The restaurant business is in the midst of transformation driven by advances of the cloud, big data analytics, Internet of Things and growing preference of customers for seamless experiences. In the middle of this transformation is digital signage.
The rise of more integrated and connected digital signage solutions is bringing unprecedented opportunities for the restaurant owners.
Quick Service Restaurant operators are quickly discovering that changing menus over from paper and plastic to digital menu boards is just the start of a powerful digital makeover.
Here’s how things used to work. Restaurants would have menus printed which would quickly get outdated and not provide essential information. Instead of canned, pre- determined messaging on printed menu boards, digital screens with vivid graphics, images and videos are providing customers with information about what they’re looking at, and influencing buying decisions, including up-sells. Digital signage can also help restaurant owners to provide real-time tailored and relevant messages, such as:
- The menu
- Nutritional information
- Self-guided ordering
- Images and videos to increase product interest and reduce dwell time; ultimately improve sales
These systems can also trigger content based on multiple contributing factors, such as:
- What’s under-performing?
- What’s overstocked?
- What’s low on inventory?
- Time of day?
- Local environmental/weather conditions?
- What’s trending online?
- And countless other variables that could influence, shape and initiate or switch content
Interactive Digital Signage
Digital signage provides smart, interactive tools to engage customers in exciting and relevant ways. Interactive screens are being trialed in QSR environments as a mechanism to skip lines by placing orders and paying for them, without talking directly to the staff. When the order is ready, the patrons go to a pickup counter.
The attraction for consumers is it’s fast, accurate and includes custom ordering (“No pickles!”). The attraction for operators is it allows for faster transactions and less cash handling, since customers are paying via credit/debit cards. These screens also reduce the risk for order errors and waste. When not in use, these screens aren’t sitting idle. They can be scheduled to display promotions or entertaining content.
Corporate Communication Applications
Working at a QSR is a job for most, and not a career. A typical QSR will turnover its full staffing complement annually, and that creates an ongoing need to get critical messages in front of staff that cycle in and out all day, every day. Digital screens serve four important jobs that are usually out of the diners’ view:
1 – Equipment and safety training – Kitchens are full of ovens, dryers, sharp utensils and slippery surfaces. Digital screens can powerfully reinforce workplace safety and food safeties tips, and reduce liability and lost workday risks.
2 – Product knowledge – Operators in the hyper-competitive QSR business thrive or suffer based on the quality of customer service and customer engagement. Messaging that keeps staff informed on new offers and how to engage and speak effectively with customers is critical.
3 – Company communications – Typical QSR staff aren’t issued desktop PCs or mobile devices, or given email addresses, so the most effective way to ensure important HR messages reach employees are screens that staff invariably see throughout shifts.
4 – Performance metrics – Screens tied to management systems can display in real- time how the team is performing on key metrics, like service, drive-through order and delivery time.
Taking Control – Transformation is amazing in concept, but it doesn’t just happen. Tools are needed to manage the devices, data and content that results in seamless experiences that “just happen” for happy consumers. Something needs to be the hub, the control tower for all the moving parts and steadily changing data – an IoT-centric CMS (like EnGage) is ideally suited.
A robust digital signage CMS can also manage the following tasks:
- Provision- provisioning a network of remote devices
- Monitor – monitoring the operations of various network devices and automatically notifying operators of any anomalous behavior
- Control – the end-points can be controlled in real-time via a bi-directional connection, or via a polled interface
- Acquire – acquire content and data from external systems
- Target – effective meta-data organization means the correct data and content is published to the right end-point
- Function – it can drive content playout and host independently developed software to perform specific functions
- Capture – the metrics from end-points are logged and stored in a time-series database, which can be displayed or extracted
- Report – A reporting console provides access to the data that is collected. Reports can then be scheduled and emailed, or accessed via web services
- Analyze – Analytics let restaurant owners analyze customer buying behavior effectiveness of product placements, in-store traffic patterns and other parameters, allowing them to revise strategies and adjust resources accordingly to boost traffic and sales, and reduce operating costs
- Scale – Thousands of active in-store smart hubs can be monetized and reproduced across additional market verticals.
The rise of more integrated and connected digital signage solutions is bringing unprecedented opportunities for the restaurant owners, helping them achieve higher sales. The digital signage business has always talked about the core concept of getting the right content to the right place at just the right time. With all the data and devices, real- time content switching and very smart software, the consumer experience in restaurants can be enhanced.
Top photo: Installation from ComQi EnGage CMS reseller Everbrite