SAN FRANCISCO – When people get into the teeth, while there is a bar in the San Francisco mission neighborhood, bouncers give them options. They say, they can order food and drink at the bar, or they can order through the QR code.

Each dental table has an embossed card with a code, which is a pixelated black and white square. Menu Customers simply scan the website with their phone camera to open the menu. They can then input their credit card information to make a payment, without touching the paper menu or contacting the server.

Scenes like this were a rarity 18 months ago, but not now. “During my 13 years of bar ownership in San Francisco, I’ve never seen such a sea change that brought most customers into new behaviors so quickly,” said Ben Blamman, owner of Teeth.

QR codes – essentially a type of bar code that allows transactions to be touchless – have emerged as a permanent tech fixture from the coronavirus epidemic. Restaurants have entered them in messes, retailers including CVS and Foot Locker have added them to the checkout register, and marketers have released them on retail packaging, direct mail, billboards and TV ads.

But the proliferation of codes has allowed businesses to integrate more tools to raise the red flag for tracking, targeting and analysis, privacy experts. This is because the QR code can store digital information such as when, where and how often it is scanned. They can also open an application or website that then tracks people’s personal information or needs to input it.

As a result, QR codes allow some restaurants to create a database of their customer’s order history and contact information. On retail chains, people may soon be confronted by personalized offers and incentives marketed in QR code payment systems.

Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said people do not understand that when you use a QR code, it introduces a complete device of online online tracking between you and your meal. “Suddenly your offline flight activity of sitting down to dinner has become part of the online advertising empire.”

The QR code may be new to many American shoppers, but it has been popular internationally for years. Discovered in 1994 to streamline car manufacturing in a Japanese company, QR codes have been widely used in China in recent years after AliPay and WeChat Pay were integrated into digital payment applications.

In the United States, technology mpg was hampered by clumsy marketing, a lack of customer understanding, and the need for a special app to scan codes, Scott Stratten said, adding that he wrote the 2013 business book “QR Codes Kill Kittens” with his wife. , Allison Stratten.

That has changed for two reasons, Mr. Said Strait. In 2017, he said, Apple Play made it possible to identify QR codes for the iPhone’s Core Mera, expanding the technology more widely. Then came the epidemic, and it’s amazing what an epidemic can do to us, ”he said.

According to the National Restaurant Association, half of all full-service restaurant operators in the United States have added a QR code menu since the onset of the epidemic. In May 2020, PayPal introduced QR code payments and has since added them to CVS, Nike, Foot Locker and nearly a million small businesses. Square, another digital payment firm, will roll out a QR code ordering system for restaurants and retailers in September.

Sharat Pothraju, chief executive of digital marketing company Mobastac, said businesses do not want to give up the bottom line benefits of QR codes. Deals and special offers can be bundled with QR code systems and are easy to reach in front of people when people see their phones, he said. Businesses can also collect data on how a customer spends through QR codes.

“From traditional media like billboards or TV, you can estimate how many people would have seen it, but you don’t know how people actually interacted with it,” said Sarah Kachchiara, Brandmuskel, senior vice president. Who introduced the QR code menu product last year. “With QR codes, we can get reporting on those scans.”

Checkout and Mr. Yum, two start-ups that sell technology to create QR code menus in restaurants, also said the codes have benefited the business.

Restaurant Rents that use QR code menus can save servers 30 to 50 percent on labor costs by reducing or reducing the need to place orders and pay, said Tom Sharon, co-founder of Checkout.

Digital menus persuade people to spend more with photographs of menu items to make people more attractive, adding fries to cocktails or putting more expensive spirits to fur, Mr. Kim said. Yama co-founder. Orders placed through the QR Code menu are also Mr. Yum gives restaurants information on what items they sell, so they can add a menu section with the most popular items or highlight the dishes they want to sell.

These increased digital capabilities concern privacy experts. Mr. For instance, Yum uses cookies in the digital menu to track a customer’s shopping history and give restaurants access to that information by linking customers to a phone number and credit card. It is running pilot software in Australia so that restaurant restaurants can give people a “recommended to you” section based on their previous order, Ms. He said.

Lucy Bernholz, director of Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, said QR codes are “an important step in the direction that your experience of physical space outside your home seems to be tracked by Google outside of your screen.”

Ms. The TO said that the customer data of each restaurant was only available for that establishment and that Mr. Yama did not use this information to reach customers. It does not sell data to any third-party brokers, he said.

Checkout only collects customers’ names, phone numbers and secure payment information, which it does not sell to third parties. Shares said.

On a recent blush evening at Dant, customers shared mixed reviews of the QR code ordering system from Checkout, which Bar installed in August Gust. Some said it was convenient, but added that they would prefer the traditional menu in an excellent meal plan.

“If you’re on a date and you’re whipping your phone, it’s a mess,” said Daniela Sernich, 29.

Jonathan Bruner-Contrares, 26, said it was convenient to place a QR code order, but he feared the technician would fire him as a bartender on a separate strip in the neighborhood.

“It looks as if a factory has replaced all its workers with robots,” he said. “People depend on that 40 hours.”

Regardless of customer sentiment, Mr. Bleman said checkout data showed that about half of dental orders – and about 65 percent of orders during television games – were coming through the QR code system.

“They don’t like it,” he said in a text message. “But they’re doing it!”