Canadian Pizza Magazine

marketing insights: Cracking the code

Michelle Brisebois   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Ideas for integrating QR codes into your restaurant

You’ve all seen them, those square scroll images that look like Grecian symbols.

You’ve all seen them, those square scroll images that look like Grecian symbols. By now, most businesses are aware of quick response (QR) codes and some are even adding them to billboards, advertisements and other print media. Technology is advancing so quickly that we’re almost becoming immune to the latest gizmo or gadget but while QR codes may be the flavour of the week, the question remains . . . do they help generate revenue?

These 2-D barcodes, which can be scanned by smartphones, were created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994 for tracking vehicle parts. When a code is scanned or when a smartphone snaps a picture of one, these barcodes allow businesses to interact with the consumer. QR codes can contain a link that automatically takes the consumer to a website, a YouTube video, contact information, an event or a product information sheet. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could lovingly describe your hand-tossed dough process to a customer or wondering how to give your customers a peek into the back of house, here’s your chance. Best of all, these experiences are free and relatively easy to create. Simply upload your video, PDF or image to a website and copy the URL into a QR code generator. If the URL is a long one, paste it into a URL shortener such as before plugging it into the QR code generator. Then download the created QR code and have it printed on your menu, pizza box, ad or other signage. QR code-generating sites include Kaywa, Qurify and Delivr; all are free and easy to use.

Here are some ideas for using this technology in the restaurant industry.


Lowering perception of wait time
If people are lining up at your order counter or seated at a table, QR codes can provide content to keep them entertained. Link the codes to YouTube videos in which you describe menu items that may increase cheque averages, such as desserts and beverages. 

You can put QR codes on anything that’s anywhere consumers will be waiting to be served. Print a code on a T-stand sign next to the lineup or on menus or table tents.

Interviews with the pizzaiolo
Reveal the genius behind each menu item by having your main pizza maker describe where he or she gets their ingredients and where they found inspiration for certain recipes. Create a video that teaches customers how to toss pizza dough like a pro. People love to get a peek behind the curtain into the back of the house, so let them engage in your brand by indulging this whim. 

Place the codes where they will create word-of-mouth buzz. Put them on pizza boxes, advertisements, flyers and coupons. 

Nutrition facts
If you’ve created product data sheets with nutritional breakdowns, QR codes are a great way to make that data easily available to customers. McDonalds in Japan uses them on product packaging to relay nutritional data. The wine industry is already putting QR codes on labels to display wine data sheets, so nutritional data is a logical step. 

Best placement would be menus, pizza boxes and napkins – place the QR code on anything that accompanies the actual meal.

QR codes can link to a coupon that the customer shows on their smartphone to get the discount. Advantages are that it’s traceable and limitless because you don’t have to print a finite amount. You can implement the deal faster without lead times for printing the coupons and it’s better for the environment. If you run out of a limited offer, it can be discontinued at any time.

Place codes anywhere you want to motivate a purchase such as ads or flyers.

Customer surveys
If you want to see how people rate your service and food, create an online survey using a free tool such as Survey Monkey and then link to it via the QR code. Scanning the code is much easier than punching in a web address, so you’re likely to get a better response.

Place the code on anything that’s still near the customer towards the end of the meal, including pizza boxes, napkins and receipts.

Starbucks is using QR code technology to make it possible for coffee lovers to pay with the mobile iPhone app. The customer must punch in their Starbucks card info and verify some details, and then the iPhone app becomes the payment card and a secure QR code is generated. The barista scans the code when it comes time to pay for the coffee.

Try placing codes on advertisements, brochures, cups, packaging and menus – anywhere you want to encourage a transaction.

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She specializes in retail brand strategies.

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