The future of restaurant-based digital signage

June 15, 2016 | by Jeff Hastings

Fresh off the 2016 National Restaurant Association show in Chicago, once again I'm energized about what the future holds for digital signage in the restaurant industry. I see two parallel tracks of adoption taking place, fueling significant growth in media player sales, as well as other related categories such as displays, mounts, content authoring and other services.

The first adoption wave is the most obvious. This is the first-time implementation of digital menu boards in settings that have been slow to embrace digital -— small mom-and-pop cafes, food trucks, outdoor dining kiosks and the like. These businesses have shied away from digital menu boards either due to cost or complexity (or both), but these hurdles have been mitigated by the declining cost of hardware and content solutions that make it easy for these businesses to create and manage content on their own.

Beyond the proliferation described above, I believe we're on the cusp of something else that will be very transformative. Businesses that "went digital" years ago are overhauling their networks to enhance the customer experience in new ways, and even find ways to streamline how they conduct business. I'll highlight below some of the innovative ways restaurants are making the most of their digital signage investments.

Johnny Rockets is a large chain of American diner-themed restaurants that revamped its in-restaurant signage not only to update its menu, but also to function as an interactive source of entertainment. The chain is using a smart music and media platform called Rockbot to deliver a jukebox-like music experience, letting patrons control the playlist via their smart phones. This is a great way for Johnny Rockets to celebrate its classic diner heritage, while embracing new technology to deliver a unique and memorable customer experience.

Taco Time is a large chain that uses its signage not to entertain, but to engage customers as they wait in line. As with many quick-serve restaurants during peak times, customers often queue up and wait idly for their turn to order. Taco Time now takes advantage of that wait time with interactive touchscreen displays positioned throughout the queue, enabling customers to familiarize themselves with the menu as they wait. This ensures that customers use their time constructively and are ready to order as soon as they reach the front of the line.

These are just a few examples of how restaurants are looking beyond the simple function of a digital menu board and embracing interactive solutions to increase customer enjoyment and create operational efficiencies. This quest for multi-functionality in restaurant signage will fuel big growth in our industry, and will help to shape the future of digital signage in dining venues of all sorts.


Topics: Advertising, Assisted Selling/Point-of-Decision, Content, Customer Experience, Display Technology, DOOH Advertising, Interactive / Touchscreen, Large-Scale Deployment, Media Players, Menu Boards, Planning / Integration, Restaurants

Companies: BrightSign



Jeff Hastings
BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings joined BrightSign in August 2009 while it was still a division of Roku Inc. In late 2010 with digital signage activities growing so rapidly, BrightSign became a separate firm. The holder of eight U.S. patents, he also has a history of tech industry leadership, including as president of mp3 pioneer Rio. www

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