Industry evaluations and case studies contain valuable lessons, shared here, about the strong impact that the introduction and strategic placement of digital signs and the arrays of plasma-screen digital signage and narrowcasting products and features can have on the time that it takes customers to make their purchase decisions in the fast-food or quick service restaurant (QSR) industry.
The Nature of the QSR Business
We’ve all been to quick fast-food restaurants and other similar food outlets, like snack bars and concession stands at sporting events, that are designed to serve us food in a hurry so that we can get on with our lives or get back to the event. To understand the impact that introducing electronic signs and display screens can have in order to expedite this process and reduce the time it takes for us to order and pay for our food, we can look at the nature of the QSR business and experience from the perspectives of both customer and retailer.
From the Customer’s Perspective. A customer approaches the counter at the local coffee shop,
fast-food restaurant or concession stand and is greeted with a long list of items on a standard menu board. The type is small and runs together, making it hard for the customer to see all the options available. The wide range of choices can be overwhelming. As this customer takes time to ponder his or her purchase, other customers are joining the line or idling their cars in the the drive-through lane waiting for their chance to place an order. Especially during peak hours impatience mounts. Some customers or potential customers may opt not to endure the prolonged wait it can sometimes make for others make their purchase decisions and place orders – particularly when time seems to be at a premium. At a minimum the customer’s QSR experience is diminished, meaning he or she will be less apt to become a repeat customer – not to mention the harm prolonged idling in the drive-through lane does to both the environment and the customer’s nerves and wallet, given the price of gas these days.
From the Retailer’s Perspective. Indecisive customers slow down the service line. Long lines cause frustration among other customers, turn potential customers away and can have a negative impact on customer experience within the restaurant, affecting future patronage and both present and future revenues. To the extent that customer impatience boils over, more time and staff resources (and potentially management time and resources) are spent dealing with defusing customer relation hassles.
And don’t forget, customer impatience can become infectious! Additionally, in locations, like coffee shops or concessions, high-margin items that customers add to their purchase at the last minute are displayed in cases that may be obscured by long lines. When customers finally get to the front, they are faced with still more choice and have to begin their decision-making process once again, slowing down transaction speed still further. In such locations, digital signs and plasma displays narrowcasting menu choices and selections have a double benefit, speeding up the lines and providing additional marketing opportunities to promote these high-margin, impulse items, thereby giving a double boost to revenue streams.
How Digital Menu Boards Can Help
In the QSR industry, the purchase decision is critical for both customers and retailers. Customers need help wading through options to make their purchase decisions, and – from both the customer’s and the retailer’s perspective. – to make those decisions quickly This is, after all, a quick service restaurant environment. Retailers also want customers to include high-margin add-ons in their purchase decisions. Customers, and more particularly retailers, have a vested interest in increasing purchase and transaction speeds as well as revenues.
The introduction of digital signage, digital menu boards and narrowcasting networks into a QSR retail location can address and expedite all of these interests.
Studies have proven that digital signs not only get attention, but affect purchase decisions. QSRs are ideally suited to this type of marketing. Nothing gets a person’s attention like a full-color image of food. Whether it is a dessert being drizzled with chocolate or a burger sizzling on the grill, the imagery makes people watch and buy. (And don’t forget, overwhelmingly these customers are already hungry and primed. The old admonishment from our mothers will likely prove true: our eyes will be bigger than our stomachs in most instances.)
Digital menu boards can highlight high-margin items, combos or items on special. The retailer benefits by promoting these items and the customer receives guidance on which item to buy.
Digital signage and plasma displays are visible to everyone, even those at the back of the line. It can help customers make their purchase decision faster, ensuring that transactions are quick and the customer line keeps moving.
With evermore sophisticated digital marketing software, digital menu boards and display screens can be programmed so that they are time-sensitive, placing real-time marketing emphasis on particular products and menu items that will have to be discarded as they approach the end of their shelf-life, or to reflect menu changes – say, between breakfast and lunch menus, when some unsold items (like egg sandwiches) will have to be discarded.
Digital Menu Boards Are an Easy Solution
For some people the thought of technology is intimidating. In the case of digital signage, there is no reason to worry. The hardware is getting easier to use and less expensive than ever, and the best digital marketing software aimed at driving up revenues and reducing wait times is user-friendly even while its marketing capabilities become increasingly sophisticated
The best digital signage providers will generally be able to provide integrated hardware and soft ware solutions – integrated solutions that provide both the menu boards, screens and displays a retailer will need, as well as digital marketing software and content with user-friendly options for content management. Using templates or custom content, retailers can easily update the messages on their digital menu boards in a timely manner. The best integrated system will automatically respond to predictable real-time variables to reduce wait-times and drive up revenues, and they will easily be able to be reprogrammed to accommodate unpredictability in traffic flow.
If a bus load of tourists comes into your QSR outlet, everyone wants to get them in and out as quickly as possible – the retailer, the servers, other customers, the tourists themselves and even the bus driver. Why not boost your revenue while turning an all-to-common but dreaded QSR “problem” into a win-win-win solution?