In the early years of digital signage, the purpose of using images and video in the retail space was to share information and alert customers of sales or promotions. It worked.

As the signage industry grew, so did the concept of marketing. Digital signage began to show up in other industries, like automotive, healthcare, and hospitality. Hardware graduated from the VHS to the various media players we use today.

Software also matured to meet the specific needs of retailers and restaurateurs.

As the digital signage industry boomed, so did the voices of digital signage users everywhere. They wanted solutions that gave more options and were affordable. And based on the number of digital signs and kiosks we see on the market today, it’s safe to say those voices were heard.

There’s only one problem: some of the solutions and options built into the hardware and software go underutilized, especially in the restaurant sector. If explored further, restaurateurs could get the full value of their investment.

Let’s dive into four less-known digital menu boards and kiosk strategies you should really know about; strategies that could increase your ROI.

1. Incorporating Applications

For the most part, we see the same types of digital sign deployment strategy at most restaurants. Basically, the new digital signs are used no differently than the old, static signs. To stand out in the crowd and really take advantage of digital innovation, consider using applications that make the user experience unique.

Take AppSuite for example,  a loyalty and rewards program application that offers specials and discounts based on a customer’s order history and behavior.

If a regular customer frequently orders a particular menu item, and their behavior and order history is stored, the app can generate a reward to this customer in the form of a discount on that particular item.

When customers regularly receive discounts or other specials, they tend to come back.

Panera Bread uses this kind of app to track the buying history of customers. As a MyPanera rewards member, you can save your modifications and order history to use again. This makes ordering the same lunch option a snap the next time around. At a kiosk, the customer can easily find their history, order a favorite meal again, and move on to order pickup so the next customer can place their order.

This strategy not only makes things faster for the customer, it makes things faster for the restaurant, too. Quicker turnover means more customers, and more customers mean more revenue.

The app also allows for better order accuracy. The customization options are plentiful. There’s even clear access to nutrition information, a must-have for many patrons.

Other apps, such as cameras or scanners within the kiosk, take membership photos and personalize loyalty cards.

Making customers feel important by personalizing their experience can be the difference between an average customer visit and an outstanding customer experience—one that patrons will tell their friends and family about.

2. Mobile Ordering

Speaking of apps, if you’ve got digital menus connected to your point of sale (POS) system, incorporating an app that allows customers to order from their smartphone can help increase your sales.

Poppinpay.com predicts that, by 2020, approximately 11 percent of QSR sales will be placed with a mobile device. In fact, less than half of QSR customers prefer to order in person. When restaurants encouraged the use of mobile apps, and integrate that use into their digital marketing concepts, they see an upswing in sales.

Starbucks, for example, forged a path to digital app innovation. In 2015, the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain introduced an app that lets customers find a store, place an order and pre-pay at any location. By giving consumers a new, convenient way to order, Starbucks not only shortened lines and accelerated service,  they saw an increase of $9 million dollars in sales a week.

By the end of 2018, mobile ordering accounted for 12 percent of the company’s sales.

3. Beacons

Beacons are digital transmitters—tracking devices that communicate with a shopper’s smartphone in order to improve their shopping experience.

Installed in a restaurant, the transmitter communicates with a smartphone’s Bluetooth to transmit information directly to customers that have installed the store’s app.

So when a customer enters the store with a smartphone that has the store’s app downloaded, the beacon can alert them to discounts or specials, sending a notification in the form of a coupon, a bargain, or a simple hello.

Beacons placed near digital menu boards can notify restaurant employees when a loyalty customer comes in. Using order history data, specials can pop up on the menu boards, enabling the establishment to personally cater to the customer without saying a word.

Transmitters can also update users about table wait times. Beacons placed in restaurant parking lots will tell customers when a table is available. Some will go elsewhere, some won’t. No matter. Those that come in to wait appreciate the digital experience before they even walk through the door.

4. Facial Recognition Software

Emerging technologies like biometrics and facial recognition are fairly new to the restaurant industry. These applications are used to recognize customers (or their vehicles) when they arrive at an establishment, in order to better serve their needs. Large organizations are the early adopters of these innovations, while smaller companies are following suit to stay competitive.

CaliBurger has been utilizing facial recognition ordering technology in two locations, as well as Dallas-based Malibu Poke, which has rolled out similar tech. Users ordering with a kiosk for the first time are prompted to receive a facial scan to remember the order for a future purchase. Return customers who use the self-service kiosks can place a new order or a repeat order, either by facial scan or by personally identifiable information (PII), like a phone number or credit card.

Conclusion

Various applications that mesh with your digital menu boards and kiosks can set your business apart from the rest. Apps that allow mobile ordering give hungry patrons more options. More options make hungry patrons happy.

By integrating apps and beacons that talk to your digital menu boards, you can welcome returning customers and offer special discounts or coupons. You can take it a step further by incorporating facial recognition. Changing from traditional, static menu boards to digital menu boards is only the first step in elevating digital marketing. Using innovative software, technologies, and apps can take your restaurant to a whole new level.

Which of these options would you consider integrating into your current digital menu strategy? Which would you shy away from and why?

Last updated: 11/27/19