QR codes

Most diners want QR codes as a long-term payment option

Restaurant operators, staff, and patrons have embraced increased technology over the past couple of years, both by preference and necessity. QR codes, which had existed prior to the pandemic but have surged in prominence since 2020, look like they’re here to stay.

At first, part of that motivation was an early belief that COVID-19 spread easily and incessantly through surface contact. While the primary method of transmission ultimately transpired to be airborne spread, and many restaurants have returned to offering paper or laminated menus, customers have grown to like the convenience and accessibility of digital menus via QR codes.

Samantha Des Jardins of Datassential writes for SmartBrief that consumers actually prefer QR codes as a way to order and pay far more than a restaurateur might expect.

Datassential data shows that nearly six in 10 (58 per cent) of consumers overall say they’d like to have the option of using a QR code to pay at a restaurant or grocery store.

The response is even more positive when it comes to using QR codes to access restaurant menus specifically. Among consumers who have used QR codes to bring up menus or pay before, 70 per cent say they like them. The highest positive response comes from millennials, who have used them before (78 per cent).

Boomers hate them, though, right? Not even close.

Over half (56 per cent) of boomers who have used QR codes at some point in the past say they like using them to bring up menus at restaurants. So, for many older diners, what started off as an adjustment has become a preference.

Des Jardins writes that QR codes offer many benefits to restaurants, from sanitary improvements to saved time and resources to easy menu alterations.

The challenge will be showing consumers all these benefits, as well as ensuring that operators strike a balance between physical and digital menus to meet different consumers’ preferences. A mixed method — where consumers are given the option of a QR code or a physical menu, or one where a QR code is only used as an option to pay — may be the way forward, suggests Des Jardins.

As Restobiz discussed recently, though, relying on technology at the front of the house doesn’t mean that good old-fashioned hospitality should disappear.

Striking the balance is key to a profitable and successful future.