Digital signage technology is moving into the restaurant industry at a rapid pace. More companies are looking to this new technology to replace their current menu boards and promotional materials inside and outside of their restaurants. Operators are increasingly realizing how effective digital menu boards can be in lifting their bottom line while increasing their overall market share.
What can be difficult to determine, however, is how long it will take for a restaurant to show a return on investment when deploying these digital systems compared to the traditional menu boards that are currently being used. Restaurants also are analyzing how this investment in technology will aid in meeting the upcoming menu labeling requirements.
Over the years, menu boards in restaurants have assumed many different forms. Some have used chalkboards with daily specials updated in bold swaths of dusty whites, blues and other colors. Others favored plastic letters slid laboriously into place, one after another.
Eventually, what many considered to be state of the art became a backlit panel that allowed for graphics, rotating numbers for prices and conveninent slots where whole items could be swapped out at a time.
With all of these solutions, restaurant operators struggled with getting the right information into the right place as well as making sure that the manual updates were done in a timely manner. If operators failed to achieve those goals, the business itself was in jeopardy of losing revenue, and the opportunity to promote goods and services would be lost.
Out of this came the introduction of static promotional boards and quarterly menu board replacements. However, the opportunity to capture new sales by maximizing daily promotions and specials would remain manual. Further, with a growing focus on different breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, the restaurant would need to either increase the size of the menu board or use two-sized flip boards — both of which possibilities required additional manual labor.
Evolving computer and display technologies have moved forward in recent years, offering the restaurant industry a modern alternative to old-school modes of communicating products, pricing and promotions. This advancement has come in the form of digital signs. The benefits are numerous and include:
- The ability to use automatic dayparting of menu boards.
- The ability to remotely update menus and make instant, preprogrammed changes.
- Centralized control of marketing, promotions and menu board content.
- The ability to tie in inventory levels and point of sale (POS) to change marketing and pricing on the fly.
Digital menu boards and promotional boards allow messages to be dynamic, clear and interactive, as well as integrate static or full-motion content. These capabilities also allow the operator to incorporate cross promotions with vendors, partners and suppliers.
Ready or not, digital menu boards are quickly becoming a major part of the quick-service and fast casual restaurant environments. In the following pages, take a look at what operators need to consider when deicding whether a digital menu board system is right for them.