QR Code Menu: How to create QR restaurant menus to combat COVID-19 (2020)
Last Updated: September 24, 2020
As restaurants reopen, a major concern for them is limiting the spread of the Coronavirus through surfaces, such as physical menus. Switching to contactless options like QR Code menus is the next normal for restaurants of all sizes. CDC in its guidelines clearly stated the use of disposable or digital menus.
Provide disposable menus to guests and make menus available digitally so that customers can view on a personal electronic device, if possible. If disposable menus cannot be provided, properly disinfect menus before and after customer use. Consider options for customers to order ahead of time.
QR Code menus are digital menus that enable diners to scan and access on their mobile phones. As the restaurants reopen after the COVID-lockdown, to ensure the safety of the diners, national restaurant associations make it mandatory for them to offer disposable menus or digital menus.
How to make a QR Code for a menu in 5 quick steps?
As restaurants reopen with restrictions, the owner and the staff have a plenty of operational and financial things to take care of. To keep simple things simple, Beaconstac has made the QR Code menu creation process absolutely easy and quick. We bet it won’t take longer than your coffee lasts!
Here’s how you can make a simple yet effective QR Code menu for your restaurant –
Step 1: Go to Beaconstac’s QR Code dashboard
To create a QR Code menu for your restaurant’s safe reopening, you need to have access to the Beaconstac dashboard. You could either sign up for a 14-day free trial or buy a plan that best suits your restaurant needs. Start by clicking on the bright blue button the right-top that reads CREATE QR CODE.
Step 2: Select the QR Code type – Restaurant Menu
A restaurant menu has tailored requirements. To cater to them, Beaconstac has built a dedicated QR Code type for it. Pick “Restaurant Menu” from the Dynamic style QR Codes. This ensures,
Your ordering system is bloat-free and the menu never downloads on the consumer’s smartphone
You get an unique option to add multiple menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Step 3: Upload your digital (PDF) menu
On this step, you are building what your diners would experience on their smartphones.
You either have an all-inclusive menu, or distinguished menus for drinks, desserts, food, brunch, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Beaconstac’s QR Code menu solution supports both cases.
Create tabs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and upload your PDF menus for each tab. These tabs are fully customizable, which means you can change the icons, text, and time – anytime. Did I mention without changing the QR Code? Well, yes that too!
Add your restaurant personality to your digital menu index, by adding your restaurant logo, personalized message, and restaurant background.
Step 4: Customize your QR Code, aka, your new menu!
This QR Code will be the replacement of your gorgeous physical menu. We’ll help you make it equally or even more attractive. Here are some of the most popular customizations –
Add your restaurant logo at the face of the QR Code
Use colors and QR patterns that best represent your restaurant vibe
Use a frame or text below the QR Code to guide your diners
Step 5: Save and download your QR Code
Your QR Code is ready for use! It’s important to understand the format you should download the QR Code in. This purely depends on your use case.
If you are looking to place QR Code menus on tables, a png format works well.
However, if you want to paste one in a larger size by the entrance or on the restaurant window, download it as an SVG or eps. If you are working with a freelance designer, this is the recommended download format.
If you are looking to share the QR Code as a file over email, opt for a PDF format.
6. Deploy your QR Code Menu across your restaurant
Print your QR Code menu and paste them on all tables, by the entrance or at the order counter. You could also fit in the QR Code menu in your existing ordering process. Hand over the QR Code to the restaurant staff who moves around displaying the QR Code and taking orders.
How to make a QR Code menu for your restaurant, if you don’t have a digital version already?
Creating a QR Code menu for a PDF menu is straightforward. And, so is the case when you don’t have a PDF available.
Click a picture of your physical menu
Login to the Beaconstac dashboard
Select image or landing page as QR Code types
Upload the image you’ve clicked or, use our DIY editor to build a digital menu
Your QR Code is ready!
Examples of how restaurants are using QR Codes as menus
One of the popular concerns we come across while talking to restaurant owners is “Where do I place these QR Code menus for best results?”
Since Beaconstac has been empowering restaurants to reopen safely with a QR Code menu for a long time, we’ve collected insights on how restaurants are deploying QR Codes as their menu alternative.
Some of the most popular deployment locations are-
Posters by the entrance
To help you implement an innovative yet intuitive way of substituting physical menus, I have collected inspirations from around our customers and the internet –
Based on a sample size of 8,2378 restaurants, 67% of restaurants deploy QR Codes only on tables as washable stickers, inserts or table tents, 11% of them print it out as cards that service staff carry around while taking orders, and 2% put it as posters on curb-side or by the entrance. Whereas 20% of them place QR Code menus at a combination of locations. [Source – Beaconstac database]
How do menu QR Codes for restaurants work?
1. DEPLOY: Place the QR Codes menus on table toppers, on curbside posters or directly at ordering stations 2. SCAN: When a consumer scans the QR Code menu, they will be able to view the entire menu on their smartphones, avoiding unnecessary contact. 3. ORDER: They can use this digital menu to place orders.
How to scan menu QR Codes at a restaurant – with Android and iPhone?
Scanning a QR Code on both iPhone and Android doesn’t require an app! It is a two step process –
Point your phone camera at the QR Code and wait for it to be detected.
A notification popups as soon as the QR Code is detected. Click on it and you can access the menu linked.
Why is it recommended to create a QR Code for menu in COVID-19 situations in 2020?
As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and limiting contact are at the core of the new normal. When it comes to a safe reopening of your restaurant, you need to build a contactless mechanism that works seamlessly. There are 3 options for a contactless menu –
Digital signage menu
QR Code menu
Disposable menu – While this is a quick fix to the problem at hand, it is not sustainable for the unprecedented COVID-19 future. Printing stacks and stacks of disposable menus adds up to the cost, which is a major consideration for the foreseeable future.
Digital signage menu – Another massive investment which might not be a feasible option for most small and medium scale restaurants.
QR Code menu – This is certainly the most popular menu alternative for most restaurants. Here are a few reasons why –
No apps required to scan them
Scanning QR Code is a natural behavior for millennials in 2020. This is a result of apps like Google Pay, Snapchat, now WhatsApp; and new-age consumer brands using QR Codes for a contactless product demo
Extensive use of QR Codes in China and success stories from the same have inspired the world to try them out.
It is dynamic, which means restaurants like you can always modify the menu to their customer’s likings
How to ensure your restaurant’s QR Code menu is a surefire hit!
QR Codes are two decades old, but its usage as an alternative to physical menus become mainstream quite recently. One of the primary reasons for the massive surge in QR Codes as menu, was their ability to be scanned using a phone’s camera.
To ensure your restaurant menu QR Codes work seamlessly, here are 3 things you should consider –
1. Help the older generation scan QR Codes
QR Codes are popular with all but our oldest customers
David Ashe, Fiddlin Fish Brewery, Winston-Salem, United States
Older customers often struggle with scanning QR Codes. To help them have an exciting and seamless experience, make sure to print “how to scan” instructions along with QR Code.
You could either print instructions alongside or print them on a separate flyer. Here are a few examples to help you-
2. Customize QR Codes to represent your brand
Present QR Codes as an extension of your brand. This not only displays the connected experience inside your restaurant but also gives customers the confidence to scan them risk-free.
In the order of leaving a significant brand impact, some of the basic customizations are –
Adding a brand logo
Placing a call-to-action frame around the QR Code that tells the customer what has to be done with the QR Code and what to expect when scanned.
Modifying the shape and color of your QR Codes to represent your brand vibe.
3. QR Code menu generator (/solution) – Choose the best one
Why is this so important? For the very simple reason – build an experience that’s worth remembering for your customers. Apart from the basic functionalities a QR Code solution has, the menu QR Code requires specific features. While choosing a QR Code menu solution, look out for –
Features specific to a good QR Code menu generator
When a consumer scans a QR Code, it should not download on the phone. Ghost unwanted files on a consumer mobile phone is an extremely poor experience.
The platform should have the capability to upload multiple PDFs. This offers the flexibility to add the. breakfast, lunch, or dinner menus to the same QR Code.
Why be static when you can be dynamic! A dynamic QR Code ensures that you can change the menu whenever you want, which means, the weekend menu can be different from the weekday menu
The QR Code should speak multiple languages. This means when a phone with default language set as Spanish scans the QR Code, the menu displayed in Spanish.
If you have a franchise, lookout for a platform that supports scale, that is, the ability to manage all QR Codes under a single platform and roll out changes at scale.
Basic features your QR Code generator should have
Ability to customize it, especially add a logo, change the color and add a call-to-action frame around the QR Code
Working with restaurants and hotels, big and small, like Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt, Beaconstac ticks all functionalities that help build a seamless experience for your QR Code menu. Get started! 👇
How are leading hotels and restaurants using QR Code menu?
Mariott restaurants combat the COVID-19 virus with QR Code menus
Marriott restaurants in Aruba, Texas, California, New Jersey, England, and Florida among others are extensively using QR Codes as menus to limit the touch of physical objects. Being one of the early adopters of QR Code menus, Marriott hotels have built a success story for the rest of the hotels to replicate.
Fiddlin Fish Brewery in North Carolina, United States, makes use of QR for menu
Fiddlin Fish, like all other restaurants, is navigating a situation that is new to them and to the rest of the world.
Diners walking into restaurants are expecting to see the new normal – Are the tables apart? Are diners crowding at counters to place their order? Is the restaurant management using a QR Code as a menu over laminated menus?
As Fiddlin Fish switched to contactless QR Code menus which can be viewed on the consumer’s smartphone, they feel safe and confident walking into the restaurant premises.
WestEgg Cafe uses QR Code menus for an efficient ordering system
In the wake of the pandemic, restaurant big and small are moving to contactless solutions. West Egg Cafe in Atlanta uses Beaconstac to power their QR Code menus.
The cafe took QR Code menus and added a layer of innovation to it. When the customer flips the cube to the green side, a staff member walks up to take orders.
How to make the most of your QR Code menus – step by step?
1) Phase I: Welcome back guests with a safe QR Code ordering system
As we navigate the pandemic, the short term goal of all restaurants is to bring back guests. Building a safe environment for them to feel confident and walk in is therefore the first step.
One of the low effort and high impact change is replacing physical menus with QR Codes. Either place QR Codes on the tables or hand over QR Codes to restaurant staff. While the guests pick their favourite dishes from the digital menu on their phones, the staff members move around and take orders.
Small changes like these have major impact on limiting the spread of the virus and reassuring the guests that they can can walk in.
2) Phase 2: Delight them with highly relevant and personalized campaigns
The next step is to continue adding value with QR powered digital menu system. Since our QR Codes are dynamic in nature, you can change the menu to celebrate an occasion.
Let’s say one of your patrons is celebrating their birthday at your restaurant, make them feel special by renaming a dish on their name. Or, switch up the theme of your digital menu when your favourite football team is playing.
One of the most popular use of dynamic QR Codes however is upgrading the menu on weekends.
3) Phase 3: Analyse and optimize your restaurant’s ordering mechanism
The best campaigns are driven by customer intent. QR Codes unlock the opportunity to gather data and customer insight from your physical space. Here are some insights worth exploring –
Spot the hotspots in your restaurant based on time and day. This helps you optimise resources within the restaurant premises.
Validate the spots that gather maximum eyeballs. For eg, are more people looking at a coaster vs a poster behind the table. This helps you short list the most strategic locations for an important advertisement.
Understand your guest better – gender ratio, devices they use, their income range, age group and more.
Frequently asked questions about QR menus and QR Code menu generators
Do my guests need an app to scan the QR Code menu?
Absolutely not. Apple in 2017 integrated QR Code scanning capabilities with the phone camera. Following this, Android rolled out updates where Google Lens supports QR Code scanning using the phone camera.
Is it free to create QR Code menus using Beaconstac as a generator?
You can sign up for a 14-day free trial and evaluate the features and experience. However, post the trial period, you will have to pick an annual or monthly plan for your QR menus.
Will my digital menu (PDF for instance) download on my consumers’ phone?
The typical behaviour of the Chrome browser is to download a PDF and not open it. Therefore that how all other QR Code menu generators function. However, that’s not the case with Beaconstac’s QR Code menu solution. We upload your digital menus in a way that does not force download a PDF.
How much does it cost to make a QR Code menu for a restaurant?
It costs $60/year to create a QR Code for menus. However, the price varies based on feature requirements and the number of scans you need on an annual basis. The most popular plan for Beaconstac’s QR menu solution is $150/year.
Which is the best QR Code menu generator for restaurants?
Finding the best QR Code menu generator is about finding the right match for your requirements. At Beaconstac, we have built a solution that is simple to work with, provides positive ROI, and provides the best consumer experience
Do you have other questions about QR Code menus? Drop them in the comments below, and I’ll address them as soon as possible.
Other dynamic QR Code hacks for restaurants –
QR Codes on menu cards:
(Not recommended till the COVID curve flattens.)
Incorporate QR codes in your menu card to let users know the nutritional value of each dish and see the images of what their order would look like before placing the order. It is only when you assist customers to make an informed buying decision that you can build a strong bond with your customers.
Customers love watching the chef live in action, more so when their favorite dish is being prepared. Allow users to get a virtual tour of the kitchen or watch the chef preparing their dish while they wait at the table for their food to arrive. A virtual kitchen tour is an excellent way to showcase your hygiene standards, especially in the times of COVID.
Enable mobile ordering with the scan of a QR code:
Enable customers to place their orders right from their smartphone without having to repeat the order to a waiter. With a QR code scan for mobile ordering, customers can also order at the restaurant and have the food delivered at home.
However for this to work, you need an app or a website that supports ordering facilities.
Let users connect to the restaurant WiFi with a QR code scan:
Free WiFi is a massive attraction among the student community. Providing free WiFi alongside good food with just a scan of a QR code is a brilliant way to target the millennial market.
QR codes on restaurant windows and doors :
Deploying QR codes on windows and doors can help you advertise for the upcoming offers even when you are closed.
With the restaurant industry being utterly dependent on the mood of the customers and their in-the-moment decisions on what to eat, building a loyal customer base is a tricky task to accomplish. Although the restaurant marketers have realized that creating a unique selling proposition for the restaurant is the way to go, they are failing to pay attention to one aspect that can change the way restaurants target the customers.
After all, there is only so much you can do to improvise the menu before it becomes the new trend and doesn’t remain unique to your restaurant anymore.
However, one thing that restaurant marketers can do to differentiate themselves is to integrate fascinating multi-purpose technologies like QR codes in their marketing campaigns. Pioneer brands across all industries including the restaurant industry have already tried and tested QR Codes and are currently reaping the benefits in their respective fields.
How can restaurants personalize customer targeting with QR Codes?
There is a simple QR code hack that can help boost your restaurant sales and get your patrons hooked on to your offerings. The trick to making a difference with your QR code marketing is to use the “Dynamic QR codes.”
Dynamic QR codes are the upgraded version of the regular static QR codes with an additional capability of changing the URL linked to the QR code in real-time. Dynamic QR codes also enable you to personalize customer experience based on time, location and days. Personalizing customer experience is a crucial marketing function in the restaurant industry since the restaurants have to constantly update their offerings and services based on changing customer preferences.
Dynamic QR code hacks for your restaurant marketing
One of the issues that marketers have had with QR codes in the past is that once the QR codes have been downloaded and printed, it is not possible to make changes. The dynamic QR codes entered the picture as an attempt to overcome the drawback of the static QR codes. With dynamic QR codes, you can schedule multiple campaigns to the same QR code based on the time of the day or the day of the year. You can also change the campaigns attached to each QR code as and when you update your offers thereby reduce the cost and hassle of having to generate and print new QR codes for each campaign you launch.
#1 QR code campaigns based on the time of the day
Most restaurants have different menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with specific offers attached to each of them. Delivering these offers via dynamic QR code campaigns where the customer scans the same QR code to get a different offer each time is a brilliant way of creating fascination among the customers. Dynamic QR codes are also an excellent way for restaurant owners to get rid of changing menus and offers on chalkboards on a daily basis and replace the chalkboard menu with a scannable QR code based menu instead.
To create aesthetically pleasing pamphlets for your restaurant, try Venngage, a beautiful platform that allows you to create designs within minutes.
#2 QR code campaigns based on the day of the week
Restaurants ideally schedule offers based on the high traffic and low traffic day of the week. For example, a happy hours offer is valid only on a weekday with less traffic so that it helps the restaurant boost its sales on such days. Creating a new QR code campaign for each day to update the offers and menu of the day is a hassle that restaurants can avoid by choosing to opt for a dynamic QR code instead.
Dynamic QR code campaigns also allow restaurateurs to change campaigns based on the target audience for weekdays vs. weekends. For example, a restaurant near a college might get more students over the weekdays but families over the weekends. The campaigns can change based on their tastes and offers tailored for each user segment.
#3 Seasonal and festival based QR code campaigns
With dynamic QR codes, you can deploy the QR codes on your menu or the store-window once and keep changing the menu and offers on the back-end by replacing the URL linked to the QR code.
For example, if the QR code on your menu leads to offers on lemonade or an iced-tea during summers, you can change the URL linked to lead to offers on a hot chocolate drink during the winters.
Another promotional strategy used by most restaurants where dynamic QR codes prove to be useful is during the festival or occasion based offers and discounts on the restaurant menu.
#4 QR code campaigns with flash deals update/ limited period offers
All restaurants have faced situations with unexpectedly low footfall on some days. At times like these, the QR code campaigns that you have already placed on various strategic places can be linked to flash deals/limited period offers in an attempt to increase the footfall.
#5 QR code campaigns to update information
All restaurant marketing strategies involve updating the menu from time to time to keep up with the changing consumption patterns of their patrons. Boost your restaurant sales by keeping your loyal customer base updated on the latest additions to your menu with dynamic QR code campaigns.
#6 Fine-tune QR code campaigns on-the-go
With dynamic QR codes, you can fine-tune your campaigns on-the-go based on the customer analytics data. Continually refining your restaurant marketing campaigns is useful to keep up with the changing trends and customer buying patterns.
How to build dynamic QR Code campaigns?
There are two ways in which you can adapt to change your campaigns for your dynamic QR codes based on which use-case you are looking to implement.
1. Update information: one-time or continuously
Create a new campaign markdown card or URL and replace the existing URL linked to the QR code with the new one.
2. Schedule campaigns for days, time and seasons:
Create a schedule consisting of all the campaigns you wish to circulate and schedule each campaign to a different time/date depending on when you would like to display which campaign. Add the schedule to the QR code so that when the QR code can display a new campaign each time depending on when it is being scanned.
Dynamic QR code campaigns remain an untapped area with great potential in the field of restaurant marketing as a brilliant way to boost restaurant sales. The simple QR code hack of using a dynamic QR code instead of a static QR code in your restaurant marketing campaigns can help to increase the restaurant sales significantly.
I am fascinated by tech-driven marketing. Love to read & write about entrepreneurship and tech-driven business strategies for B2B and B2C companies. Have b(e)acon and eggs for breakfast and always up for doughnuts!
While restaurants are eager to formulate a robust post-crisis plan, the evolving consumer behavior makes this hard to do. In this blog post, I talk about the expected change in consumer behavior and how restaurants can adapt to keep their doors open post-lockdown.