want to fully automate the entire process, sending QR based orders direct to the kitchen, or whether you want your waitstaff to audit the process by hand punching orders into the POS. Choose whatever works best for the scale of your eatery.
Explore other QR code features
QR code menus revolutionise the flow of the meal, prioritising the customer experience while simultaneously streamlining your establishment's efficiency, but that's not all they do. There's a whole host of back-end features waiting to be utilised.
Every time a customer scans your code, you capture valuable data on that customer. Everything from their name to more actionable sales and marketing info is readily available at your fingertips. In turn, you can link that data to your customer relationship management (CRM) software in order to drive customer loyalty programs, discounts, and other incentives.
Make onsite ordering direct and easy
The final step, at least on the business side, is making sure that customers can easily access your digital menu. In-house, make sure to conspicuously place scannable QR codes at every table. Online, make sure to prominently place an "Order online" button on your website as well as the Google SERP.
The customer side: prepare to elevate your practices
Once your digital menu is up and running, it's time to take care of a few things on the customer side of the business before you can call your digital transformation complete.
Assume ownership of the process
Transitioning from paper menus to QR codes may require a bit of customer education at the outset. It's important, however, for you to assume ownership over the process. That means positioning your QR code menu simply, as "the way you do things" in your establishment. Follow that up with simple directions for use and allow your guests the time and space to figure out how ordering works. The good news? The modern patron craves a contactless experience, and the learning curve is relatively shallow.
Position your menu with ease of use in mind
Education is one part of the equation; marketing is the other. Don't call your QR code menu an app. That implies extra work on the part of the customer. QR code usage does not require additional downloads or setup. With the right platform, all your patrons have to do is scan the code in order to instantly access your web-based menu and its features. Positioning QR code use correctly helps improve customer engagement.
Customise the customer experience
The final step is making sure that your QR code menu is a living, breathing entity that changes with the needs of your business and your clientele. Adopt a reflexive attitude towards service by purposing the data you obtain from each QR scan to create incentives and marketing that resonates with your customers. Once you establish a positive feedback loop, you can consider your integration complete.
Related: How the Breakfast Club increased average order value by 25-30%
Get started on a seamless digital integration
QR codes offer a surprising amount of utility to food service venues of all shapes and sizes. From a hygienic, contact-free dining experience to streamlined workflows, QR codes have revolutionised the modern dining experience.
While any digital transformation can seem like a daunting task, especially for large-scale businesses that are set in their ways, QR code implementation is surprisingly easy. Following the few simple steps listed above can radically improve the scope and efficiency of your business. Ready to get started? Contact the experts at Mr Yum to help with your QR code integration.