All you need to know about digital menu boards for restaurant

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Food pricing showing on digital menu board


Digital menu boards, an increasingly familiar sight in the Food & Beverage industry, especially at Quick-Service Restaurants (QSRs), give a dynamic edge to items on offer, including promos and associated events, if any.

In this guide, I will cover everything you need to know about digital menu boards, right from choosing an efficient interface to designing an engaging menu board accessible to all!

What is a digital menu board?

Digital menu boards are digital variants of traditional chalk or paper menus. A digital menu board uses electronic displays such as LED or LCD flat screens or video walls to display the offerings of a restaurant or food shop.

Electronic menu boards provide a more dynamic and engaging customer experience. They have huge advantages over traditional static menu boards. For instance, digital menus reduce printing costs and paper wastage, errors are easy to rectify, and real-time updates like removing sold items from the menu can be done in a matter of seconds!

Besides, digital menu boards are incredibly appealing to customers due to the screens’ high resolution and brightness.

Off late, most restaurants & QSRs like Subway, Burger King, and Mcdonald’s have deployed digital menu boards to improve their customer experience.

How do digital menu boards work?

Digital menu boards usually work by using media players and software. However, there are different ways a menu can be displayed on a screen.

First is the crudest way:

  • Design a digital menu

  • Load the menu on a USB drive in a soft-copy format.

  • Plug the USB into a TV screen or commercial monitor.

  • Play the menu.

It works just like presenting a slide on a screen. But there are many downsides to USB-mediated playback.

That’s why it is recommended to use digital menu board software to drive the content on the displays. There are all kinds of software:

  • it can be a standard digital signage software that allows both creating and publishing of menus, or

  • it can be an interactive menu software that facilitates self-ordering,

  • or it can have both features.

For instance, Pickcel is a digital signage software with a unique digital menu board app that allows creating of electronic menus and publishing them on screens.

It also offers interactive touchscreen solutions that can be used for restaurant self-ordering.

How to set up a digital menu board?

Setting up a digital menu board involves various considerations, such as costs, industry-specific requirements, content management interface, etc. Here are some elements to consider while setting up your digital menu display.

Step 1: Determine the ROIs

Before setting up a digital menu board system, it is vital to determine the goals and expected ROIs. It, in turn, helps in deciding the size and placement of the displays and the type of content to be displayed.

For example, a restaurant that wants to promote its daily specials may opt for a smaller digital menu board near the entrance. In contrast, a fast food chain with multiple locations may require a more extensive network of menu boards controlled centrally through a cloud dashboard.

Step 2: Budgeting

Selecting the right digital displays, media players, and software compatible with business-specific needs is crucial. Along with that comes the cost considerations. For instance, entry-level menu board displays can cost around $300 to $1000 for sizes ranging from 32 to 55 inches.

However, if you are tech-savvy or have tech support, then Raspberry Pi can be a great cost-effective hardware to set up your digital menu boards. Its compact size and low power consumption make it an attractive option.

Step 3: Installing the hardware and software

Just like any digital signage system, the setup of a digital menu board includes:

  • Installing the digital displays & mounting them securely

  • Connecting the displays to the media players, if required

  • Pairing the devices with the digital menu board software or the signage content management system

  • And finally, testing the hardware and software to check the content rendering and an interface that runs it all.

While selecting the right software, businesses must look for features such as remote updating & troubleshooting and system integration with third-party software such as PoS & billing systems, inventory management system, etc.

Step 4: Content management

a laptop screen shows the pickcel menu app interface; the same menu is displayed on a digital menu board in the background
Pickcel digital menu board app interface shows how you can quickly update your menus

Once the digital menu board for your restaurant is all set to showcase the menus, offers & promos, you have to make optimal use of your content management system, aka digital signage software, aka digital menu board software.

This may include:

  • Creating a proper content strategy

  • Using the design tools to create menus

  • Scheduling & dayparting the menus on each screen

  • Using analytics tools to measure the effectiveness of the content

Benefits of implementing digital menu boards

Some of the perks of incorporating digital menu boards into a restaurant business are as follows:

  • The most significant benefit of digital menu signs is scalability and automation. Content can be published on hundreds and thousands of screens within a minute. Screens can be located in different cities across the globe, and still, it will take only minutes to publish the content. This is particularly useful for franchises and restaurant chains with a large number of outlets.

  • Another advantage of digital menu boards is their ability to go in for frequent content refreshes. This allows you to A/B test different menus and update the latest changes such as Today’s special, Sold Out, flash sales, and more!

  • Electronic menu boards can up-sell high-margin items that may be overlooked on traditional menus. For example, a take-out place may use digital menu displays to promote premium menu items or add-ons with a higher profit margin alongside regularly purchased items. This can be done using visual stimulators such as food preparation videos & high-quality HD, ultra-HD, or 4K images.

  • Interactive digital menu boards can provide insights into customer behavior, such as popularly ordered items, average order value, most active time, and ordering trends. This can help restaurants make data-driven decisions about their menu and pricing strategies.

  • Build excitement around product launches & marketing campaigns using flash sales, gamified digital discounts, contests, countdown timers, etc., encouraging customers to make an immediate purchase.

Integrating digital menu board system with other technology

API integrations can connect digital menu boards with other business tools & software systems, such as PoS software, self-ordering systems, and inventory management systems. Integrations allow quick data movement between the systems, creating intelligent restaurant ecosystems.

This could help:

  • deliver personalized recommendations

  • take logical and data-backed product & pricing decisions

  • assess marketing campaign success

  • reduce the burden of manual tasks & deploy resources efficiently

Catch the yummy match!

Signage technology has rapidly evolved in recent years, offering restaurants a range of opportunities to improve the customer experience, streamline operations, and increase sales.

Future trends may include more personalized and interactive features, such as Artificial Intelligence-powered recommendations based on customer preferences or augmented reality overlays that allow customers to see the food they are ordering in 3D. The future of a true gastronomical journey is here! Where are you at?!

Are you looking for an efficient digital menu board solution? Pickcel can be a game-changer. Sign up for a free trial today or book a call with us for a free demo & consultation.

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Shivangi Chatterjee

Shivangi writes for Pickcel. She consumes knowledge on the world of business & marketing at the same rate she consumes her cups of coffee. When she is not writing, you will find her reading books, grooving to music or admiring art.

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