Will physical menus ever make a comeback?
In days gone by, staring at your phone in a restaurant was a pretty impolite thing to do. But these days, especially with the societal changes brought about by the pandemic, its part and parcel of the dining experience. In fact, it seems like a much more social alternative to plastic-shield wearing waiters.
Various international bodies for disease control and prevention have recommended that hospitality premises use disposable or digital menus to limit the spread of COVID-19. This advice has been noted by both customers and venues alike who are committed to mobile ordering. Digital menus are increasingly – if not completely – commonplace.
Mobile ordering systems are providing technological replacements to the traditional paper menus, and this trend is set to continue. For many of us, the thought of touching a physical menu in 2021 makes us wince. Here’s how mobile has dominated the ordering landscape, and why physical menus might never make a comeback...
QR Codes Have Changed The Game
With QR codes now, customers don’t even need to download an app or inconvenience themselves by moving away from their seat to grab a grubby menu from the bar.
One aspect that mobile ordering services are utilising as a method to eliminate shared menus which could spread the virus between customers are QR codes, which use a scannable design of black and white squares. This unique code, when scanned using your smartphone’s camera, opens up a link to a restaurant’s menu page.
This technology is seeing somewhat of a comeback since the mid-2010s and has various benefits. Not only are they super hygienic, but they actually make the customer experience a lot better.
The Benefits Of QR Codes Aside From Safety
- QR codes are inherently simple and can be used in the form of a simple laminated stand on tables, or even to facilitate a comprehensive contactless ordering system.
- On top of this, digital menus using QR codes offer more flexibility for businesses needing to change their offering.
- Digital menus are readily updated and can quickly accommodate to remove a sold out dish or a new extra.
- It’s now easy to customise your menu with modifiers and preferences so that customers can order what they want, exactly how they want it.
- Another huge benefit is that the integrated technology in mobile ordering systems gives scope to analyze menu data which can enhance the experience.
- QR code menus can be spruced up with visual graphics and can include coupon codes to boost cart value.
- Lastly, digital menus help to reduce costs and waste - physical menus no longer need to be printed and replaced. This is great for the environment.
QR codes are fitting a niche in this sanitation-concerned world. But will they survive in a post-pandemic society?
It seems highly likely that touchless menus are here for the long haul. They existed before the pandemic, and are only likely to increase. They are an example of a newly-emerging phenomenon of ‘phygital experiences’. These are experiences in which technology and traditional physical experiences blend seamlessly to perform everyday tasks. They become immersive in their simplicity and convenience.
Take a kiosk as an example of ‘phygital’. Kiosks appear in airports, banks and restaurants and almost everyone can claim to have used one. They’re so widespread that most people won’t have considered that they’re having ‘phygital’ experiences.
Phygital experiences in a post-COVID world
The continued and increased existence of these kinds of ‘phygital’ technologies is undisputed. And it will likely permeate further into the world of dining. Whilst physical menus may not disappear totally, they are destined to play second fiddle to ‘phygital’ menus.
‘Phygital’ menus aim to bridge the relationship between a human user and the dining institution so that the experience becomes so effortless the customer doesn’t even realise how much easier the process has become.
The future of ‘phygital’ menus includes advanced anticipation models, like the ones already in place on Netflix, where preferences are sussed out in advance. In this sense, the physical paper menu has already been left behind.