The QR code has been around for a few decades, but 2020 sure seems to the year of widespread adoption, at least in the hospitality industry. Thousands of restaurants across the country have eliminated menus in favor of a QR code that guests can scan with their smartphones to see the menu and often, to order food.
What is the advantage? First, it eliminates the need to hand out menus at a restaurant and secondly, to sanitize those menus once they've been used. With COVID-19 still not under control, restaurants are under pressure to operate at a new level of cleanliness, which, frankly, I don't mind. I’ve been eating out since I can remember. That’s 60+years ago. But now we need to deal with the fact that menus can carry germs, viruses, bacteria. I suppose we could have guessed that. But who would have thought we’d be using bar codes in restaurants as the new normal?
The QR code on the left is from Macaroni Grill and leads you to their online menu. The waiter still comes to take my order, which I prefer. But I’ve been to places where the QR code is attached to the table and you order without seeing a waiter. It probably simpler for the kitchen, but heaven forbid you need to modify something or ask a question pertaining to a food allergy. (Can I get that salad without carrots?, for example). So, while expedient ... perhaps not so consumer friendly. But maybe more sanitary. And on the plus side it can be nice to get your order in fast, without having to wait for someone to show up at your table to take it and then re-key it into a back-of-house computer, and possibly screw it up.
But, back to the QR code. There it is. Sanitary, disposable, cheap to reproduce, nearly infinite in its functionality. (Thank you, Denso, for placing it in the public domain)
I checked in with restaurant software expert Bob Frazier, and he advised me that "approximately 30% of restaurants are now using QR codes for menu access, ordering, and/or payment." That sounds like a pretty good start. There are many benefits of using QR codes in restaurants, he pointed out, including "safety, convenience, increased sales and sustainability" among others. See his full article on QR code menus here.
At the end of your meal, you are likely to see yet another QR code, this time to pay right at the table using your phone. I have started doing that this year and I love it. It's fast, easy and safe. I don't need to wait for the food server to get back to my table and abscond with my credit card and then trot around with it for ten minutes until they return. No sir, nobody is touching my credit card anymore! I simply scan the QR code at the bottom of the receipt and can complete payment within 30 to 60 seconds, including adding a tip. It's great for the hospitality industry, and great for all of us, holding our germ infested bar code reading smart phones.
Below, a team of engineers prepare a QR code for the check at a restaurant.
Tip - go to macaroni grill.com and get a $5 coupon for joining their club and your subscription to The BarCode News will have paid for itself !