Digital menu boards are gaining in popularity in the post pandemic world


The appeal for digital menus is clear. Patricia Rodriguez, director of Marketing & Sales at Netvisual Corporation, an Oakville Ont.-based digital-signage company, makes the point clearly: “What you show is what you sell.”

But prior to the pandemic, digital signage wasn’t the hot ticket it is today. The pandemic placed extraneous demands on the foodservice industry and part of the response has been demand for technology to step in and fill the gaps.

Going Digital
Digital signage is becoming more the rule than the exception thanks to COVID-19. Graydon Stock, executive director of Account Services for Toronto-based Cineplex Digital Media, notes a significant increase in demand for digital menu boards over the past couple of years.

“With the recent pandemic pressures, businesses are looking for a more efficient way to manage their bottom line, while still providing exceptional experiences for their customers. Digital menu boards are the solution that meets those needs.”

He says there’s been an increased interest in digital drive-thru as well, attributing this to operators looking to handle in-store restrictions and closures. “Digital drive-thru offers the convenience factor for the customer while still driving ROI for the business,” he says.

In addition to convenience, digital menus offer agility. Operators are able to instantly update menu items that have been 86’d or are unavailable. “Many restaurants had to make modifications to their menus over the past two years due to a bevy of issues ranging from supply-chain issues to the cost and availability of supplies and staffing shortages,” says Keshav Kiran, senior director of Global Strategic Partnerships at Oracle Food and Beverage, “Digital menu boards make it easy for restaurants to make these modifications with a few clicks so the customer can see what’s available before they try and order it — only to be disappointed when it is not available.”

Growing Up Fast
The surge in demand means the technology is quickly improving. “We’ve seen a marked increase in everything digital over the last 24 months. From kiosks, self-checkout, QR-code menus and ordering, and digital payments, the omni-channel environment is teeming with innovation”, Kiran says. “We’ve made several investments in this area of the business to help brands stay agile to test and deploy new digital experiences quickly, and with very little IT resourcing. Customers are able to tap into these endpoints exceptionally fast due to our open API architecture and robust partner ecosystem.”

All About Experience
Digital menus can provide opportunities for customer engagement through upselling or featuring promoted items. But the opportunity to go beyond is also present. “It’s all about the harmony between touchpoints on the customer journey,” says Stock. “At Cineplex Digital Media, we’ve proven that experience design strategy does create a more engaging and impactful menu-board experience that drives results.”

He notes CDM’s in-house Experience Design Team is solely devoted to experience design. “Our ability to design user-friendly touchpoints with optimization strategies based on things like eye movement and customer behaviour, matched with our strategic digital creative-design capabilities, makes for engaging menus that go beyond just linear text.”

For those still on the fence, Kiran says tech will just keep getting more personalized. “In the future, don’t be surprised when sensors in your car can talk to the digital display,” he says. “My trip in a drive thru may start with the display showing “Hi Keshav, welcome back…can I get your usual?” and then showing my regular order.”

By Andrea Victory

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