Blog: Jeff Hastings 
Jeff Hastings (Bio)
Friday, 18 July 2014

One display that every single visitor to a restaurant or fast food outlet will unfailingly consult is the menu board. Most retailers have to attract customers’ attention to their in-store displays, but restaurateurs have a guaranteed audience.

The restaurant menu board offers a truly amazing branding and sales window for the store. It’s no wonder that more and more restaurants are moving away from static signage and introducing digital screens.

The menu board must of course be up to date, accurate and compliant with relevant local and national law. To this end, digital signage content management systems can now be easily integrated into restaurant point-of-sale solutions, ensuring that changes to the menu and pricing are instantly reflected in both. These updates can now be handled through an iOS app or a web browser interface, ensuring that any member of staff can quickly remove a dish that’s sold out, and introduce a new one as it becomes available. Meeting food labelling regulations is also a snap with this technology. One update is immediately reflected in every screen in the restaurant or chain of restaurants.

What really sets digital menu boards apart from fixed signage, however, is the way in which they can enhance the customer experience. Rockbot, for example, is a digital jukebox that can be integrated into the menu board system, allowing customers to choose songs when they choose their meal or drink. Sports results, news, or even entire sporting events can be delivered to customers alongside the menu, enhancing their dining experience and encouraging them to stay longer and consume more.
The operational efficiencies achieved with an integrated digital menu board integrated and point-of-sale system are often used to justify the installation cost by providing an easily measurable return on investment. But the real benefit is the opportunity to take the restaurant’s customer and staff experience to a whole new level. VIP Room Theater, one of the most famous Paris nightclubs, allows customers to message each other using screens set into each table. The Cheesecake Factory is using its screens to display staff training videos during off hours. Truly, the only limit to your digital menu board is your imagination.

Posted by: Admin AT 08:30 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

A recent report published by Markets & Markets confirmed yet again how quickly digital signage is growing: 8.94 percent CAGR over the next six years. IHS foresees a similar trend, predicting growth between 4.7 percent and 5.6 percent. As for what's driving this growth, both firms agree that data management and analytics will catalyze this continued market expansion.

Live data feeds allow local and corporate managers to adjust marketing messages in real time to affect customers' decisions, boost sales figures and reduce waste. Quick-service restaurants are leading the way. They are "selling smarter" by analyzing their sales data in real time and updating their signage instantly to reflect what they learn. Digital menu boards allow restaurants to make immediate menu changes for promotions and advertising to reflect marketing objectives, as well as manage inventory. Now restaurants can withdraw the advertising immediately when stock of the promoted item is exhausted. Conversely, restaurants can track stock levels and attractively price items that aren't moving, shifting the stock before it reaches its sell-by date.

Other sectors have embraced this opportunity, too. In the financial industry, Western Union International Bank GmbH automatically and instantly updates currency buy and sell prices at its 40 German and Austrian branches — saving staff time and making it more competitive.

Digital signage is no longer a standalone function of a company's outbound marketing efforts. Data is monitored in real time, and integrated, resulting in intelligent digital signage that empowers companies to market more effectively and manage sales more efficiently. This approach is a fundamental change in the way retailers, restaurants and financial institutions run and manage their businesses, and digital signage is driving that paradigm shift.

Posted by: Admin AT 10:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Friday, 20 September 2013

Take a quick look around any restaurant, sports bar, food court or any other dining establishment and it’s plain to see that digital menu boards are one of the fastest-growing segments of digital signage. And it’s easy to understand why – the screens are smart and stylish, and they give a polished, high-tech feel to the establishment. Equally important, the menus can be updated with ease to reflect new offers, new pricing and new labelling regulations.

The more savvy restaurants are incorporating video into their menu boards, taking their marketing efforts to a whole new level. Integrating dynamic content alongside the core menu information not only creates visual impact – it increases customer engagement with the menu itself and gives restaurateurs the ability entice hungry diners with more than just static text and imagery.

Compelling moving images – imagine a steaming burger, a drink being poured or ice clinking in a glass – prompt a Pavlovian response in customers, often leading to a sale of the featured product. The use of video-based menu boards is finding its way into virtually every category. Salad bars showing fresh ingredients as they’re chopped up, coffee shops showcasing a frothy top added to a steaming cappuccino, juice bars showing fresh oranges being fed through a juicer, the possibilities are endless. In each case, the proprietors are using visuals to create a desire for their products, with compelling results.

While it’s not unusual to see many of these more innovative video applications in digital menu boards, there exists a great dichotomy within the industry whereby some restaurants are embracing video, and others continue to use digital signage simply as a substitute for a static sign.

Forward-looking restaurateurs understand that their menus are much more than a simple list of what coming out of the kitchen on a given day. A digital menu board is a valuable sales tool. It’s an extension of their brand, and an important point of customer interaction. In most cases, customers engage with the menu board for several minutes, while the actual time spent engaging with the cashier or waiter can be just a fraction of that time. So why not improve the depth and quality of that interaction with rich media that puts customers in the mood to order generously?

Using the best available technology, a “digital menu board” can become a “digital selling board,” attracting attention and making the restaurant’s tastiest offerings look more tempting than ever.  

Posted by: Admin AT 02:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Tuesday, 09 July 2013

Digital menu boards represent a digital signage submarket that's maturing quickly. Markets on the tail end of maturity often become stagnant, falling victim to commoditization and, as a result, innovation begins to wane as margins become razor-thin. Forward-thinking companies that helped shape the market then turn their attention to other, more enticing markets.

Fortunately for the digital signage and restaurant industries, this is definitely NOT the case with digital menu boards. Innovation in this sector is alive and well, as evidenced by the recent emergence of the BYOD (bring your own device) practice that's revolutionizing the way digital menu boards are managed.

BYOD means different things in different applications, but in our world of digital signage it refers to the use of mobile devices to interface with the signage infrastructure. I was at the National Restaurant Association trade show last month in Chicago, and the restaurant industry is bullish on BYOD. Menu content can no longer be static — throughout the course of a single day specials are added, happy hour deals are promoted, items are removed when stock is depleted, the list goes on. With BYOD, innovative new apps let managers at the individual restaurants make updates to their menus, giving them the ability to control their menu to maximize customer satisfaction and ultimately revenue. Furthermore, the corporate powers-that-be can maintain control over branding and any other elements they deem appropriate, while empowering individual restaurants to control individual menu items.

The beauty of BYOD is how dramatically it simplifies the process of updating menu content. For example, with restaurants using the right app, an iPhone or iPad automatically detects any locally networked players. Once selected, the device's controls are available for real-time interaction via the mobile device. And of course everything is password-protected to ensure simple and secure execution.

BYOD also provides a direct touch point for businesses to use signage to communicate directly with individual customers via their mobile devices. The use of custom apps is enabling personalized communication between devices and signage, from location-based push marketing to social interactive participation in venue activities. And the emerging facial recognition technologies are enabling retailers to capture valuable demographic information that helps them customize even further the marketing messages they push to each customer.

While we're noticing a great deal of BYOD adoption in the restaurant industry, this technology is similarly used in virtually every other vertical market that requires signage content to be updated frequently. Retail is a logical fit for BYOD, as well as emergency services, education, transportation and many other public settings. A great number of digital signage installations could benefit from increased dynamic content, but those proprietors traditionally have shied away due to the technical challenges that BYOD now helps them overcome. In my opinion, BYOD will drive significant innovation in digital signage in the months ahead, presenting substantial opportunities for our industry and our customers.

Posted by: Admin AT 09:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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