Subway and Dairy Queen share digital signage lessons
QSRs are deploying digital signage and kiosks at a much faster pace than before, as many look to boost customer experience through technology. However, its easy to make mistakes when deploying digital signage in a QSR environment.
In a keynote presentation at DSE, Michael Dwyer, senior manager of digital marketing at Subway, and Jann Rider, director of digital merchandising at Dairy Queen, offered tips on a digital signage mistakes to avoid. The discussion was moderated by Henry Mowat, chief operating officer at Coates.
Subway started deploying digital signage in 2009 with a simple, single-screen solution. In 2013, the company decided to roll out a full digital menu board platform, according to Dwyer. The company did not run a pilot program, but rather, implemented the system as quickly as possible.
Based on that experience, Dwyer recommended first and foremost to run a pilot test with the system before deploying it on a wider scale. This allows the deployer to test different tactics and approaches for content, he said.
Dwyer also recommended that QSRs, "Understand the various data points and versions you need to support and how they impact your system."
While the company is considering the true impact of its digital signage solution, it also should determine whether it has the resources to scale a digital menu solution for a large number of locations.
Mowat recommended that if testing for scale is not an option, the company should at least test its most difficult locations to see what problems arise.
Dwyer also recommended that QSRs prepare for the future when working with digital menu boards. One way to do this is by overproducing certain forms of dynamic content that can be saved for later use.
Restaurants also need to ensure that their hardware will support future needs and functionality. No one wants to go through an expensive upgrade one year after a massive deployment, he said.
Dairy Queen learned that upgrading some locations with digital menu boards could be a significant challenge due to the age of the building. Some Dairy Queen rooftops date back almost to the company's founding in 1940, and proved challenging to upgrade with digital signage.
Rider said that one way to deal with variables such as this is to plan a longer pilot with a broader test base. She also emphasized that restaurants should overprepare in anticipation of different variables.
In choosing the digital signage solution itself, Rider said it is important to look past the glitz and glamour. One way to do this is to hire a consultant to assist with the RFP, she said. The consultant can help the company to see past the pitch and fine-tune the RFP to address a company's known needs and workflow processes.
Lastly, Rider recommended that deployers get in-depth software training before select the software that will drive the solution. Restaurants need to understand exactly how the software works and whether it is a good fit for their digital signage objectives.
Bradley Cooper / Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.