QR codes are being used to make contactless payments. Diners have to simply access the menu, and then ordering from your phone.

QR codes have been around since 1994 when a Japanese engineer invented the technology to track car parts more easily. When smartphone use exploded, there was a sudden surge in using these quick response codes.

But the global pandemic took the use of QR codes to a new level. Restaurants were at the forefront of this trend. Soon, diners were scanning in their bill and paying for their meal with their phone. They were also accessing the menus.

The use of QR codes has been steady as restaurants continue to find new and innovative ways to integrate them into their business. 

Here are six other ways restaurants are using them:

No. 1: Interactive Menus

People still love their physical menus. Many customers prefer them over QR codes. The problem with those menus is that space is at a premium. Most of that space is reserved for listing all the food and drinks the restaurant offers. It has come to such an extent, that one does not find many photos of food dishes on a menu.

Scan for menu apps like QR codes can be used to access interactive menus, with far more photos of the dishes, descriptions, nutritional information and even user reviews. It enhances the overall dining experience for the patrons and gives the restaurateur data about customer preferences.

No. 2: Personalisation

Restaurants can also personalise their dining experience by using QR codes to suggest customer-specific dishes based on their past orders. An example would be a vegetarian patron receiving personalised QR codes that suggest vegetarian dishes or offer vegetarian-specific promotions. By incorporating customer data into the technology, restaurants improve the overall dining experience while creating customer loyalty.

No. 3: Social Media Integration

Do you have an upcoming contest or promotion you would like to promote? Social media is a great way to spread the word. QR codes are an easy way to pick up more followers. QR codes can link back to a restaurant's social media page, where followers could then be given discounts. The restaurant's social account would also include upcoming events.

A soccer lover who accesses his favourite restaurant's social media site would receive a discount just by following and then getting details about the restaurant's specials during the upcoming big game.

No. 4: Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail is so old school, right? It is also effective. Research shows around 90 per cent open rate, much higher than click-through rates, according to Predictable Profits. What is the best part of the story? You can incorporate some of the “new school” technology with direct mailing by adding QR codes to the postcards or flyers. It does not have to be just one QR code. Restaurants could have one to access their menus and another one to follow them on their social media sites.

No. 5: Interactive Feedback

Some restaurants give diners an indexed-card-sized survey to fill out after they finish their meal. Others offer a link to a survey at the bottom of the customers' paper bills. Neither option is super convenient for the patron.

On the other hand, diners might be more willing to fill out a survey or provide feedback on menu items or the service if they have quick and easy access to the survey. QR codes could be linked to that, giving restaurant owners real-time data.

No. 6: Sustainability Efforts

Restaurants use an incredible amount of paper for their bills and credit card receipts – according to one estimate, it is 811 million paper bills and receipts printed each year. By accessing menus and paying digitally, restaurants can reduce paper usage. Restaurants can also use QR codes to promote their sustainability efforts, like providing information on their ingredients' origins and suggestions on sustainable food choices.

QR codes have gone from a lightly used tool to an invaluable restaurant resource. How restaurants use them is also evolving, as owners are finding new and innovative ways to improve customer engagement, increase brand awareness, and drive revenue.