Indoor Digital Menu Boards: How They Work
In recent years, all fast-food restaurants have switched from printed signs to digital menu boards inside their restaurants. More recently still, the appearance of interactive kiosks has allowed visitors to place an order and track its delivery via a number assigned by the system to each order.
What is the main advantage of the digital menu board compared with a printed menu? Undoubtedly, its versatility. Use dayparting to offer the right products for different consumption occasions, which vary depending on the time of day. Because it can show variable, dynamic content, it is now possible to display photos of peripheral products, such as impulse items or upsells.
What are the specific features of an indoor digital menu board?
Digital Menu - Screen visibility
The screens used are traditional indoor displays, certified for continuous use, 24×7/365. They are also certified by the screen manufacturers to operate in a food-related environment with a tolerance for heat and grease.
Their brightness should be at least 500 nits, with faithful colour reproduction for the menu items shown. Screens positioned side by side must be able to display menus with the same colour settings. Since customers are closer to the screens, the size is generally limited to 55 inches.
Finally, ideally, the edges of the screens must be as thin as possible so that visitors see all screens as one, generally displayed in landscape mode, as a single communications device. Content display is synchronized across the screens, each playing the content assigned to it.
Customers’ exposure time is longer indoors, giving them more time to explore the content before they place their order.
Content editing using a smart phone - Versatility
QL software offers content control, for example taking a photo of the menu of the day and posting it immediately, activating or deactivating the display of certain products or publishing an express message. If one screen fails, its content can be easily transferred to another screen, which will display the additional content in rotation. However, since the digital menu board is seen by several customers at the same time, much of the interactivity used for outdoor menu boards does not apply indoors.
Two types of content
Content is generally split into two parts:
Permanent menu items or meal deals and combos are often shown as fixed items, i.e. not on rotation.
Seasonal or promotional menus scroll and are generally animated. If the restaurant has order terminals, the order number and its status through to delivery are shown and updated in real time.
Content synchronization across several screens
Typically, each screen shows static or dynamic content on several rotations. It is essential for all the products to rotate on all the screens at the same time to avoid confusing customers. This is why synchronisation is needed for indoor digital menu boards. Screens without synchronization are as confusing as several people all speaking to you at the same time. Navori QL software can synchronize all types of screen automatically.
The content shown on indoor menu boards is also customised automatically, depending on the time and day of the week. The aim is to adjust the products on offer for different consumption occasions. A digital menu board combined with Navori QL software can also manage promotion dates automatically, i.e. activate a product on the day it is being promoted and then deactivate it.
The digital menu board does not display a static image. Instead, it uses dynamic content. The starting point is a table listing all the products, their nutritional values, their prices and one or more photos.
Restaurant chains produce and approve photos of their menu items while independent restaurants will take photos of their dishes with a smartphone, using QL Mobile to insert them into the list of available items.
If the restaurant uses inventory management software, the list of products will be picked up automatically by the QL software, generally with information on stock levels. Thanks to the filters available in QL Designer, a menu item that is out of stock will be automatically deactivated until the stock is replenished
The final menu design is done using a content editor, such as QL Template Designer. Products or groups of products are incorporated into the graphic design and then updated in real time when it is displayed. With Navori QL, creating content for an indoor digital menu board is quick and easy. Dynamically integrating previously created content into QL Designer will take less than an hour.
Using computer vision to improve staff performances and customer experience
Adding cameras with computer vision software, such as Aquaji, makes it possible to count every individual, determine the demographics of visitors, such as age and gender, measure how long they will wait before being served and adjust the content played while they are waiting. These metrics can help the restaurant assign the optimal level of human resources based on a waiting time defined in advance as the restaurant’s target, to maintain the customer’s quality of experience.
If a customer has been waiting too long or for longer than a period that has been predefined in the system, an alert can be sent to the manager.
Which is the better hardware option: an external media player or a system on a chip?
The advantage of the system on a chip is its simplicity. This is a screen with an integrated media player. Each screen is independent, to provide maximum flexibility in the case of continuous use. Even if one screen fails, the others will take over.
The second advantage of all-in-one screens is the price, which will be at least 40% cheaper than an external media player. This is why most restaurants use an SoC.
The disadvantage of an all-in-one is its power output, which is limited to about 50% of that of external media players. Not all graphic creations or animations will necessarily be possible with an SoC, because of a lack of power. Combining several videos on a single screen, for example, is impossible.
Another inconvenience, in terms of maintenance, is that an SoC is also more complicated to manage if there is a breakdown. Dismantling screens is not as simple as replacing a media player, which is often hosted remotely and can be replaced during working hours.