Few weeks back, I did a survey on Twitter about what people prefer- traditional printed menus or the new age QR code version of it. About 8 of the 11 people who voted picked traditional, some even left a reply saying QR codes are painful and annoying as hell. This got me thinking, cos I am divided between the two. So, here goes..

QR code menus have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. They offer a number of advantages over traditional printed menus, but there are also some potential drawbacks. Most restaurants have a small standee on the table with the QR code printed on it that a staff member requests you to scan so you can see what they offer and then place the order. While it requires us to pick up the phone, scan and struggle with a website that we need to surf, page by page. Sometimes by mistake we press the back button or exit the page, which means we need to redo the entire process. And then ofcourse there are seniors and others who arent that comfortable with doing these actions, who lose patience and get frustrated. They just end up calling the waiter and asking them to recommend dishes. 

Advantages of QR code menus

  • Touchless ordering: QR code menus can help to reduce contact between diners and staff, which can be beneficial for both parties during a pandemic or when other illnesses are circulating.
  • Convenience: QR code menus can be more convenient for diners, as they can access the menu on their own device and place orders at their own pace.
  • Efficiency: QR code menus can help restaurants to improve efficiency by freeing up staff to focus on other tasks, such as serving food and drinks.
  • Sustainability: QR code menus can help restaurants to reduce their environmental impact by reducing paper waste.
  • Marketing opportunities: QR code menus can be used to promote special offers, events, and loyalty programs.

Downside of QR code menus

  • Dependence on technology: QR code menus require diners to have a smartphone or other device with a QR code scanner. This can be a barrier for some customers, especially older adults or people with low incomes.
  • Technical difficulties: QR code menus can be susceptible to technical difficulties, such as broken links or slow loading times. This can frustrate customers and disrupt the dining experience.
  • Accessibility issues: QR code menus can be difficult to use for people with disabilities, such as those who are blind or have low vision.

On the other hand, conventional printed menus are what we have grown up with and used to. We are offered these big or small booklets that run for pages at times, where dishes are sorted based on categories, which we skim through for minutes before picking out what we wish to eat or drink. The main downside to these booklets are sometimes they are torn, have dog ears and at times rates have changed but not mentioned in the booklet and you come to know from the staff. Here go the several advantages and drawbacks of these menus.

Advantages of conventional printed menus

  • Simplicity: Conventional printed menus are simple and easy to use for everyone, regardless of age or technical expertise.
  • Accessibility: Conventional printed menus are accessible to people with disabilities, such as those who are blind or have low vision.
  • Familiarity: Conventional printed menus are familiar and comfortable for many diners.

Downside of conventional printed menus

  • Hygiene: Conventional printed menus can be a source of germs, especially if they are not cleaned regularly.
  • Cost: Conventional printed menus can be expensive to print and replace.
  • Sustainability: Conventional printed menus contribute to paper waste.
  • Changes and updates: Many a times restaurants dont update the menu but instead offer a separate card that contains new dishes or the new menu. It can get confusing! 

In Conclusion:

Both QR code menus and conventional printed menus have their own advantages and disadvantages. The best choice for a restaurant will depend on a number of factors, such as the customer base, the type of restaurant, and the budget.
Restaurants that want to offer a contactless dining experience and appeal to younger, tech-savvy customers may want to consider using QR code menus. However, it is important to make sure that the QR code menus are easy to use and accessible to all customers.

Restaurants that have a large number of older customers or customers with disabilities may want to stick to conventional printed menus. However, it is important to keep the menus clean and sanitized to prevent the spread of germs. Ultimately, the best way to decide which type of menu to use is to consider the needs of your customers and your restaurant’s specific circumstances.

So, what is your pick?


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