Real Digital Media, provider of the enterprise-class NEOCAST digital signage platform, and Independent Purchasing Cooperative Inc., the independent Subway franchisee-owned purchasing cooperative, today announced expansion details for the Subway TV & Radio digital signage network.
Designed to enhance the Subway customer experience worldwide, the Subway TV & Radio digital signage program aims to better inform customers of their food and drink options, introduce new menu items and enhance the visibility of in-store promotions. It is designed to act as a marketing and sales vehicle streamlined to fit within the daily operations of franchisees' restaurants.
The network has been expanding rapidly since it was launched in 2010. Approximately 1,000 installations have already been deployed in the United States, with more than 500 installations in the Los Angeles market area, and plans are underway to soon expand into international markets.
"Subway's goal is to continually increase the value of the franchisees' investment in the restaurant and to help them successfully compete in the QSR industry. With digital signage, we are building a viable, cost-effective program to help our franchisees reach their customers with timely product and promotional messages that influence customer behavior at the counter and increase sales. Designed to increase store profitability, the strong positive response of the franchisees and the rapid growth of this program is very encouraging," said Dennis Clabby, IPC's vice president of Purchasing.
What the system includes, programming
The Subway TV & Radio program includes hardware such as NEXCOM fanless media players and Samsung 40-inch commercial-grade high-definition displays, designed for a 24-hour restaurant environment.
It is created to be engaging and an easy way to deliver a message quickly to customers, according to Brian Wheeler, director of Services, IPC.
"The digital platform provides Subway with the ability to modify content at any time and have it automatically change/update throughout the day, allowing us to engage each customer entering the restaurant," he said.
Programming content is supplied and managed at a national level, but franchisees can influence what is played by logging on and scheduling changes through a franchisee portal. The network allows for local control of playlists across several time slots, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner.
"For instance, a store in the warmer parts of the U.S. could show additional cold beverage promotional videos even in the winter, while stores in the Midwest could be showing a warm, toasted sandwich. Local customization of content pre-selected by national and regional marketing managers is something that is remarkable in a system of this scale," said Michael Baron, president of Real Digital Media.
By having such a scalable system, it allows Subway — the largest restaurant chain in the world — to better expand the network to its more than 36,000 units globally.
The Subway TV & Radio programming is a mix of video featuring Subway's core products and promotions, and streaming music delivered via the Internet. Franchisees are currently deploying the system in the queue where customers place their orders. There are not any plans at this moment to include non-Subway messaging.
Wheeler added that this system is different from digital menu boards as it also includes a full motion video to inform and entertain customers while they're preparing to order, in addition to menu products and pricing.
Baron said when the network is fully rolled out to Subway's 36,000-plus restaurants, it is likely to be the largest digital signage deployment in the world.
The international expansion of digital signage in Subway units is just beginning as the expansion of the network in the U.S. accelerates rapidly.
"We expect there to be additional applications of digital signs in Subway locations in the near future. There is no specific timetable for the entire rollout across the world, although international expansion will occur rapidly," Baron said.
Wheeler said Subway picked Real Digital Media to implement this initiative because the company's software allows the chain to meet all of its needs, including being able to support national messaging while empowering local markets and individual franchisees to select content that best fits their restaurants.
"Real Digital Media software allows Subway to meet all of these needs and more, and provides us flexibility to meet the sometimes complex market demands," Wheeler said.
The system was extensively tested and voted on by a board of franchisees before being rolled out system-wide. As a private company, Subway doesn't disclose specific costs of any products or equipment, however the company's franchisees have the benefit of IPC's purchasing power, designed to control costs for such a deployment.
"IPC does provide financing services for franchisees and we have worked with one of our lending partners to provide low cost payment options," Wheeler said.
Benefits of the program
Baron said the biggest benefits this program will provide for Subway include the ability to present new menu items or add-ons such as cookies, which gives a local franchisee a chance to better satisfy new and repeat customers.
"Additionally, Subway can reinforce national ad campaigns in an entertaining way, making the experience of visiting a Subway store even more enjoyable for their customers. Franchisees see additional sales, high quality content and very satisfied customers," Baron said.
The QSR segment is an ideal audience for such programming, as it presents catchy content quickly, therefore not stagnating the queue line. The often changing content means customers are likely to see new items during each visit.
Read more about restaurant digital signage.
Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.