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How To Collect Payments With a QR Code Menu [Guide]


Due to the pandemic, restaurants are doing away with physical menus, making it easier to collect payments directly at the table thanks to their newfound love for QR codes.

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Quick response (QR) code menu payments are the option restaurant owners are leaning towards to replace old paper alternatives which don’t suit the current environment.

Eliminating the exchange of cash and cards, QR code payments can drastically improve not only safety measures, but also table turnover. And best of all, they’re super easy to use!

QR Code Payments: Getting Started with Your Digital Menu

how to create a qr code menu
QR code menus can be as simple as a stylish plastic tab on the dining table

A QR code looks like a barcode of sorts: place it outside of the restaurant as well as on each table and forget about replacing your paper menu on a daily basis—forever.

Your QR code can be placed on placards, cardboard, directly on the table, or anywhere really. Most commonly, you will see them on a placard acting as a digital menu for your guests. 

As long as diners have smartphones (and who doesn’t these days?), they can scan QR codes not only to go through menu items, but also to make direct payments.

How Do QR Code Menu Payments Work?

Thanks to recent advancements in financial technology, in-browser payments have become ubiquitous, safe, and extremely reliable. That’s why QR menu payments are so powerful:

  • They allow for immediate payment with close to zero lag or wait times;
  • Your team doesn’t need to be present for payments to go through;
  • Money is processed through a trusted payment processor, and;
  • Guests can choose their own dishes, at their own pace.

A transaction takes place when a guest scans the QR code code menu available on the table with their smartphone’s camera and chooses the appropriate item for their visit.

person paying with qr code menu
Paying with a QR code menu is simple as most people will have their credit card hooked to their phones

While many restaurant owners switched to QR code menus mainly for the purpose of following COVID-19 guidelines, these tools are incredible at turning tables over as well.

Making payments available directly via Quick Response speeds up the process for guests who are usually found waving at the waiter, trying to get their attention to pay.

That’s precious time lost on both ends. Instead of servers bringing the receipt to the table, QR codes allow guests to pay whenever they are ready, offering a better overall experience.

2 Huge Benefits of Allowing Payments via QR Code Menus

Seeing this new wave of technology overtake the restaurant industry can be unsettling, but it’s for good reason… QR code payments offer incredible benefits over their older counterparts:

Benefit 1 of QR Code Payments: Streamline Service & Become More Efficient

By distributing daily menu edits throughout all QR codes available, all you have to do is change the price for each menu item available first thing in the morning and… That’s it!

This grants you more time to focus on what truly matters: preparing for rush hour and delivering amazing dishes to an onslaught of hungry guests throughout the day.

Benefit 2 of QR Code Payments: Increase Table Turnover Rates

Using QR menu code payments leads to quicker table turns. Waitstaff don’t have to bring the checks to the tables so once a guest is done they can just pay and leave. 

Depending on how you set up your payments structure, guests can also pay in advance, making the whole process of ordering food a breeze on both ends and avoiding in-app service fees.

Of course, all QR code menus enjoy the benefits that we’ve come to appreciate in the days of COVID-19, minimizing the amount of times waiters have to go to a specific table.

Thanks to their contactless experience, QR codes allow for easy sanitization and cleanup. And best of all, guests can bookmark the URL and order directly from home…

(i.e. no more annoying GrubHub fees!)

How To Set Up Your QR Code Menu Payments

The good news is that even if you aren’t tech-savvy, QR code menu payments are still easy to use. They do not require complicated steps for either the restaurant or the guests. 

Here are 2 options on how to set up your QR code payments the right way:

Payment Option 1: Bespoke QR Code Menu + Low-Fee Payment Processor

You’ve seen it with GrubHub, Uber Eats, and all other takeaway providers: third-party options are expensive, and they try to take away as much of your profits as they can.

Sure, they’re the easiest to set up, but they’re designed to be that way, so that they can “hide” all the complex stuff that goes behind processing payments to capture more of your profits.

The alternative to that?

Getting your own bespoke QR code menu.

With the absence of physical menus, you might be missing the element of style that your restaurant once had. The best way to recoup that is with a bespoke QR code design.

hamburger world restaurant qr code menu banner sample 2
You can offer multiple payment gateways like Paypal or Venmo

Using a personalized service to create a custom QR code menu will not only help your restaurant stand out but also allow for lower payment processing fees.

With payment processors such as Stripe or Venmo taking only about 3% of all transactions, it’s easy to see why many restaurants are switching to their own ways of handling takeout orders.

The problem is that, especially during the pandemic, takeaway services like GrubHub and Uber Eats have exploded in use, only to have their fees raised even higher.

That’s just not fair, and it leads to you losing money.

And the same goes with QR generators.

By creating your own, proprietary QR code menu, you’re not risking any of that. And while it may take a bit longer and cost you a bit more at the start, it pays off in the long-term.

Payment Option 2: QR Code Menu Generator + Integrated High Fees

The second option is a popular one, and for good reason. It’s “easy” to get started with a QR code generator because of their templated nature, but they’re not always the best option.

Benefits of using QR generators over creating your proprietary menu are:

  • QR codes are stored in one place and can be swapped around easily;
  • Templates allow you to get started really quickly with your menu, and;
  • Menu payment apps can be downloaded by your guests for quick payment.

Unfortunately though, you can never tell where the benefits end… 

That’s because companies offering QR code menus essentially try to replace what you’d be saving in paper and set “scan limits” + payment fees on top of your QR codes.

tabletop qr code menu card for restaurants
A bespoke QR code menu can deliver value for years to come

This is nothing more than a business tactic. A scan is essentially just one visit to your webpage which costs you less than a fraction of a penny in the grand scheme of things.

But the bigger problem is with payment fees…

You should steer clear of any app offering integrated payments.

Instead, you want to use payment processors that have a reputation for sticking to their fee structure. Stripe is the best example but Venmo seems to be going in that direction as well.

While some QR code menu generators do offer Stripe and Venmo as options, creating a design that sticks to your branding guidelines becomes a chore. 

In the end, the choice is up to you:

  1. Request a free quote on a bespoke design that’s yours forever, or;
  2. Get started with a QR generator and figure it out along the way.

Both options have their pros and their cons. The good thing is that both have the best interest of your diners in mind, offering premium QR experiences that move the industry forward.

Don’t Wait for Payments to “Wave” at Your Restaurant

Whatever your preferences as a restaurant owner, it’s hard to deny the benefits that QR code menus bring to the table, including fast and easy payments that turn your tables 2x faster.

In today’s fast-paced restaurant industry, you can either wait for payments to “wave” at you and get back to them ASAP, or you can make it easier for guests to just pay and leave.

The difference this makes is astounding:

  • Table turnover rates can increase 2x in just a few weeks
  • Editing your daily menus becomes a breeze overnight
  • Your payments are secured with only tiny fees

Plus, guests now expect restaurants to offer a certain level of service, meaning that they’re unwilling to spend their money in places that can’t offer as fast of a service as others.

Try to think back to when you had to edit paper menus daily, prices and payments included. Is that something you wish to keep doing for the entire lifecycle of your restaurant? 

If no is the answer, QR code menus are your best bet.

Originally published Nov 30 2020

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get my menu on a QR code?

You have two options here: 1) use a QR code generator and figure out the design yourself (dozens of hours spent in front of a screen!), or; 2) let a professional QR menu designer handle the work for you with menu designs meant to convert prospects into customers.

Can you use QR menus to order food?

Yes. In fact, QR code menus are great to collect payments. We explain how you can do this in the blog post but, as a heads up, you want to avoid any all-in-one services because of high fees.

How much does a QR code menu cost?

It depends. The QR code itself can cost you close to nothing (slap a QR code on a piece of paper and you’re done) but the menu, if done well, will run you a few hundred dollars in either case explained in the first FAQ: 1) QR code generator with a flat fee plus time spent designing, and; 2) a professional QR menu designer who will charge you anywhere from $250 to $2500 for a menu.

Are there any payment fees for QR menus?

It depends. To get your QR code menu up, generators will usually have monthly and commision-based fees (hence why we don’t recommend using them). To collect payments with a QR code menu instead, make sure you choose a trusted payment gateway like Stripe.

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