Ad Banner
Advertisement by Open Privilege
United States

The QR backlash has won, and restaurants are ditching them for good

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • Diners prefer the tactile experience of paper menus and personal interaction with waitstaff over digital menus.
  • QR codes have not delivered the expected benefits and have, in some cases, negatively impacted revenue.
  • Many restaurants are reverting to paper menus to enhance the dining experience and meet customer expectations.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, QR code menus emerged as a seemingly perfect solution for restaurants. They offered a contactless way for diners to view menus and place orders, addressing concerns about shared surfaces and physical safety. However, as the world moves beyond the pandemic, the initial enthusiasm for QR code menus has waned significantly. Today, many restaurants are abandoning QR codes in favor of traditional paper menus, driven by a combination of customer dissatisfaction and operational challenges.

The Rise and Fall of QR Code Menus

QR codes, originally developed in Japan in the 1990s for tracking automotive parts, found a new purpose during the pandemic. Restaurants quickly adopted them to minimize physical contact and streamline operations. For a time, it seemed like QR codes were here to stay. They offered flexibility, reduced printing costs, and provided a modern touch to the dining experience.

However, the reality of using QR codes in restaurants has proven to be less than ideal. Many restaurants are going back to more analogue selections since a sufficient number of patrons have voiced complaints about scanning for food options. The novelty of QR codes quickly wore off as diners encountered various issues, from small print and poor lighting to the inconvenience of using their phones during meals.

Customer Dissatisfaction

One of the primary reasons for the decline of QR code menus is customer dissatisfaction. Many diners find the process of scanning a QR code and navigating a digital menu cumbersome and disruptive. As Kristen Hawley noted in her article on Expedite, "It’s not that they hate the QR code. It’s that they hate the QR code experience". This sentiment is echoed by many restaurant patrons who prefer the tactile experience of a paper menu and the personal interaction with waitstaff.

Older customers, in particular, have struggled with the technology. Kiran Sodhi, assistant general manager at Veda, an Indian restaurant in Philadelphia, explained, "The older customers didn't like it. Often, they don't have a smartphone or they are not comfortable with the technology". This discomfort has led to a decline in customer satisfaction and, in some cases, a decrease in revenue as diners order less to avoid the hassle of using their phones.

Operational Challenges

From an operational standpoint, QR codes have not delivered the expected benefits. While they were initially seen as a way to reduce the burden on waitstaff, many servers found that the technology did not improve their workflow. On Reddit's TalesFromYourServer page, the majority of commenters expressed a preference for paper menus, both for themselves and their patrons . Servers found it challenging to gauge diners' needs and body language when their attention was focused on their phones.

Moreover, the anticipated cost savings from using QR codes have not always materialized. As reported by Forbes, "As it turns out, diners dislike the process so much that it was actually costing the restaurants money". The decline in customer satisfaction and the resulting impact on revenue have led many restaurants to reconsider the use of QR codes.

The Return to Paper Menus

In response to these challenges, many restaurants are reverting to traditional paper menus. This shift is driven by a desire to enhance the dining experience and meet customer expectations. As the New York Times reported, "Fewer restaurants are creating new QR menus, and about 75 percent of their existing QR codes are essentially dormant". This trend reflects a broader move away from digital solutions that detract from the hospitality experience.

The return to paper menus is not just about nostalgia; it's about providing a more enjoyable and engaging dining experience. Diners appreciate the tactile feel of a paper menu and the opportunity to interact with waitstaff. As one respondent in an Axios poll noted, "Have you ever tried bringing your grandmother to a restaurant and having her order off of an iPhone menu? It is not a pleasant experience".

The backlash against QR code menus highlights the importance of balancing technology with the human elements of dining. While QR codes offered a temporary solution during the pandemic, they have not proven to be a sustainable or popular option for most diners. As restaurants continue to navigate the post-pandemic landscape, the focus is shifting back to creating memorable and enjoyable dining experiences. The return to paper menus is a testament to the enduring value of personal interaction and the simple pleasures of dining out.

Ad Banner
Advertisement by Open Privilege
Retail United States
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 14, 2024 at 4:00:00 PM

How Skims CEO Kim Kardashian overcame problems in retail to achieve success

In the ever-evolving landscape of retail, where many brands struggle to keep their doors open, Skims has emerged as a beacon of innovation...

Retail United States
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 13, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM

How Shein leverages emerging cross-border eCommerce platforms

Shein, a name synonymous with fast fashion, has revolutionized the eCommerce landscape by capitalizing on emerging cross-border platforms. Founded in 2008 and headquartered...

Retail United States
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 13, 2024 at 1:00:00 AM

Why Zyn nicotine pouches are hard to find in America

The American market has seen a dramatic shift in nicotine consumption, with Zyn nicotine pouches emerging as a popular alternative to traditional tobacco...

Retail United States
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 13, 2024 at 12:30:00 AM

How Target’s supply-chain chief leveraged stores to revolutionize online fulfillment

Target has emerged as a leader by ingeniously transforming its brick-and-mortar stores into powerful fulfillment hubs. This strategic pivot, driven by Target's supply-chain...

Retail United States
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 12, 2024 at 3:30:00 AM

Johnson & Johnson's $6.48 billion talcum powder settlement: Consent judgments filed

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been at the center of a legal storm for years, facing tens of thousands of lawsuits over its...

Retail United States
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 11, 2024 at 5:30:00 PM

Krispy Kreme introduces four exciting new doughnut dot flavors

Krispy Kreme, the iconic doughnut brand known for its delectable sweet treats, has once again captured the hearts of dessert lovers with the...

Retail Europe
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 11, 2024 at 9:00:00 AM

LVMH's Dior unit under judicial control in Italy amid labor exploitation scandal

A Milan court has placed an Italian subsidiary of LVMH, which manufactures Dior-branded handbags, under judicial administration. This decision follows a thorough investigation...

Retail Europe
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 6, 2024 at 7:30:00 PM

Can food-to-go drive growth in grocery retail?

The food-to-go segment has undergone significant changes in recent years, influenced by the pandemic, high inflation, and shifting consumer preferences. As professionals return...

Dining Singapore
Image Credits: Unsplash
DiningJune 5, 2024 at 2:00:00 PM

Additional tickets available for Chick-fil-A pop-up event on June 6

The excitement surrounding Chick-fil-A's first-ever pop-up event in Asia has reached fever pitch in Singapore. The American fast-food giant, renowned for its Original...

Retail Europe
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 4, 2024 at 1:00:00 PM

U.K. retail sales show modest recovery in May

The retail sector in the United Kingdom experienced a modest rebound in May, as reported by the latest BRC-KPMG sales monitor. This slight...

Retail Malaysia
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailJune 3, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM

Challenges in the retail sector forecast would put pressure on Padini

Padini Holdings Bhd, a prominent player in Malaysia's retail sector, is bracing for a challenging period ahead. The company, known for its diverse...

Retail Singapore
Image Credits: Unsplash
RetailMay 31, 2024 at 11:30:00 AM

Chick-fil-A's first Asian pop-up event to debut in Singapore this June

Singaporeans are in for a treat this June as the renowned American fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, makes its first foray into the Asian...

Ad Banner
Advertisement by Open Privilege
Load More
Ad Banner
Advertisement by Open Privilege