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Driving Sales With Digital Menu Boards

by Mike Pierce | Nov 19, 2013

If you’ve worked in the QSR business for any length of time you know how pictures of food will stimulate sales of an item. Studies show that if you put a picture of an item up in plain sight of the customer, sales of that item will increase by about 15%. Introducing new items with mouth-watering pictures is a hallmark of QSR Marketing. What happens however, after a period of time goes by and many of your customers have seen your menu board and the pictures of food in that same place time and again? Do they still respond? To some extent, yes they do. However, there is a "wear-out" factor.

Limited Time Offers
Avoiding the “wear-out” factor and continually keeping the menu interesting is one of the reasons QSR Marketing departments will use the “Limited Time Offer” strategy. LTO’s rotate new or featured products on and off the menu at specific intervals. Sometimes it’s a 30 day interval and sometimes it’s longer. One reason marketing costs so much is the production of all those pictures and slats (or other materials companies use to put the message up on the menu boards and other parts of the store).

You might not realize all that goes into snapping an appetizing photo of a taco or a hamburger but it is literally an art form. There are food stylists, lighting specialists, photographers, layout and design people, graphic arts folks and many others all working together to create those pictures of great looking food on your menu board. Then add-in the cost of printing those pictures on some high-tech materials that won’t fade, respond well to back lit menu boards or don’t reflect the sun when it comes in your windows …  you have a costly photo that you’re probably going to toss in the trash 30 days from now.

Download Your Promotion:

QSR Marketing departments and their Operations counterparts are increasingly looking at digital menu boards as a solution to that cost, time and trouble. Digital menu boards don’t eliminate the need for shooting great food shots and laying them out in an interesting manner but they do eliminate the production and distribution of those beautiful pictures. A very significant benefit of digital menu boards is how operators can click to download a whole new promotion that can be programmed into the digital menu board in a manner of minutes and without much labor cost at all.

Multi-Dimensional Menu Boards:

Recent improvements in digital displays have decreased their cost and increased resolution and overall picture quality. This has created an opportunity for QSR brands to take a hard look at the ROI of a digital menu board. To add further appeal, digital menu boards don’t have to stay static. Basically, digital menu boards are TV’s depicting the menu. Why not then, use the function of sight, sound and motion to maximize the customer experience and engage them at the point of purchase? Why wouldn’t you show a beautiful video of a soft drink poured over a glass filled with ice or a juicy, steaming hamburger? All of a sudden, your menu board which used to be a very two dimensional pain in the neck has transformed into a multi-dimensional tool that can help you increase sales.

Hardware:

Flat panel displays are fairly inexpensive these days. Flat-panel hardware is becoming a basic commodity but the software is where the magic is made. There are many companies that make content management software but Delphi Display Systems offers the QSR industry an interesting package and the only one of its kind. Bundling the outdoor equipment, indoor equipment and the software Delphi provides the QSR operator with a complete end to end solution for everything needed at the drive-thru including a tough, ruggedized exterior digital menu board as well as the software that accompanies it.

Software:

The user interface or UI as it is called is a big part of the effectiveness of any software program. A friendly UI can make a very complex task easy and this is what you want. QSR operators and marketing departments don’t want to replace the labor cost of a person sliding new pictures in the menu board with an even more costly person trying to load digital images and copy into a content management software program. Delphi’s Engage® platform makes it easy to learn and load new content into a digital display of any kind and it’s scalable to thousands of locations. How much is it worth to sit at your keyboard and actually load the new LTO images into the interior and drive-thru menu boards of 15 stores all with one click? Many franchisors are already looking into the digital menu formats now and considering centralized graphic assets for all locations. That makes the franchisee’s life much easier.

Coming Soon:

Delphi Display Systems has a forward-looking view into how digital menu boards will bring value to the QSR operator and it goes much farther than digitizing the static menu board. One interesting feature is figuring out the optimal way to lay out the menu. Think of website keywords as a parallel. Google constantly provides suggestions to optimize visitation to your website with new keyword suggestions. Delphi has come up with a way to consistently monitor the optimal layout of the store menu board based on sales metrics and new products. Do you sell more fries when they’re placed in the upper right hand corner or the lower right hand corner? Delphi’s Engage® software reads your customer purchase patterns and automatically responds to changes keeping the menu dynamically correct and optimal. How is the new product you just added affecting the other menu items and should it go under one category or another? Delphi’s Engage® software automatically updates the menu and gives the operator optimal positioning of every item on the menu.

Delphi has positioned the digital menu board to be a platform for future technology. While the benefits of converting static boards to digital are many, Delphi looks farther into the future to make menu boards work harder and actually generate revenue for the franchisee/owner.

Considerations When Going Digital:

Content is King and the way you feed content into your menu board makes a world of difference. You may be interested in programming the content yourself or you may want a service to do that. Decide which is right for you before you search for a system. Buying cheap hardware isn’t always the best way to go. Sure, you can purchase a super cheap panel, but remember the air in your restaurant harbors grease, smoke and other particulates that you may not be able to see but will foul-up electronics after time. A more ruggedized display is recommended, especially for food service operations.