Beyond Menus: Creative QR Code Uses for Restaurants

During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes took center stage in the restaurant industry. The technology allowed patrons to bypass physical menus and access digital menus instead, lowering the risk of spreading the virus. 

But QR codes offer much more than a pathway to a menu on our phones. Businesses use the 2D barcode in new, exciting ways every day. For example, Pizza Hut used QR codes to turn pizza boxes into an augmented reality game of Pac-Man, while Chili’s promoted the technology at its restaurants to help raise millions of dollars for cancer research. 

To capitalize on this momentum, here’s how to use QR codes as part of your recipe for creating brand awareness and improving customer experience. 

Spice Up Your Social Media Presence 

Want to connect with your patrons in the digital age? Include social media in your digital marketing strategy. Over half of the world’s population uses social media, interacting with an average of six platforms.

Drive traffic to your restaurant’s social media page by adding QR codes to posters, food packaging, receipts and table tents. Attracting more visitors increases your page's likelihood of gaining more followers, likes, shares and subscribers.

You can create a code for each platform or an all-in-one QR code that links to a landing page listing all platforms. Customers can choose the content they’d like to see before being redirected to their final destination. 

To increase social media mentions, link QR codes to a filter or effect that customers can use on their posts. Customers will feel more encouraged to share their restaurant experiences with their followers. 

Whip Up More Customer Engagement

More than 60 percent of restaurants say their top strategic goal is improving digital customer engagement. QR codes bridge the gap between online and offline customer experiences, offering valuable and necessary information that increases engagement.

When used on promotional materials or in advertisements, QR codes invite diners to immediately engage with your restaurant by linking them to your website or customized landing page. From there, customers can learn more about your business’s history, download recipes or read about upcoming events or menu changes. 

QR codes can also direct customers to download your restaurant’s app. Customers who install a business’s app and opt-in for push notifications feel part of an exclusive club, able to enjoy benefits — like coupons and rewards — not available to anyone not in the club.

Scoop Up Customer Reviews 

Customer feedback plays a critical role in every business, especially in the restaurant industry. Reviews spotlight areas for improvement and ways to serve future customers better. 

Providing a way for diners to leave feedback easily will give your restaurant a competitive edge. Over half of customers use reviews to make a restaurant selection at least 25% of the time. Offer a rating feedback QR code inviting customers to voice their opinion about your food or service and even earn rewards for their review. 

Serve Up a Personalized Customer Experience

The more you personalize your customer experience, the happier your customers. Up the personalization ante by providing QR code ordering. Almost 60 percent of adults expect to use their phones to access key restaurant features, including ordering food — especially if they can access discount coupons. 

QR codes allow guests to personalize their experience and customize their orders without running them by a staff member, resulting in higher order values. Give patrons several payment options when ordering through QR codes.

Another option for personalization? Digitize your loyalty program instead of relying on traditional plastic loyalty cards. QR codes attract new customers by including call-to-action messaging inviting them to scan the code. A simplified experience helps consumers quickly climb the loyalty ladder, easily make repeat orders and receive personalized, valuable rewards.

Dunkin Donuts, for example, uses QR codes as part of its digital loyalty program. To earn points with every purchase, customers scan their DD loyalty ID QR code before paying for their order. This innovative feature ensures customers maximize the DD Perks program while fueling digital growth. 

Nearly 90 percent of smartphone users will scan a QR code by the end of this year. By embracing this technology beyond digital menus, restaurants can truly savor the benefits of attracting new customers, gaining loyalty, increasing sales and building customer engagement past the confines of a dining table.