When customers walk past or enter a restaurant, the first thing they look for is the menu. The stunning menus with captivating visuals grab the customers’ attention and inspire them to make orders without hesitation. Does this sound familiar? That is the power of digital menu boards! Digital menu boards are a well-known necessity in the quick-service restaurant industry. Studies have shown that restaurants with digital signage have an 80% rise in unplanned purchases made by customers. In this article, we will explain how do digital menu boards work.
Main Components You Need to Power Digital Restaurant Menu Display Boards
A digital menu board is a display system that combines a plasma display screen with a digital signage media player and software to display menus, special promotions, and more. It includes images, videos, and animations that will instantly capture the customer’s attention. With digital menu boards, you can help your customers make ordering decisions more quickly, provide them with the best customer experience possible, and boost overall store revenue.
So how do digital menu boards work? There are 3 major components that help run a digital menu board:
1. Digital Signage Displays/Screens with HDMI ports
There are two types of screens on the market: commercial-grade and consumer-grade. There are a few things you should consider when choosing between the two:
- Commercial-grade display: Although a commercial screen is usually in a higher price range, it can operate 24/7 as it’s built with commercial settings in mind and has a longer valid warranty period. A commercial-grade screen has a brightness range from 300 to 1,500 nits, ensuring the screen won’t get washed out even when under direct sunlight. On top of that, the frame (bezels) around the screen is thinner to ensure the visibility area of the screen is larger. This also eliminates the branding of the TV manufacturers, which is ideal if you only want your branding to be the focus.
- Consumer-grade display: A consumer-grade screen can be purchased at a lower price range. However, it is worth noting that the warranty is typically voided if you use the display in a commercial environment. The consumer-grade screen is built for personal use, such as watching at home. As the screen is not built for 24/7 usage, it has a notably shorter lifespan when compared to commercial-grade displays. As the brightness ranges from 150 to 250 nits, a consumer-grade display is significantly dimmer than a commercial-grade screen. As a result, the display will be washed out under direct sunlight and the displayed content will be hard to read. The bezels are thicker and show the TV brand clearly.
2. Digital Signage Player
The digital signage media player helps run the digital signage software and displays the menu content on the screen. An internet connection is required for the media player to receive and download content from the software. There are different types of digital menu board media players in the market, such as Windows PC, Android TV, and Nano-PC. Even though Windows PC and Android TV may seem like good candidates, they are built mainly for personal use and will have many limitations and drawbacks.
When it comes to choosing the right media player, it is highly recommended that you look for the following:
- Small & sleek: The device should fit the narrow space behind the screen without effort.
- Easy to install: Simple set-up procedure with minimal wires required.
- Easy to maintain: You should be able to make updates without removing the device.
- Built specifically for digital signage: To ensure best performance possible.
3. Digital Menu Board Software
Digital signage software, or, in this case, digital menu board software, is content management software that allows you to upload/update your menu content and transmit it onto your restaurant menu board within a few minutes via internet connection.
When it comes to selecting the right software, here is a list of must-haves you should consider:
- Cloud-Based Centralized Content Management System: With this system, you will be able to access, distribute, and manage your screens’ content at one or across multiple locations anytime and anywhere. As you have complete control over your digital menu boards, you can ensure your menus and specials always appear at the right time without waiting on anyone.
- Flexibility to Edit: The editability will offer you the flexibility to make changes without relying on other parties, including the designers. You can enjoy the ability to make any edits to your menu items and pricing based on real-time data and without any restrictions.
- Dayparting: You can automate your breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus to switch based on different parts of the day. You don’t need to worry about the menu switch as the system will take care of it.
- Advanced Scheduling: You can schedule any menu updates or promotions in advance. All you need to do is create content based on your plan and schedule a time and date for your content to appear in the system. Your menus will update automatically when the time comes.
Menu Design and Content
The menu is the first thing customers see when they walk into a restaurant, so you want to make the best first impression possible. Attractive designs and animations will stimulate customers to make purchases and enhance their overall experience at the restaurant. Hence, when figuring out the answers to how do digital menu boards work, you need to also think about your menu design and content.
When it comes to designing a digital menu board, you should focus on the following elements to give your customers a menu they will never forget:
- Typography & Font Size: The font used in the menu should be easy to read, as most customers don’t have the time to decode the design font. You should also ensure the font size is at a comfortable, readable size.
- Menu Design Style & Colors: Each restaurant has its signature style and color combinations. Ideally you should use your branding colors to keep the designs true to your brand and leave a memorable impression.
- Background: The background of the menu should be simple and elegant so your customers can read your menus without any distractions.
Remember, we are not telling stories here. You want to keep your content clean and concise so your customers can make orders quickly. Here are some things you should consider:
- Menu items & pricing: All items should be included in the right category. Special attention should be provided to signature dishes and high-profit margin items. Most importantly, you should avoid overcrowding the menu as it distracts the customers and increases their overall decision-making time.
- Promotions and limited-time offer: Use the extra space on the menu to display the latest deals, happy hour offers, and special promotions. You can place them strategically to upsell and cross-sell.
- Nutritional information: Some regulatory authorities require restaurants to display nutritional information.
- Images and videos: Studies have shown that visuals get 94% more views than text-based information. Thus, you should include any high-quality images and videos on the digital display board to simultaneously help and inspire customers to make purchases.
- Animation and visual effects: Animations make use of motion to attract people’s attention. You can even apply special visual effects like smoke or steam on food images to entertain your customer, stimulate their appetite and excitement, and motivate them to make orders.
Where to Place Your Digital Display Menu Boards
Where you place your digital menu boards will influence how do digital menu boards work for your restaurant. There are two main areas where you can display digital menu boards:
At the Ordering Counter
The ordering counter will be the first place the customers head toward when they walk into the restaurant. Placing your digital menu board here will help effectively draw their attention to the menus. The customer’s eyes will be drawn to the captivating menu board and help them make faster orders. On top of that, the stunning animations will help keep your customers entertained while they wait in line or for their orders. This will then help reduce their perceived wait time and ensure they leave the restaurant as happy customers.
At the Drive-Thru
Drive-thrus are the perfect places to have a digital menu board. Recent studies show that 68% of McDonald’s drive-thrus in the US had digital menu boards as their primary menu. On top of that, 75% percent of all quick-service restaurants offer drive-thru services to their customers.
Having multiple digital menu boards at the drive-thrus will help your customers access your menus easily while waiting in line. On top of that, the 2020 Drive-Thru study shows that restaurants with digital menu boards reduced service times by an average of 12.3 seconds. With digital menu boards at the drive-thrus, you can help your customers make fast visits to your restaurants and boost your overall sales.
How Should You Select the Right Service Provider?
There are many different service providers on the market that provide digital signage solutions. Ultimately, you will find 2 types of digital signage service providers: one is a service integrator and the other one is a total solution provider. A system integrator is a provider that will put every component together, but does not develop or create their own products. A total solution provider, on the other hand, designs and builds their own hardware and software to make sure all components work seamlessly together with best performance possible. Additionally, a total solution provider usually offers many internal services, such as graphic design services and in-house technical support services.
Both service providers will be able to help you with your digital signage needs. However, it is highly recommended that you opt for a total solution provider. If you have any questions or concerns, they will be able to assist you and bring everything back on track in a timely manner.
Digital menu boards are a necessity in quick-service restaurants. It is worth your time to ensure that you consider all aspects involved to maximize the benefits of digital menu boards for your business. By now, you should have a good understanding of how do digital menu boards work. If you have any questions about how you can introduce digital menu boards to your restaurant, you can always consult with a total solution provider to learn more. These experts will be able to provide you with a well-rounded plan tailored for you.
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