Digital technology is changing the traditional restaurant experience, and one trend to watch in 2021 is contactless ordering. Various tools for contactless pickup, shopping, and other interactions have become popular due to the pandemic, but contactless ordering could be a huge change in how we deal with the restaurant delivery app. QR codes are being implemented as a convenient way to order food from your mobile device. Many restaurants and other companies are trying this technology now.
Using QR Codes
QR codes are images that can be placed physically in posters, fliers, within restaurants, or online, and scanned by cameras to bring up a link to a web page or app. They have been used for marketing and advertising as well as other purposes.
They have been catching on as a payment method too. A September 2020 survey of US and UK customers found that 27% had used a QR code as a payment method for goods and services. When the same group was asked where they would likely use QR codes to pay, 44.31% answered that they would do so at restaurants and bars, above other options like banks and pharmacies. Restaurants are seeing the potential of streamlining their payments by taking them to mobile devices.
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QR Codes for Ordering
Placing orders at restaurants is another major area where QR codes can be used, and it overlaps heavily with using QR codes to pay. A QR code scanned at a table, placemat, table tent, or counter can open a digital menu on a mobile device.
This offers several advantages. Customers can browse immediately at their own pace rather than waiting for service to arrive. They can also pay directly with digital payments like credit cards or mobile wallets. Paper menus don’t need to be distributed, which saves time for workers, and also addresses the health concerns of multiple customers handling the same menu. And servers don’t need to take orders manually, which saves a great deal of time for them and lets them serve more customers at once. Digital menus can also be updated instantly if the menu changes or if special deals are being offered.
Another advantage is that digital orders can be transmitted to the kitchen quickly and accurately. Customers can ensure that every item they order and special instructions go directly to the kitchen staff to be followed. Shift4 Payments, a mobile technology company, has introduced a contactless QR code ordering system that integrates with restaurant POS systems, sending digital orders directly from customer phones to the POS of the restaurant so it can be prepared and the payment can be tracked in the same system as other types of orders.
Integrating payment and ordering in-store with digital ordering systems can also connect customers to the restaurant delivery app. Getting them engaged with digital ordering is a step toward making them comfortable ordering from the restaurant from anywhere while on-the-go.
Potential downsides to adoption of QR code ordering
While QR code restaurant ordering offers convenience and speed, there are some reasons why customers aren’t interested in it, which could give restaurants pause when considering the adoption of QR codes for ordering. Less technically-minded customers including older and more traditional customers may prefer reading paper menus and placing an order with a waiter. They may also prefer paying with cash or credit cards directly instead of dealing with online payments when they are in person.
Another obstacle is the reliance on smartphones to scan QR codes and browse the digital menu. While the vast majority of people carry smartphones with them to restaurants, the fact that the majority have never used QR codes to pay or order goods is a problem. They may not be willing to take out their phones for this purpose. Additionally, phone screens are small and can only show a few items at a time, making it difficult to showcase a full menu, offer drinks and desserts, and so forth. Customers may prefer a paper menu that can convey all the order options at once instead of having to use their screen. It’s also harder to show other diners what you are ordering.
Due to these issues, restaurants should not expect all customers to adopt QR code ordering instantly. Some may prefer traditional ordering instead, so they should keep menus at the ready. However, with support from POS and digital payment systems, it costs less to implement and can be adopted easily while still leaving options for customers. Give access to digital menus, and many customers will come to appreciate the speed and convenience of ordering.