How can I print QR codes?
QR codes – two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by phone cameras – are used by customers to quickly access a website or social media pages. The mobile giant AliPay has been using QR codes to coordinate payments for ages. But QR codes have recently gained popularity in the hospitality sector, because they apply to contactless ordering like with StoreKit Order & Pay. Scanning the QR code takes you to a published mobile-optimised menu. All you need is a phone (with internet access). This article shows you how you can print and display QR codes in your establishment.
Scroll to the bottom and we’ll tell you how QR Codes make sense in restaurants and how you can use them for your business.
One of your top most aims right now is to maximise throughput safely, while ensuring a great guest experience. If customers are waiting to flag down staff for menus and ordering, they’re slowing down your throughput. Ensure each diner has access to the right QR code – and therefore your menu – by attaching one to each table or are visibly dotted around your venue. They will only scan properly on a flat surface, like a wall or table. This is our design of a table talker menu, but you can experiment with other colours, logos and shapes on a graphic design software like Canva. We’d advise laminating the menu so you can wipe them down frequently.
If you’re in the midst of designing a menu, but not sure what is the most effective, we’ve compiled a list of industry expertise on menu engineering. Read our guide to stellar menus here.
Size and material
You don’t need a special app to read the code, just any smartphone camera (iPhone or Android). But the quality of the camera does vary a lot from phone to phone. Some might cope with very small QR codes but some cameras just wouldn’t read them. When displaying or printing your QR Code we recommend to give your code a size of at least 2 x 2 cm (0.8 x 0.8 inch). Once you’ve printed your QR code, make sure you test, test, test. Try different devices and in a wide range of scenarios. Smooth out any technical faults before you roll in your guests and start using the code to pay.
Metal and plastic
We contacted Emmanuel from Signs and Labels UK to find out more about printing QR codes. The base price depends on the material and size of the engraved surface area. “The more information displayed via the QR code, the more complex the code, the greater the surface area – and the more expensive the printing cost”, says Emmanuel. If you’ve got more content on your code, then increase the size.
“For a restaurant, I’d recommend printing on engraved plastic. Expect to pay double the price for stainless steel engravings. So if a plastic one is £1, a stainless steel one will be at least £2.
“Also, if you print on stainless steel, there’s only one colour option. When you engrave on plastic, there are loads of colours and colour doesn’t affect price,” says Emmanuel.
“We just printed QR codes for a restaurant. Each QR code was 100mm x 100mm and it turned out great. The sign also had a table number and a line of text, ‘Please scan here for menu’.”
This case used black squares and a white background. How do you know that the colour and size is sufficient enough for a good quality sign that is readable? Emmanuel’s answer: test first. “I always test out the code on an example before [batch] production.”
To place an order with Signs and Labels, you need three pieces of information:
1. Size of sign
3. The line of text or URL that the QR code will link to
The website has an interactive QR code creator, where you can input your requirements and get a quote instantly. Just select the QR code icon in the top bar (eighth one along), and change the size in the left hand toolbar. I tested it out using my name, “Georgina”, as the information behind the QR code. For a 100mm x 100mm size QR code printed on engraved plastic, the estimated price for “Georgina” is £6.31. For 20, it’ll cost £126.20. A discount is automatically applied to the bulkier orders. “The discount is usually 10-15%,” says Emmanuel – who is happy to chat bespoke prices over the phone.
QR codes patch themselves up if they’re torn. They have built-in error correction, so up to 30% of the code can be missing and the information is still readable. This is why you might have seen some codes with an image or logo in them, that portion of the code data is corrected by the rest of matrix.
We contacted Tom from Brunel Industrial Engravings for his advice on engraving QR codes onto metal labels. With the shift towards mobile ordering, Brunel Industrial Engravings saw “a great opportunity” to provide merchants with QR code engraving. “We manufacture to order, so we tailor the product design to your needs – our website highlights what can be achieved, but many other things can be done.”
“We’ll assess the premises and make recommendations based on its appearance, such as if the venue already has brass plaques in place, we’d suggest metal labels that are gold in colour. More modern buildings might opt for stainless steel labels.” There are various colour co-ordinations available, so enquire directly for availability and pricing. The company has recently added new colours to the existing gold and silver options: bronze, brush pewter and brush charcoal.
QR coasters look great – here’s a step-by-step guide if you fancy creating your own by hand. Alternatively, this US-based company can print QR codes onto beech wood blocks. Prices start at $12 a piece. Bear in mind that the manufacturing time is 1-2 weeks and it’ll take between 7-14 days to get here from the US.
Domino Printing, a UK-based printers, also have the option of engraving QR codes on wood.
Stickers give the flexibility of attachment on walls, windows and tables. They are water resistant so are ideal if your labels are used in chilled environments or damp locations. They are also non-yellowing so your label colouring remains intact over its lifetime.
We got in contact with Phil from UK provider Data Label, who do a range of stickers from vinyl labels to car window stickers. “For a restaurant, I’d recommend Polypropylene or laminated 3m Polyester labels,” says Phil. Polypropylene is a synthetic material that is weatherproof and waterproof and is both highly durable and resistant to oils, alcohol and chemicals including materials that can cause staining. This means that when you clean the tables with disinfectant, the labels won’t be damaged.
Polyester labels can be fully immersed in water without peeling and they are particularly resistant to scratching and scuffing which makes them ideal for industrial as well as a wide range of other applications.
To print your QR code yourself, first export as an SVG file (Scalable Vector Graphic). This means you can modify it without losing the image’s quality. Open label printing software like Custom QuickLabel and add the QR Code to your label format as a graphic image, or add the image to your label design in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or in any other software you use to design and print labels. Avery UK also do templates for labels, where you can simply download the pre-designed template and personalise it yourself. You could also ask Avery UK to print them for you (use promo code ECO10 to get 10% off).
Stickers are the cheapest option for printing QR codes. A quick google and we found a UK sticker site that charges £61 for 80 vinyl laminated labels.
Edible QR Codes
In 2012, sushi restaurant Moshi Moshi, founded by Caroline Bennett, was the first to trial QR sushi, partnering with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a seafood watch organisation. It was designed to make the supply chain more transparent. The code was printed on rice paper and nori (edible seaweed), using squid ink. This was then placed on top of the fish. When a customer scanned it with their phone, they were directed to a website which showed where the fish came from.
But the idea eventually fell flat. Fabio Ceschel, a graphic designer who has made edible QR codes, tells the Guardian that the printing process is not as sustainable as the message it is hoping to send out. “[A local restaurant owner] could buy their own printer and edible ink, but that in itself would probably set them back at least somewhere in the region of £250-£500.”
What are QR code menus? How do they work?
Each venue has an individual QR code, which you – as the manager – can create. There’s no prior technical knowledge involved. A customer can scan the code to be directed to your digital menu where they click on items, customise their order and then pay. You get notified of the order. The team brings the order to the right table. It’s like ordering meals on Deliveroo or Uber Eats, except diners don’t need to download an app.
If you want to get even smarter with the tech, you can make it so each table or room has a unique QR code, so that when the customer scans it, they are taken to the order page already pre-set with the table ID number.
The order with the table number is sent to a printer or an iPad at the restaurant, which notifies your staff, who can deliver the item specifically to that customer. It’s super quick to upload your menu and convert it into a QR code but it goes a long way in keeping customers and staff safe.
StoreKit Order & Pay uses QR codes
We’ll go into a bit more detail about how to set up QR codes for your table ordering system. Watch how it works.
Set up your venue configuration (so your customers know where in the venue they are sitting and what number to choose when ordering) in the StoreKit app. Upload the number of tables, or rooms.
You can also create an area for groups of tables e.g Beer garden. This will make it easier for staff to know where to deliver orders. It’s possible to take someone to a table-specific menu via a QR-code printer. If you’re planning on having specific QR codes for each table, or area, expect to pay more than if you were looking to print one QR code for your restaurant menu.
StoreKit Order & Pay will generate a special QR code for your business. This is the QR code that patrons will scan in order to access your personalised menu and payment window.
My QR code isn’t working
QR codes connect the offline world with the online world. So you need a stable internet connection. There are a few other reasons why your QR code isn’t working. Here are some tips on troubleshooting.
Don’t invert your QR code colours
While you might prefer the look of the QR code on the right, it’s not guaranteed to work. The background doesn’t have to be white. But don’t invert the colours you’re given; avoid turning a white background with black squares into a black background with white squares. This is because, sometimes, the camera won’t handle the QR code with inverted colours.
Give your QR codes enough contrast
Make sure the camera can pick up the QR code colours; if it’s hazy, especially in dimmer light, the QR code won’t be read. Scaling a code image to bigger sizes without having enough resolution can make your QR Codes look blurry.
Make sure it’s big enough
Both iPhones and Android phones have a built-in QR reader in the camera. But the quality of the camera does vary a lot from phone to phone. Some might cope with very small QR codes but some cameras just wouldn’t read them. When displaying or printing your QR Code we recommend to give your code a size of at least 2 x 2 cm (0.8 x 0.8 inch). If you’ve got more content on your code, then increase the size.
Leave a border space around your QR code
Always leave a space between your QR code and the content or design around it. This space is called the “quiet zone”, and it separates the QR code from any surrounding graphics. This quiet zone is important to keep at least four times the width of the modules (the pixels) within the QR Code, otherwise, it can be difficult for users to scan. Make sure it appears clearly within the screen by moving your device back or forth to adjust the focus.
As we move into a world of no-touch ordering, QR codes are set to become a huge benefit and convenience to businesses and consumers. Let us know if you’re a fan in the comments!
If you’re a pub or restaurant now preparing for a future of socially distanced ordering, SK Takeaway and Order & Pay are designed with you in mind. Hundreds of are signed up already. Give us a call if you need help with getting set up. We’re always on hand for your EPOS advice and hardware advice.
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