The pandemic has redefined how we live, work and play. Changes in consumer behaviors over the last 15 months have forced brands across industries to rethink how they do business and serve customer, and many of those changes will last even beyond COVID-19. In the restaurant industry, we’ve seen a huge growth in the use of QR codes, enabling customers to easily access digital food and drink menus on their mobile devices. As restaurants and retailers continue to look for ways to safely serve customers, millions of customers are already using their smartphones to view menus, order, and pay for food, beverage, and other items with a quick scan of a QR code. While QR codes as a technology has been around for well over a decade, in 2020, it became “the new normal.”
Welcome to the rebirth of the QR code.
The QR code—a scannable two-dimensional digital code—originally debuted in the 1990s in Japan, used to offer “high speed reading” in the automobile industry in various departments, from production to shipping. With its growing success in providing myriad benefits in the field of technology, QR codes caught on globally.
In the late 2000s, QR codes (QR stands for “Quick Reading”) became integrated in our Smartphones and served various purposes through its evolving timeline. With the QR code, users could read advertisements or information from their favorite brands, and later, they could access live events and venues, such as concerts and attractions, with a QR code scan rather than providing a physical paper ticket.
More recent advancements allowed Smartphone cameras to instantly scan QR codes (versus having to download a third-party app), and the introduction of Web 2.0 extended QR code capabilities, allowing them to utilize full-featured websites without the need for custom-built mobile apps.
Now, the QR code is experiencing its most notable incarnation as a contactless payment and mobile ordering method, allowing customers the instant gratification and convenience of accessing menus, ordering, and paying through their Smartphones. In the current climate, both operators and consumers alike find QR codes not only essential, but also practical, thanks to its seamless functionality, accessibility, and ease of use—and of course, ability to provide safe and convenient transactions, checkouts, and fulfillment.
While QR codes have become a growing solution in the current climate, and most businesses have adapted, the QR code technology continues to evolve — and the “location aware” capability is the latest advancement operators are now seeking to significantly improve the guest experience.
A location aware QR code provides the unique location information with each scan. Location identifiers contained in the QR code can include — and are not limited to — a table number, parking space, or seat at any business, whether a restaurant, stadium, marketplace, or event venue. The location-aware QR code technology lets both waitstaff and the kitchen know the specific location linked to a customer’s order, conveniently tracking where orders are placed to analyze traffic flow.
For instance, this past summer, Live Nation offered “Live At The Drive In,” an outdoor, socially distanced concert series where guests could enjoy live entertainment from the comfort of their own designated tailgate space (which included a respective parking spot). For the concert series, Appetize integrated location aware QR code signs spaced throughout the venue, and guests could scan the code with their phone to order food and beverage. Each scan signaled to the Live Nation staff the exact location/tailgate space the guest ordered from, allowing staff to deliver orders directly to them.
Location Aware QR codes streamline the ordering process and offer more convenience, safety, and satisfaction for both staff and customers alike. Businesses are quickly integrating location aware QR codes to elevate the ordering experience in various models, from virtual kiosk and virtual drive-thru to grab-n-go.
According to a recent report by Mercator North American Payment Insights, 13% of consumers used QR codes on their smartphones prior to the pandemic, and an additional 11% consumers have used the technology since. Further, 34% of those who were already using this payment technology reported using it more since March 2020.
The demand for QR codes has been extraordinary, and the concept of ordering with a scan is becoming an expectation. In fact, restaurants, bars, theme parks and retail chains have rediscovered and retooled the QR code to successfully thrive by supporting less cash and more frictionless ordering.
It’s the reason you see QR codes everywhere, whether signage outside restaurant entrances, placed on outdoor dining tables or gracing stadium concession stands. Businesses have quickly adapted, and many restaurant groups (such as Sweetgreen and Blue Bottle) only allow ordering via QR code scanning. Simply put, QR codes are the best solution for social distancing and safety measures, and “location aware” QR codes further improve customer and staff experiences.
For more information on location aware QR Codes, available to use through our advanced Interact Web platform, click here.