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How do QR Codes Work?

QR codes—smartphone-readable barcodes—are everywhere. You’ve likely seen them on medical bracelets at doctor’s offices, on bus stop walls, and even on event posters stapled to telephone poles. Essentially, QR codes are becoming the new normal for quick information transfers.

Perhaps where QR codes are making their biggest appearance are restaurants and establishments with contactless ordering. The integration of QR codes in restaurants allowed businesses to not only stay afloat this past year but also keep their employees and guests safe.

How did QR codes help?

As people started dining out again, QR codes allowed customers to order and pay for their meals without touching a menu or coming into contact with staff. They took a lot of work off the hands of restaurant staff, too.

But how do they work, exactly?

What is a QR Code?

QR, or Quick Response, codes that touchless technology customers can use on their personal smartphones. The barcode, which looks like a matrix of lines and shapes, looks and acts a lot like a barcode would on your favorite bag of chips at the grocery store.

To scan the code, all customers need to do is open the camera on their mobile phone and focus the phone’s camera on the code. A link that delivers customers to a business’s website or offerings will show up at the top of the phone screen. (Customers don’t need to take a picture, the camera will automatically recognize the QR code.)

The QR code, once set up, can be linked to anything and can be changed at any time to easily update menus or adapt to any changes in the business. In addition to menus, QR codes can also securely connect consumers to:

  • Digital bills or contactless payment options
  • Online ordering forms
  • Image galleries
  • Social media pages
  • Multimedia advertisements
  • Quizzes or contests

Helpful Hint: If a phone is having trouble processing the QR code, you can head to the app store and download one of the QR reader apps available.

How to Make QR Codes Work For You​

No matter your restaurant’s location or food selection, QR codes can work for virtually any business. When deciding how to set up your QR code, it may be helpful to consider your restaurant’s current needs.

  • Takeout-only – If you and your staff prefer to stay contactless and provide takeout-only orders, place QR codes at the front of the restaurant for customers to find the menu, place their orders, and digitally pay.
  • Waitlist-needed – If your restaurant is experiencing down-the-block lines, optimize your QR code generator to provide a waitlist or allow customers to check in for their reservations. Position the QR code in the front window or at the host stand for easy access to the customers mobile device. This is an easy way to communicate with customers without clogging the front entrance or overwhelming your staff. Giving your customers a sense of control is just the cherry on top.
  • Staff-needed – If your restaurant is short on staff, you’ll need them bussing tables, dropping off meals, and delivering extraordinary customer service. Placing QR codes at dining tables puts customers in the driving seat: they’ll be able to order, pay, and get their receipt in just a few clicks.

No matter your needs, QR codes provide versatility and flexibility. Everything is in one place, allowing for less dining room commotion. You’ll also want to consider additional QR code scanning, including

  • Sharing seasonal deals
  • Expanding your reach with advertisements
  • Providing a forum for customer reviews and feedback

Can QR Codes Break?

Unfortunately, yes. Usually, QR codes are created through a QR code generator. Within these generators, business owners can customize their data to direct customers to specific online pages and designs.

A typo within the bar code can essentially render the barcode useless. Before printing out 50 tableside barcodes, test the QR codes on multiple devices and apps to ensure they’re working properly. If your code is not working on customer phones, there are a variety of troubleshooting options you can try:

  • Increase the color contrast of your codes to make them stand out
  • Ensure that the codes are not blurry or fuzzy from spilled drinks
  • Make sure the codes are large enough to be readable
  • Don’t pack your QR code with too much content

When the interface is easy to navigate and your staff is well trained it improves the dining experience for everyone.

The good news is that most QR codes are secure and private and in no danger of leaking customer information, such as banking accounts, credit card numbers, or emails.

contactless menu

Streamline Your Service with GoTab

The best way to make your customer’s experience a great one is to implement a QR code that provides an effortless and contactless dining experience, and addresses your business’s needs. With GoTab at your fingertips, we can help you simplify your restaurant with customizable menus and mobile payment options.

QR codes are the way of the future. Request a demo with us today to see how a streamlined, low-contact dining experience can help your restaurant grow.


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