As restaurants reckon with the challenges of reopening, many of them have turned to QR codes as a means to cut back on points of contact between customers.
QR codes are a matrix-style bar code that originated in Japan in 1994, but has seen a surge in popularity with the rise of smart phones over the past decade. QR codes can be scanned by your phone’s camera to direct your phone to perform a certain action, like opening a webpage with your restaurant’s menu.
They can be easily generated and set to perform countless other actions like redirecting to your social media pages, tagging your restaurant in a post, opening up a digital comment card, and much more.
Once you have your QR code, though, you have to answer the next big question. How do you put it in front of your customers so they can easily scan it?
If you already have a QR code, why the need for a physical menu? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?
The reality is that not all customers will have the technical proficiency to scan a QR code with their smart device, so relying on them as the sole means to access your menu will likely cause more headaches than it solves.
Adding a QR code to the front page of your menu gives customers the option to peruse your menu in the manner they are most comfortable with. They can choose to flip through it, or if they want to avoid all contact, they can scroll through it on their phone. Make sure the QR code is big and visible so customers see it before automatically picking up the menu.
Posters are a great, cost-effective way to display your QR codes all around your restaurant. They can be placed indoors for dine-in customers, or in windows facing outwards for patio customers or interested passerby. For the latter, make sure you print large enough for the QR codes to stand out from a distance.
Similar to posters, but cheaper and disposable, flyers are great for advertising your QR code outside of your store. Rather than print your entire menu onto a flyer, which could necessitate a tiny font size or multiple pages, you can slap a big QR code on it and achieve the same effect. That also leaves you plenty of room for other information like new hours, social tags, changing dine-in policies, etc.
- Table Tents
Free-standing table tents are a great way to put the QR code right in front of your customers in an unobtrusive manner. Make sure to include a message about not picking up and handling the table tent when snapping a pic of the QR code. Otherwise, you’re defeating the entire purpose of touchless menus.
- Tabletop Inserts
Similar to table tents, these can be placed atop your table, putting them right in front of your customers for easy scanning. They require a stand to be inserted into, but this comes with two added benefits: it’s easier to wipe down and clean than a table tent, and it has no risk of blowing away if you place it on an outdoor table.
- Sandwich Boards
Sandwich boards are the perfect promotional tool for the current climate, because they don’t require customers entering your restaurant. If you place your QR code on a sandwich board and set it up on the sidewalk outside your restaurant, customers can access your menu and make an informed decision about whether or not to enter your restaurant. They also work well for restaurants with outdoor seating, or you can place it in high traffic areas within your dining room.
- Business Cards
Including QR codes on your business card can add a new dimension to your networking, and cut out an extra step for potential customers. Rather than put the onus on them to find your website and menu, they can simply scan your QR code and be brought it to instantly. It provides quick access to your menu and encourages later engagement actions, so your business isn’t forgotten the second you hand over your card.
- Loyalty Cards
Similar to business cards, loyalty cards provide an opportunity to send customers home with your QR code. Distributing them to potential customers gives them ability to quickly see your menu, and incentives them to make your business a part of their weekly routine. If you typically hand out loyalty cards at the register, consider linking the QR code to some part of your marketing rather than your menu, since your customers will theoretically already be aware of it.
About the Author
Mark Plumlee is the senior editor for MustHaveMenus, an online restaurant design and printing service.