3 keys to evaluating digital menu boards
Digital menu boards are all the rage in restaurants, but all menu boards are not created equal. They can range in complexity from a simple LCD display with content delivered from a USB thumb drive to a massive enterprise content management solution.
During the free, one-hour webinar, "How to evaluate digital menu board solutions," hosted by Digital Signage Today and sister publication Fast Casual, Wand Corp. sales engineer Gary Hoover offered tips for finding the right solution.
Firstly, Hoover recommended that a restaurant establish clearly defined business goals for its signage. These can include customer education and experience, sales, brand loyalty and more.
The business can then use these goals to develop a better picture of the type of provider they want to work with.
Once this decision has been made, restaurant management will need to evaluate the hardware, content and campaign management options for their desired solution.
One of the major considerations with hardware is whether to go with consumer grade or commercial components.
"Consumer grade is what you likely have in your home for watching TV," Hoover said during the webinar. "They are going to be less expensive and will get the job done, but will they be reliable and will they last?"
Hoover said that commercial grade displays, if built properly, can withstand high heat, humidity, grease and dust.
Another hardware consideration is screen size. Important considerations here include the area available for setup and installation. Just as important are distance requirements, potential sight-line obstructions and space constraints that will affect customers' ability to read what's on the screen.
Additional items to keep in mind are the type of media player that will be paired with the display and the screen resolution that will make for optimum viewing
Hoover said that when it comes to menu board content, "It's not just about the menu options ... it's now about selling!"
He recommended incorporating animated content that can catch the customer's eye, and making use of the "golden triangle," the pattern that the human eye typically follows when viewing a menu — starting at the center, then moving up to the right and across to the left.
A restaurant can use this pattern to advantage with the thoughtful placement of content, for example, by featuring a hot-selling item at the center of the menu board .
In creating content, it's best to prepare carefully and ask a few very important questions, according to Hoover.
"Do you have the technological expertise on staff to really bring your menus to life? Do you have people on staff who can take your static photography and add subtle animations to make that burger look more appealing? Can you build HTML content for the menu boards?"
If the answer to each of these questions is not a confident yes, the business should seek out a digital signage provider who can help create high-quality professionally designed content.
The final point to consider is how a signage campaign will be managed. For a limited installation, it's fine to use a USB-based solution to load content. However, the larger the deployment, the more important it becomes to consider implementing an efficient and well-designed content management system.
Hoover recommended analyzing any system based on ease of use, the level of development and frequency of updates, campaign delivery capabilities and integration considerations. He emphasized the importance of asking additional questions, as well, including:
- How complicated will it be to onboard a new location and how long will it take a new manager to learn the interface, if required?
- Does the CMS provides training and ongoing support?
- Does the CMS use templates that will easily accommodate development and updates?
- What media formats are supported, how is content updated, and how long does that take?
- How easy or difficult is it to monitor, manage and deploy campaigns, and how many campaigns can be scheduled at once?
"Can you deploy a single campaign to all your stores?" Hoover asked. "Say, for example, all your stores have the exact same menu content, but [you] also deploy separate campaigns to groups of stores to support regionalized promotional content."
And finally, Hoover said, the buyer should ask whether the CMS will integrate easily with other systems, such as POS and social media platforms, and whether it can pull in HTML data feeds.
For more tips from Hoover on evaluating digital menu boards, get the free webinar replay.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www