Successful restaurants recognize that the path to their customers' stomachs begins in their minds. They need to grab a customer's attention and craft a memorable experience in order to trigger repeat visits. Digital signage is one way to accomplish that, said Grant Gustke, regional vice president of The Howard Company. He believes digital signage can help with:
Localized marketing. Focusing on high-margin items. Greater menu exposure. Social media and customer loyalty integration. Integration with inventory management systems and point-of-sale And drawing a customer's attention with crisp videos. Frank Amoruso, managing director of Acrelec, agreed, saying that mentions that restaurants can use digital signage for promotions, update menu boards, reduce wait times and offer services to non-English speakers.
"By using media enhancements such as rotating pictures and videos, customers get to know the brand much better than with static boards," Gutske said.
Despite these benefits, restaurant operators shouldn't fall into the trap of believing that digital signage is all they need.
"It's important to come at this from the perspective that brands are now addressing their entire digital enterprise; working through digital transformation strategies. It's no longer about just changing your static menu to a digital sign with moving pictures," Amoruso said. "It's about having a strategic view of the entire customer interaction and how to integrate all the potential customer touchpoints (the drive thru, indoor environment, mobile ordering, customer loyalty, website and social media/marketing campaigns) to create a stellar customer experience."
There are multiple challenges to deploying digital signage in restaurants. The most obvious concern is the cost of entry. It can be particularly high, especially depending on the size of the deployment. Another issue is getting customers on board.
"Correlating to all demographics is sometimes a challenge. Some customers will embrace the change and others with resist the change," Gutske said. "The challenge is to slowly introduce the new platform/look/and ordering process and appease all customers."
Another challenge is finding the right company to handle deployment. Amoruso said a vendor should "understand the full end-to-end transformation and how everything needs to work together."
The challenges, however, can be overcome via preparation.
Preparing for digital signage
Restaurateurs need to prepare carefully for any deployment of digital signage, whether small or large. In a previous story, executives from Subway and Dairy Queen pointed out the results of improper preparation. Subway for example, deployed a number of menu boards without running a pilot test. The franchise, thus, had no time to test out different types of content or to test if all of its locations could handle the menu boards.
One of the keys is to have all your research done first, according to Gutske.
"Showing a hard ROI is very difficult because it is hard to prove why items increased, was it the product or was it the menu board? The key is to have a clear objective," Gutske said. "By doing this the customer would save thousands in the long run and have a more beneficial digital system in place."