McDonald’s first implemented digital signage in 2007, making the organization one of the first major companies to implement it as a mainstream thing. Today, McDonald’s invests billions into touchscreens and digital menus yearly, leading the curve in terms of touchscreens, kiosk capabilities, and offerings.
All of this is for good reason, with claims that self-service kiosks greatly improve customer understanding of menus and options, boosting sales over traditional ordering options. McDonald’s is upgrading 1000 stores every quarter to feature digital signage and self-service kiosks, until 2022.
Other major brands, including Walmart, Walgreens, Home Depot, Target, Intel, Coca Cola, and many more are following similar paths. The world’s major food service and retail brands are investing significant portions of revenue (McDonald’s itself invested over a year of revenue) into digital signage. Why?
Improved Customer Service
Digital signage allows businesses to deliver information in real time, without a wait, and without having to rely on staff. This can take many forms, ranging from sourcing information at self-help kiosks for travel, wayfinding, or to answer questions. It can also result in ordering forms and direct interaction with resource management and order management systems, allowing customers to book rooms, order food, order products, and make reservations, without ever asking for help.
This can speed up queues and reduce wait times, but also caters to the human desire to help themselves. Most people are happier when they don’t have to ask for help, but can still choose it as an option.
Digital signage also boosts customer satisfaction in other ways. Customers can get advice, look for information, and see wait times without ever having to wait and ask. Customers can look for information and place orders without having to wait in line or deal with a clerk. And, customers can ask for information, see schedules, and order promotions and advertisement items right from screens promoting that content.
Real-time data is probably one of the biggest selling points for digital signage. Real-time information allows any organization to ensure information is up-to-date, relevant, and informative. That means no more advertising products that are out of stock, instant (and free) updates to incorrect ads, and algorithms to display data in a way that drives sales. What does that look like in real life implementations?
- Billboards that update based on car model or color
- Menus that update based on time of day or queue length and time-to-cook
- Product advertisement that updates when items are low in stock
- Advertisements based on weather
- Advertisements taking events into account
Each of these has dozens of implementations depending on industry, but all of them allow you to offer more personalization, better service, and more value to customers.
A fast-food restaurant could integrate digital menus with queue sensors to change menus when queue lines get too long. Items that take longer to prepare or to choose can be removed from the menu during those times, speeding up queue times. And, digital signage menus, which are typically larger and more interactive, allow customers to make better choices before they finish queuing.
Most importantly, digital signage updates can be changed automatically, using algorithms based on customer data, weather, and other factors.
Digital signage is more engaging than static signage, with studies referencing anything from about 40% to an over 400% increase depending on medium and media (video, audio, etc.). This is, in part, linked to digital signage’s role in creating “evoked atmosphere”, or using imagery and media to engage with customers, put them in the mood to buy, or otherwise attempt to evoke emotion.
Digital signage also has the ability to share real information as it occurs or happens. Stores like Walmart increasingly utilize tools like real-time comparison based on shelved or held products. Customers can quickly compare items, see peer reviews, and see information about alternatives, while standing in the store.
Engagement also serves to boost customer satisfaction, usually through distraction. The oft-cited fact that queues with digital signage reduce perceived wait times by as much as 35% relates to distracting customers with ads, infotainment, and entertainment.
While increasing proliferation of digital screens will bring engagement down from novelty value levels of 400% increases, digital signage is naturally more engaging. It allows you to utilize personalization, engagement, to ask questions, and to drive direct interaction, which will always be more memorable than a static sign.
Does digital signage increase sales? Normally, the answer heavily depends on how you implement it. Here, digital signage can greatly increase sales in the case of digital menus and screens that help customers make better decisions by offering more information.
Self-service kiosks allow customers to spend more time on options, without facing pressure to make a decision more quickly. And, studies show that more time spent on an order means a bigger order. Many self-service kiosks also include prompts to upsell, with digital versions of “would you like fries with that” to prompt better sales.
Of course, not all digital signage initiatives are designed around boosting sales, and they shouldn’t be. Many organizations see benefits in terms of reduced demand on customer service, happier customers, and a reduced need for staff. But, increased sales is definitely an option if you can use signage to push promotions, drive awareness of order options, and allow consumers more time to make choices.
Digital signage is quickly being adopted the world over. With a nearly 8% year over year growth rate, it’s also growing quickly and not set to stop anytime soon. Digital displays add value to most industries, with new features and services, better data management, and simple user interfaces, allowing nearly anyone to interact with and update content. Each of these will drive value, especially as the digital signage market continues to grow and mature, resulting in cheaper hardware and software solutions.