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Quick-service restaurants ranging from fast-food to cafes and food-stores catering to public transport and travel can greatly benefit from digital signage.

Big-name brands like McDonalds, Subway, and many more already utilize from signage, but for individual locations making decisions, justifying the cost and complications of going digital can be difficult.

However, thousands of quick-service restaurants have installed signage and seen both return on value and increased customer satisfaction.

With applications ranging from replacing simple paper and print promotions to smart applications that help you sell better, faster, and more, digital signage changes how QSRs do business.

These 6 applications are just some of the ways digital signage can help the fast food industry.

Advertising

Paper and print ads are a complex and often expensive routine for the average restaurant. Your largest challenge is that ads change frequently. Your store will have to constantly spend money replacing ads, putting new ads up, and taking old ads down. If there’s a mistake, you’ll either have to take those ads down and wait for new prints or maintain the mistake.

Digital signage avoids these issues. Not only do you cut consistent costs and carbon footprint from printing and trashing paper advertising and promotions, you improve how quickly and efficiently you can share content.

For example, digital signage content managers allow a basic user to upload new content in a matter of minutes. Templates and content management systems mean that images and text can be dropped in and updated quickly and efficiently.

Digital signage also means ads are updated instantly. Publish a content calendar and have ads automatically change on specific days, at specific times of the day, or throughout the month. If there’s a mistake, simply update it from your CMS.

And, with smart tools, you can typically link ads to data like weather, inventory, or traffic to share smarter and more relevant messaging.

Speeding Up Queues

Quick-service restaurants are often all about speed, but the longer your lines, the slower things move. Digital menus allow you to ensure people from any part of the queue can see the menu. They also offer steps and information to help customers choose information more quickly.

However, the true value of digital signage lies in smart data. Linking motion sensors and queue management to menu offerings means you can automatically update menus based on traffic.

For example, your digital signage software can automatically remove complex items from the menu when it’s busy. It can automatically update menu items to reflect the audience (such as children). And, you can change the menu to reduce options and choices when things are too busy.

Each of these steps will result in faster decision-making and faster queues.

Optimizing Menu Offerings

Digital signage links to external databases like your inventory management system and your order management system. This allows you to optimize menu offerings based on factors like current sales and promotions, current inventory stock, and popularity of an item.

Some applications here might include automatically ordering a menu to display the most popular items on the top. Customers see them sooner and spend less time looking at the menu, so queues speed up. You could also program software to automatically remove items when stock drops too low. Or, prioritize items when you have too much stock.

Linking to external databases like weather, time of day, or train schedules also allows you to optimize menu items and promotions. Is it cold outside? Advertise something warm and hearty like hot drinks or soup. Hot? Try ice cream and salad. You can’t feasibly set aside time to make these updates, but automation inside digital signage can.

While the exact applications heavily depend on the capabilities of your digital signage software, optimized menu offerings are greatly advantageous to restaurants and customers alike. For example, you can ensure your menu never advertises something that’s actually out of stock.

Informing Customers

Quick-service restaurants offer speed as a service, and that requirement for speed is often linked to items such as travel, public transport, or lunch breaks. Digital signage software can link out to external databases, pulling information into menus and queues to keep customers informed.

Some examples might include linking to the order management system to display the estimated time-to-prepare for most food items. Another step could be pulling data from nearby public transport or airport arrivals/departures and sharing what menu items customers can order and still make their train. Or, you could simply share schedules so customers can always see when their options are leaving.

Each of these could help customers make better and more informed decisions while waiting. You can also add in basic infotainment like news, weather, traffic, or other data.

Driving Upsells

Most people won’t have the time to read your full menu, and you don’t want them to. Quick service restaurants are increasingly getting around this option by driving upsells, either with kiosks or with small order-display screens at point-of-sale. Here, digital signage displays the order and then responds by sharing upsells and possible upsells.

Some examples include KFC, which uses small order screens at Point of Sale. When an order is rung in, the display automatically shows add-ons, upgrades, and menu options. Customers see visual advertising for those upsells as they’re ordering.

McDonalds does the same with their self-service kiosks. Here, customers placing an order are automatically shown to menu options as they’re choosing. McDonalds also claims this has increased customer awareness of available menu options.

In both cases, quick service restaurants are using visual advertising to drive sales for drinks, fries, better options, or extras.

Self-Service Kiosks

Self-service kiosks are increasingly popular for quick-service, and for good reason. They speed up queues, reduce demand on personnel, and show each customer more data while they make their order. Self-service kiosks are more expensive and more involved to install than simple digital boards and digital menus, but they have a lot to offer.

Here, customers can simply walk up to a kiosk, choose items from an interactive menu, and then immediately pay. The kiosk is linked to the order management and inventory system, which means orders are automatically transferred to the kitchen. When items run low on stock, they’re either removed from the menu or customers simply can’t order them.

Digital signage is rapidly increasing in popularity, especially as new tools like touchscreen, automation, and smarter uses of data allow businesses to do more with them. This is especially true in quick-service restaurants, where digital signage can cut costs, increase customer satisfaction, and boost advertising and promotional efforts before and during the sale.