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3 Reasons Breweries are Turning to QR Codes

Over the last decade, the brewery/micro-brewery scene has exploded. In general, these venues have a larger capacity than a traditional bar or restaurant, and make use of the amount of space they have with picnic tables, casual games, and food trucks. The combination is a perfect scene for customers looking to enjoy a day outside with friends, while sipping a cold beer.

But the typical layout of one of these venues presents new challenges for giving customers a premium experience. We surveyed over 500 breweries from across the midwest and east coast and found out why more and more are utilizing QR codes as a way for customers to order and pay for their drinks. The typical flow is that the customer can order and pay for a beer from a QR code on their table, in the bathroom, or anywhere around the venue, the order prints/is received at the bar, the order is prepared by the bartender, and the customer is notified when the order is ready to be picked up. There are different ways to master this process, but overall there are 3 main reasons why QR codes might make sense for your brewery!

1. Customer Convenience

According to our survey, nearly half of all respondents (45%) had a capacity of more than 250 people:

Yet the large majority of all respondents only allowed customers to order at the bar:

The trouble for the customer is that lines tend to build when the venue has a large capacity and the only place to order is from the bar. On top of that, most breweries have large amounts of open seating, so when a customer needs to order another drink, they risk losing their table.

From a customer convenience standpoint, ordering from a table, without having to wait in line at the bar is obviously a better experience. The problem is that most breweries don't have enough staff to have servers going to every table. This leads to the second reason why breweries are turning to QR codes as a way for customers to order and pay for their drinks:

2. Lack of Labor

While breweries have not been hit as hard as traditional bars and restaurants in terms of the post covid staffing shortage, it is not feasible to employ the number of servers it would take to facilitate a large space with more than 250 customers. To be clear, this doesn't mean the venues can't afford more labor, it means that the operations of a brewery are not typically set up to have traditional service.

And it makes sense. The focus is on brewing great beer that gets distributed to local (and national) supermarkets, bars, and restaurants. Giving customers the opportunity to enjoy the beer at the brewery is almost a bonus. But since the focus is on beer, food is often a secondary option or outsourced to a third party like a food truck. And this is what we mean when we say the operations are not set up for traditional food service.

3. Increase Revenue

The third major reason breweries are implementing QR code systems to allow customers to order and pay is that these systems can generate incremental revenue. Toast POS recently conducted a survey that claims that venues utilizing QR codes have seen an increase in revenue by 30-40% on average. This is because of two main reasons:

  1. Higher average tickets

  2. Higher volume of sales

The higher ticket amounts are credited to customers being able to see a picture of each item on the menu, and/or read a thorough description of the item. The volume of sales is due to the fact that customers never have to wait to place an order, and bartenders spend roughly 50% less time at POS stations, because there are no orders to punch in, and payments to process.

Crowds gather at brewLAB in Washington DC

But the question is, which QR code system makes the most sense for your brewery? There are a handful of factors and features to consider:

  • How do you want orders getting to the customer?

  • Do you want to collect customer data?

Getting the order to the customer is the most important aspect of a QR code system. The ideal system wouldn't require you to change your venue operations at all, or only slightly. There are three common ways a QR code order can be received by the customer:

1. If you already have runners, QR codes can be programmed to match your venue's floor plan, so the runner can deliver the order to the customer's table without the customer ever needing to stand up.

2. If you don't have runners and need the customer to pick up the order at the bar, after placing the order, the customer will receive an order number that will match what is received by the staff. The customer goes to the bar, shows a bartender their order number, and is handed their beer (similar to ordering ahead at Starbucks).

3. The other option more advanced QR code systems have, is the ability to send the customer a text message when their order is ready for pickup. The process is similar to the previous option but requires the staff to interact with a POS terminal to trigger the customer's text message. While this is a slightly better experience for the customer, it may not be the best option for an extremely busy bar, since one of the main goals is to reduce the time bartenders spend at a POS.

Customer data is extremely valuable, but venues should not force their customers to give over their contact information if they don't want to. Many systems will require the customer to provide an email, and in some cases even create an account, before the customer can place an order. Keep in mind, your customers did not come to your venue to create an account, they came to enjoy your beer. The best systems will give the customer options to leave contact information in a natural progression, but don't force anything. With Barpay for example, if a customer wants a receipt, they can choose to provide an email after they have already ordered and paid.

Ready to get started?

The Barpay system was originally built in 2015 and has gone through a lot of fine-tuning with the help of bar, restaurant, hotel, and brewery owners. Regardless of your venue's operations, Barpay can be tailored to fit into your venue with as little friction as possible, by giving you multiple options on how to receive orders and notify customers when and where their order can be received. The system integrates with most major POS systems and has been proven to increase revenue by at least 30%. To learn more, schedule a free demo today!

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