In today's technology-focused world, fast food brands have struggled to attract customers and increase sales, especially among the coveted millennial and centennial (Gen Z) demographic of 18-35 year-olds. As is the case with most industries, the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant business is being constantly and drastically reshaped by technology.
Now more than ever, restaurants are not only focused on day-to-day operations, but are tasked with evaluating whether to purchase new technology solutions like digital menu boards, how to implement online ordering, how to create and manage a social media presence, and how to best leverage customer data to create a better experience. All of these initiatives can seem like a lot to take on for one demographic. However, while millennials are more likely than other age groups to demand restaurant-related technology options, they are not the only generation looking for digital upgrades and interactions when dining out.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 63% of Americans have recently used technology options for restaurant dining, and even more have said they are likely to do so when restaurants make these options available. While consumers are increasingly expecting technology integration, companies are often hesitant to buy a newer application or software due to the disruption and cost. There are likely doubts as to whether the investment will directly translate into an increase in sales.
At the same time, industry experts caution that if restaurants wait too long, there is a risk of getting left behind by competitors and customers. “By investing in digital signage now, businesses can future proof to ensure they will be on the cutting edge of the future of the way people will consume information and what they will come to expect from a restaurant experience of the future,” Ron Gazzola, senior vice president of B2B IT sales and marketing at Samsung Electronics America told QSR's Smart Chain in July.
Installation of digital menu boards can be instrumental in helping restaurants upgrade store technology that results in an improved customer experience and streamlined ordering. Although sometimes overlooked, your restaurant menu is the only communication that 100% of your customers will see and consider – driving what they will spend and whether they will return. Useful and visually pleasing menus can go a long way with customers. "Your menu is what you do. It’s your identity,"”" said chef Pat Weber, owner of Mise en Place hospitality consulting firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at National Restaurant Association conference panel.
Beyond being visually pleasing, in large part because of high-definition graphics, digital menu boards can often fit more photos and prices, allowing a better way to communicate information to customers. In addition, with a cloud-based operating system, a corporate office or restaurant operator can continuously customize digital menu boards to rotate offerings, run promotions, or feature higher-profit menu items. The drive-thru and indoor counters can also feature different items to reflect customer buying trends that may differ between dine-in and drive-thru customers.
Digital menu boards also offer restaurants the flexibility to promote cold drinks or ice cream on a hot day or offer a way to celebrate a local sports team win with a special promotion. Seasonal items can also be prominently displayed in conjunction with a social media marketing campaign to drive sales.
Restaurants that have installed digital menu boards have also reported a decrease in customer order times, allowing restaurants to increase their throughput. This time savings, in combination with the sales tools described above, makes digital menu boards a revenue-driving investment.
Upgrading technology can help you differentiate your restaurant and reach a desired demographic in a crowded marketplace. Bailiwick specializes in working with quick-service and fast-casual restaurants in the design and deployment of IT solutions, including digital menu boards and touch-screen ordering technology, customized to help you meet your business goals.