There is a key item that is rapidly vanishing from Aussie restaurants and cafes – and it is leaving many customers absolutely furious.
They were an ubiquitous presence at cafes, restaurants and bars during the pandemic, but love them or loathe them, industry insiders say QR ordering is here to stay. While some expected it to fade away as the pandemic dissolved and check-ins were no longer relevant, the opposite has actually been true.
Not everyone is a fan. In fact, many people appear downright hostile to QR ordering and restaurants and cafe’s not providing physical menus.
Social media is filled with people raging against it.
One person wrote on an angst-ridden Reddit stream that they just “hate it”.
“I hate paying for dinner on my phone,’ the person complained. “I hate navigating through menus to find food.”
Another said they disliked being forced to “give every-f***ing-detail about myself or sign up”, while another observed “having phones out was a terrible way to start dinner together”.
While one person claimed they often go to the counter and refuse to do it or threaten to go elsewhere: “I haven’t had anyone let me leave yet”.
Others pointed out it isn’t practical for some.
“My grandparents never really got onto the smart phones (and with dementia it’s not the time to start) and I have a friend who has fine motor skill issues so he struggles to control the scrolling function that’s required,” one person explained.
“It’s embarrassing for them to have the menu read to them or to have others decide what they have because they can’t use a menu in that format.”
Another noted it was difficult for families with kids with “everyone is fighting over mums phone to see what they can order”.
Despite not all Aussies being a fan of the new system, Square, which provides a range of technology for restaurants and other industries, says QR codes are here to stay saying sellers were increasingly turning to tech to run their business.
“QR code ordering has definitely become mainstream for restaurants,” said Colin Birney, head of business development at Square in Australia.
“As cost-of-doing-business pressures remain and staff shortages continue, restaurants are seeing technology as a non-negotiable and a way to find efficiency gains and unlock new ways to sell.”
Mr Birney said digital menus gives restaurants “more flexibility” to adjust their menus to account for the volatile cost of produce.
The pros and cons
Dr Veronica Jiang, a senior lecturer at the school of marketing at the UNSW Business school, told news.com.au that QR codes offer a range of benefits for food businesses.
These include consumer insights at the click of a button, speed and less human error with orders and an easy payment system.
But there are pitfalls too, particularly for fine dining.
“Fast speed is linked with fast food restaurants,” she said.
“Fine dining or mid-tier restaurants want to position themselves far away from fast food, because that justifies their high prices and because restaurants try to differentiate with good service.”