• Nikki Ault

The Digital Solution To The Print Problem

In the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) world, things change more quickly than a toddler's mind in a toy store (for those of you with kids, you know just how fast that is).

New menu items are offered, other menu items are taken away; prices increase or even decrease based on a multitude of things; and some locations may have different offerings based upon their location, season, or inventory.

With all of these changes, it is easy to see how designing and printing menu boards and marketing materials such as posters, table toppers, and static promotional signs to keep up with the many changes can be an exhausting process.

What is the digital solution to this print problem? Digital signage of course.

Why We Like Digital Signage For The QSR Industry

Lower Perceived Wait Time: Living in a time when everything is expected now, it is interesting to believe that wait times in a QSR are higher now, than it was in 2007 (from an average of 203 seconds to 222 seconds). That perceived wait time doesn't mean much however with the introduction of digital signage.

Digital signage can be used to decrease perceived wait time by 35% through the use of relevant content that can entertain their customer during this "wait" time.

Cost Reductions: Lyle Bunn, one of the industry's most influential people, pointed out in his downloadable book entitled, Dynamic Signage in Food Services, that "Costs are reduced in the publishing, distribution, posting and disposal of printed static signs, with 100% assurance of message posting."

The time and money spent on printing promotional static signage every time something changes or for new items, is astronomical. Not to mention the cost of designing new printed materials along with those changes and the charge for shipping and delivering those printed signs to all the locations you need to.

Digital Signage can cut out all of those additional costs and you can make all of these changes, or upsell and promote items, using your content management system. There will be an upfront cost, however the return on investment typically outweighs that cost.

Return on Investment (ROI): Commercialintegrator.com highlights three specific stats that lead to a ROI when digital signage is implemented.

Studies show that installing a digital menu board can boost overall sales by 3 to 5 percent, and much higher on specific promoted items.

15 percent of restaurants report an increase in number of customers after installing a digital menu. In fact, of adults who’ve seen a digital sign in the past month, 70 percent have made an unplanned purchase based on the information they received.

Digital Signage Today boasts the same sales increase statistic reflecting on the ROI: Restaurants typically see a 3-5 percent increase in any digitally promoted item on menu boards, suggesting that the digital signage system usually pays for itself in one year or less.

Immediate Updates: When using printed promotional items, if a change has to be made, there is typically a time lag due to new designs, approval, printing, shipping, receiving, and actually putting the new signage up. Digital signage takes a significant portion of that lag time out. (New designs are still needed with approval).

Content can be delivered remotely to any screen, with any message, at any time with 100% compliance of message presentation. You can also utilize digital signage to deliver emergency or safety messaging immediately or to update staff with any policy changes immediately.

Scheduled Menu Displays: Digital signage allows you to change out your specific menus easily and completed on a scheduled time frame (dayparting) to take the thought out of it.

If your breakfast menu needs changed to a lunch or dinner menu this can be done through your content management system and displayed accordingly to all locations based on their time schedule or time zone.

This also allows you to promote a specific product based upon weather, audience, geographic area, or time of day.

Environmental Savings: Eliminating, or reducing, printed static signage means less landfill and printed waste, which will be a huge savings. Also, reducing your carbon footprint caused by the mode of shipping used for your printed signage every time you need them will create an environmental savings.

Sure you are using electricity with digital signage, however LED displays are very energy efficient and offer power saving features like sleep modes or automatic brightness adjusting based on the time of day or sun exposure (if used in windows or outside).

Menu Labeling Compliance: As the FDA is finalizing the menu labeling laws, six years in the making, nutritional information is going to be required to be posted on menus. Digital signage allows you to easily abide by displaying the required information next to each menu item, as well as makes for easy changes should new menu items be introduced or recipes change for current items. This can also be controlled regionally as well as nationally depending on where each location is.

A Case For The Digital Solution

Dave Haynes, Founder and Editor of the Sixteen:Nine blog, posted a blog entitled "Solving Menu Board Challenges...With Print???" In this article, he highlights a story by Retail Touchpoints which states:

Bakery franchise Auntie Anne’s is leveraging Print On Demand technology from retail marketing services provider GSP to print customizable menu boards that can contain content specific to each of its 900 locations.

With the Print On Demand solution, Auntie Anne’s can:

· Process all menu board requests through a single system;

· Make it easy for users to select products sold at individual locations;

· Space product text correctly and maximize images for design purposes; and

· Adjust pricing for local variations and test new items without compromising brand consistency.

“We needed a more convenient solution for ordering menu boards to help us stay competitive,” said Meredith Wenz, Director of Marketing for Auntie Anne’s. “The existing process did not allow for all of the product variations and the numerous franchise requests that could overload our marketing and creative teams.”

Dave's response:

"Or you put in screens, set up with a CMS, and this stuff happens without the cost, time lag, paper usage or carbon footprint of delivery trucks and cars getting those menus to shopping malls and other spots – maybe multiple times a year.

Maybe it’s just me, but this just seems so weird to read how print is sold as the solution to a problem resolved far better and more efficiently by digital. Particularly when a lot of the QSR industry has already cut over to digital menu displays."

We agree Dave! While the print on demand solution is one approach Auntie Anne's can take, its like having a good, and a better option. Print on demand is a good solution, but digital signage is a better solution.

The bottom line, you want your customers to be satisfied to the point that they will become return customers, in turn, increasing your sales. Increased sales are no good, if you are spending your revenue on a solution that is being phased out by technology.

Is print going anywhere anytime soon? No. Has a case for a digital solution been made? I think so.

If you would like further information regarding digital signage for your quick service or fast casual restaurant, feel free to consult one of our subject matter experts at Coffman Media.

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