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 boards 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 display board?
Digital Menu – Screen visibility
We design our screens for indoor use, and they can operate non-stop throughout the year (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year). They also have certification for use in areas where food preparation takes place, as they withstand heat and grease effectively.
These screens must be bright enough (at least 500 nits) to display menu items in clear, accurate colors. When we place screens next to each other, they need to present menus in consistent colors. Since customers stand close to the screens, we usually limit their size to 55 inches.
Furthermore, the screens should feature very slim borders, making them appear as a single, large display when placed together, typically in a horizontal layout. This creates the effect of one big screen for information sharing. We coordinate the content across these screens, with each one displaying a part of the overall message.
With customers spending more time indoors, they get plenty of chances to view the content on these screens before making their order decisions.
Content editing using a smartphone – Versatility
QL digital signage software allows for easy management of content. For instance, you can quickly take a photo of the daily menu and post it right away, turn the display of certain products on or off, or send out a quick message from your smartphone. If a screen stops working, its content can be moved to another screen, which will then show the extra content in a loop. However, because many customers view the digital menu board together indoors, a lot of the interactive features available for outdoor menus aren’t suitable for use inside.
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
Each screen usually shows either static or dynamic content in a sequence. To avoid confusing customers, it’s crucial to display all products on all screens at the same time. This need for synchronization is vital for indoor digital menu boards in restaurants. Without it, the screens could overwhelm customers, much like trying to listen to several people speaking simultaneously. Navori QL software can automatically synchronize all types of screens, ensuring they display content smoothly and in unison.
We also automatically customize the content on indoor menu boards based on the time of day and the day of the week. This approach aims to tailor the products on offer to suit different eating occasions. By using a digital menu board with Navori QL software, we can even automate the management of promotion dates. This means we can activate a product promotion on the day it’s scheduled and deactivate it afterward.
The digital menu board showcases dynamic, not static, content. It starts with a database that includes details like product names, their nutritional facts, prices, and photos.
For restaurant chains, professionally taken and approved photos of menu items are used. On the other hand, independent restaurants might use their smartphones to snap pictures of their dishes and then upload these directly to the menu list using QL Mobile.
When a restaurant is connected to inventory management software, QL software can automatically fetch the product list, often including current stock levels. With the help of filters in QL Designer, any menu item that runs out of stock is automatically turned off from the display until more stock is available.
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
Restaurants can use cameras with technology like Aquaji to count visitors and learn about their demographics, such as age and gender. They can also see how long people wait for service. The system updates display content to entertain waiting customers. This helps restaurants plan their staffing to keep wait times short and improve customer experiences.
If a customer waits too long, the system instantly alerts the manager. This ensures a quick response to delays, maintaining customer satisfaction.
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.
Which is the better hardware option: an external media player or a system on a chip?
The second major benefit of all-in-one screens is their cost, which can be at least 40% lower than using an external media player. This cost efficiency is a key reason why many restaurants opt for a System on Chip (SoC) solution.
However, the downside of an all-in-one solution is its limited power output, about half of what external media players offer. This limitation means not all graphic designs or animations are feasible with an SoC due to its lower power capacity. For instance, playing multiple videos on one screen simultaneously might not be possible.
Another challenge is maintenance. When an SoC encounters problems, it’s more difficult to handle compared to an external digital signage player. External players can be easily replaced during business hours since they’re often managed remotely, whereas fixing an SoC might require taking the screen apart, which is more complex and time-consuming.