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‘I Hate QR Code Menus’ and 9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

Breaking news: Some customers now assert, “I hate QR code menus!” whenever they dine at restaurants adopting this tech-based ordering approach.

This unified claim may cause the downfall of the digital menu, although it was an essential tool during the global health crisis approximately three years ago.

But an analysis from Eater revealed that 78% of customers preferred and actually enjoyed QR code-powered menus when ordering.

And while QR code menus have provided advantages to the hospitality industry, it’s also equally important to note that not all of your customers love the idea of constantly pulling out their phones while trying to get a decent meal for the day.

It then pays to ask: Is it smart to invest in this digital solution? Or is it high time we ditch QR codes for good?

Recent QR code menu news: Are restaurants opting out?

QR code news
Man reading online news on a tablet

QR codes offer the best solution for the hospitality industry during and post-contact-free world: digitized menu access, contactless payment, cashless tipping, menu translation, and more.

However, recent articles reveal that the matrix barcode technology has faced its decline after governments across the globe lifted health restrictions.

For one, Business Insider published an article stating that QR code menus for restaurants are becoming a relic of the pandemic.

Grace Mayer—the article’s author—revealed that restaurant owners are switching back to physical menus since customers prefer them over the ones with QR codes.

A New York Times article published in May 2023 also claimed that restaurant owners still consistently use QR codes, but there’s a decline in usage.

But here’s the thing: the hospitality industry-related sites proved contrasting news.

An article from Restaurant Technology News and Eater stated that 78% of customers still prefer ordering and paying through QR codes and other technology.

As a result, restaurant owners continued to use QR codes to facilitate contactless ordering and payment, streamline workflow, and gather customer insights.

I hate QR code menus: The customers’ perspective

I hate QR code menu
Customer refused to use a smart menu

Your target customers’ testimonials matter. So, we gathered the most common reasons diners no longer want to see QR codes on the table. Here’s what we got:

Antithesis of dining etiquette

Basic dining etiquette taught us to keep our phones away. This helps us avoid distractions, enjoy the food better, and engage in small talk or deep conversations while eating.

But with a restaurant QR code menu, it’s the total opposite.

In one of his trending videos, bartender and TikTok influencer Conner Kochansky revealed how customers dislike looking at their phones to check what they’re going to eat or drink.

Some customers still prefer to use a reused or recycled paper menu as it’s part of the dining experience everyone has gotten used to.

They get to keep their phones away and enjoy having a good chat with the waitstaff.

Non-inclusive to customers of old age

It’s no longer surprising to hear customers from the older demographic say, “I hate digital menus” whenever they see one or when staff hands them one.

This is because they are most affected by this technological shift in dining.

A Statista analysis published in 2019 showed that about 43% of US customers are aged 50 and above.

This growing customer demographic still relies on paper menus and adores talking one-on-one with restaurant staff to inquire about or customize their orders.

Reduces customer data privacy

Some customers see data acquisition out of scanning a food menu QR code as a threat to their privacy.

Business Insider’s Reddit community strongly agrees that QR codes are a massive security risk. Some users and Redditors believe that the personal information stored on their phones is easily hackable once they scan the QR codes.

I hate QR code menus. That’s it.

It’s time to face the truth: We cannot please all our customers.

There are just people who despise technology of any form. And there’s very little you can do about it as a business owner who leverages tech-based tools.

Whether you offer them a QR code as a menu for convenient ordering or a digital solution to process their bill, tech-opposing customers will still refuse to use these advancements. They will stick to the traditional assisted or self serve ordering and payment systems.

That means they still love to wait in long queues, scan through pages of menus, and communicate their orders with waitstaff—no matter how long it takes.

Poses the need for internet

Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic shared how inconvenient QR-coded menus are in his October 2022 article. 

He stated that having QR code menus for restaurants was distracting to mind his phone’s battery percentage and internet availability when presented with the QR code digital menu.

Plus, it is an additional headache for customers from the older demographic to worry about not having a decent WiFi or stable mobile data connection whenever they dine at restaurants.

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9 reasons why QR code restaurant menus are here to stay

Your customers’ point of view is valid. But while there is truth behind every testimonial and sentiment, we cannot disregard the pros of using a smart menu.

Here are 9 benefits of using QR codes for your hospitality business operations:

Contactless ordering and payment

QR code-powered menus reduce your customers’ contact with physical menus, staff, and other customers. This restaurant contactless ordering system benefits both your customers and your employees.

Through smart menus, customers can explore your offerings with their phones. There’s no need to use a recycled printed menu that people have passed on from one another and then back to the staff.

And while some customers claim that it negates the whole point of dining etiquette, they still cannot disregard the fact that digital menus offer safety and hygiene.

Reduced wait times and higher table turnover

A QR code restaurant menu can minimize time spent waiting in long lines or getting the waitstaff’s attention through hand signals. Ultimately, this also fosters quicker workflow and operations.

Since the digital system streamlines the ordering and payment process, your staff can immediately provide the food and service to your customers.

And when customers get served quickly, your table turnover rate will also increase;  you can serve more customers in the given period, which means more sales.

Editable digital menu

One of the best benefits of a QR code menu that makes it superior to a printed one is that it offers editability.

Editing menu QR code
Restaurateur editing a digital menu using laptop

Think about it: If there are changes to your prices, you’ll have a hard time updating your menu had it been printed. It can also be frustrating when customers order something only for your staff to tell them it’s unavailable.

But if it’s digital, all you have to do is open the online software and change these details outright.

You can ensure customers get the most up-to-date information about your prices, new menu items, bestsellers, and availability.

This feature lets you offer seasonal dishes or daily specials, cater to your customers’ dietary preferences, and perform A/B testing with your menu offerings.

Increased order accuracy

Compared to printed menus, a smart menu displays complete details about your offerings and allows diners to customize their orders.

The menu item details include high-quality images and descriptions of the drinks and dishes. A visual representation like this helps your customers clearly understand what they’re ordering, minimizing the chances of misunderstandings and errors.

They can also customize their orders according to their dietary restrictions and preferences. The smart menu will allow them to add instructions and modification options.

Boosted visual branding with QR code menus

You can customize your QR codes to match your restaurant branding ideas and strategies. 

Using a digital menu maker, you can personalize your QR code’s colors, select a typeface for your call-to-action, and add other creative elements like logos.

For instance, a Mexican restaurant could display a QR code with bright colors and bold typography to showcase a festive and inviting atmosphere.

If you own a fine dining restaurant, you could use a QR code with an elegant typeface and a classy logo to add to the sophisticated and luxurious experience.

A fast-casual restaurant could also integrate a QR code with a simple, streamlined design to create a clean and modern look.

Helps implement marketing strategies

Your QR-coded menus are more than just a menu. We wouldn’t call them smart menus for nothing.

You see, despite the recent QR code news, this tech tool will help you implement marketing strategies and boost your business in numerous ways. Here’s how:

  • Offer promotions and discounts. Let’s say you’ve got some delicious seasonal specials or killer promotions happening. With a digital menu QR code, you can easily update it to showcase these limited-time offers. It’s like having a virtual billboard for your deals.

  • Create and manage loyalty programs. Think of QR codes as your best bud for running promos. Whenever your customers scan your menu QR code and place an order, you can shower them with points. When they rack up enough points, they can unlock incredible rewards such as a complimentary meal or a discount on their next order.

  • Recommend upsells and cross-sells. You can use smart menus to suggest yummy extras based on what your customers love. So, when someone scans your menu and picks a burger, you can nudge them with an automated call-to-action. Here’s an example: “Hey, how about adding some fries and a drink to make it a complete feast?”

  • Collect customer feedback. Here’s another trick: Display QR codes on your table tents or menus to redirect customers to your digital feedback form. Your customers can immediately rate their experience, from the food and service to the ambiance. Or they could even type in “I hate QR code menus, so please ditch them!” directly through your digital questionnaires or survey.

Provides access to valuable insights

Yes, you can use QR codes to gather customer information. But in contrast to popular belief, it’s not automatic.

Once scanned, your customers will get to a permission page asking their permission to access their information, such as email, age, and location.

QR code menu statistics
Restaurateur viewing business analytics through MENU TIGER

Using a QR code restaurant menu ordering tool not only makes managing orders more efficient but also provides restaurants with valuable insights to improve operations and enhance the customer experience.

It’s like having a secret tool that helps restaurants understand their customers better by providing answers to the following:

  • Which of your promotions or deals do your customers love, and which ones are they not too excited about?
  • When is your business buzzing with customers, and when is it slower?
  • What dishes are super popular, and which ones don’t sell so much?

All these customer behavior data help you strategize your business operations.

Pro-customer service

Article writers and customers should not be so quick to say, “I hate QR code menus.”

Even though the pandemic has come and gone, which allowed restaurants to operate as usual, it is still undoubtedly true that this digital solution still brings massive benefits.

It offers top-tier convenience, a detailed menu offering information, multilingual translations for tourists, updated menu offerings, and streamlined restaurant operations. 

This helps create a speedy service like no other, resulting in a higher customer satisfaction rate.

In a business journal published by Rajput and Gahfoor in 2020, results showed that customer satisfaction is gravely affected by the quality and speed of service.

And the better your service quality, the higher your chances of getting customer revisits and foot traffic.

Flexible for different businesses

Business owners in the food and hospitality industry only have one goal: To provide outstanding customer service to build a strong reputation and keep people coming back.

The QR code smart menu is the ideal tool for achieving this objective. Whether you’re managing a restaurant, hotel, bar, cafe, or food truck, this innovation can bring you advantages that will optimize your management and operations.

“QR code menus are the death of civilization”—well, not really

QR code menu for payment
Customers ordering and paying through smart menus

People’s testimonials about the QR code menu claim that it poses a threat to civilization.

Even some of your customers might believe that smart menus undermine their dining experience and make it impersonal. There’s less interaction with the waitstaff or even the person they’re with.

Some may even think this ultimately leads to humanity’s reliance on technology.

Despite the astronomical dislike of smart menus (mainly from the older demographics), a recent QR code forecast revealed that QR codes are here to stay—especially for the hospitality industry.

A tool as customer-centric as smart menus, one cannot ascertain that QR code menus are the death of civilization.

In fact, because of its advanced capacity, 88% of restaurant owners now want to ditch physical menus and switch to digital ones (Wakefield Research).

It’s also important to note that out of 2,500 US customers, 51% said browsing a menu through QR codes increases their satisfaction with the service (PYMNTS).

QR code expert and MENU TIGER CEO Benjamin Claeys strongly believes that smart menus and print menus should go hand in hand.

“When we built MENU TIGER, the goal wasn’t really to replace paper menus entirely, but rather to augment the dining experience with an option to order and transact digitally and have faster delivery,” Claeys said in a statement to the New York Times.

With all these QR code menu news on the rise and the data of increasing QR code usage, there’s a clear divide regarding how people really perceive QR codes on their menus.

The rundown: QR code smart menus are here to stay

Love them or hate them, but QR code menus are here to stay. The growing statistics of users can prove that.

While some customers strongly disagree with this, we cannot completely disregard the fact that smart menus benefit the business owner, the employees, and the customers altogether.

If your target audience falls under the older demographic, then there might be a need for you to strategize and handle negative online reviews about the technology.

Here’s what you can do: look for high-quality digital menu software and integrate that into your business. People’s negative input comes from bad experiences, so you have to ensure that you provide them with the best tool using the best tool.

Check out MENU TIGER software, create an account for free, offer the service to your customers, and see if they’ll scream I hate QR code menus or the other way around.


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