Everything You Need From Digital Menu Board Software
The advent of digital menu boards has revolutionized the way businesses engage with their customers, providing a dynamic and visually appealing platform to showcase their offerings. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about digital menu board software, the engine behind your signage that enhances the overall customer experience, increases efficiency, and drives profitability. Join us as we highlight all the key features and functionalities you need in your menu board software solution.
Stellar Content Management
Effectively managing digital menu boards requires nuance, and your software needs to make it simple to account for the differences in your particular stores. Not all of your locations are going to have the same menus (nor should they, if your business is focused on maximizing profitability). Pricing, featured items, and promotions will likely vary based on the location, the time of day, the demographics and preferences of the store’s customers, and even other factors you may not consider like the kind of equipment the restaurant’s kitchen has.
When digital signage first came out 20 or so years ago, menu board software solutions managed massive folder hierarchies of Photoshop files for each particular menu. Think about a quick-service restaurant chain with 50 locations, with 4 screens each. A business like this had to manage 200 total screens, or 200 unique Photoshop files. When so many screens are at play (and as a result, so many files), this method of signage management quickly becomes unwieldy, especially because of how hard it becomes to make universal updates to your signage. This would require editing all 200 Photoshop files and making the same edits in each. To circumvent this challenge, many franchises tried standardizing their menus. However, this came with the downside of leaving revenue on the table as a result of not being able to customize menus to the unique preferences of a particular store’s customers. QSR franchises had to pick their poison: deal with wildly inefficient signage management, or lowered revenue potential.
Fortunately, the paradigm has completely shifted in recent years. Top-of-the-line menu board content management systems (like our Carbon™ solution) are designed to seamlessly manage all of your variants from one location, erasing the need for hundreds of Photoshop files and tedious individual edits. Simply start with one large base of content, and tweak that for each location without having to manage hundreds of files separately.
To manage the unique differences between stores, menus are designed as “modular” within Carbon™. This means that the screen is divided into dozens of zones that can all be populated individually, allowing for intuitive management of menu mix and price differences from store to store, all within the CMS, and without flattening imagery in JPEGs. A powerful menu board CMS needs to have live text within the system, enabling that text to be easily edited from the CMS and other third-party sources (like your POS system).
Your menu board software must enable your business to make large, sweeping changes across a subsection of your locations by region, tier, state, or other sorting criteria in bulk. This makes the implementation of signage adjustments much easier, provides opportunities for comprehensive testing, and ultimately results in more effective signage and improved financial performance for your locations.
Managing menu boards at scale is the single hardest digital signage initiative for a business to manage. Small enterprises (with a dozen stores or less) can get away with more rudimentary or free software that just manages full-screen JPEGs because they only have so many screens to manage. Managing 30 or so screens in this format (assuming each store has a few screens) is possible, but labor-intensive. The issue with managing your signage in this way is that it severely limits your growth potential. Without an intuitive way to manage your signage at scale, you cannot open new locations without a decline in the performance of your signage. When your business is unable to pivot strategies and make adjustments when necessary, its signage is not likely to fulfill its potential.
Imagine having to manage hundreds of stores using Photoshop files. Such an undertaking would require an army and is certainly not the best way to go about growing a business. Your digital menu board software should make managing the signage at your locations easy, enabling you to adjust individual components of your displays at a large scale with the push of a button. This saves you time, money, and headaches as your business looks to grow.
Templates and Customization
Designing new menu boards can be a heavy lift for a business. Look for customizable templates and design tools that simplify the design process. Customization options should include the ability to match branding and choose layouts, fonts, colors, and design elements to create an attractive and unique menu display. It is critical to maintain consistency in your signage and messaging, and custom templates enable you to do so easily and effectively.
Remote Management/Centralized Control
A massive benefit of digital signage is the ability to manage your signage from any location, at any time. This is of course critical for enterprise-level QSRs, as it allows for centralized control of your signage, making it easy to maintain brand consistency across your many stores.
Look for the ability to add individual users to your projects as well. Brands in a franchisee environment may want to grant certain permissions to the franchisee, general manager, or district manager who oversees a particular location. Adding users to your signage software enables your broader team to tweak their store’s signage based on trends they are seeing at the store level while ensuring your brand maintains consistency regarding graphics, layouts, and promotions. Assigning unique user permissions within your CMS ensures your franchisees can adjust their store’s menu boards, while also specifying that they can only edit what they should be allowed to edit.
Your menu board software should be able to seamlessly make rule-based adjustments to alter the menu mix based on external factors that may influence purchasing decisions. For example, if it is a particularly cold day, your store likely wants to promote coffee and hot chocolate. If it is warm, you’ll want to spotlight ice cream. Consider this functionality a bare minimum requirement at the enterprise level. It is sure to drive significant upticks in sales, as well as build rapport with your customers. Your customers will appreciate your business promoting items that are relevant to them at any given time.
AI and Machine Learning Driven Menu Development
A great digital menu board software platform can integrate with your POS system to create a positive feedback loop. As your POS system provides more and more sales data, your system should be able to identify which creatives are driving more sales. By leveraging machine learning, your system should be able to create a signage playlist that maximizes sales potential. This enables your business to take a data-driven approach to its menu boards and creatives while improving profitability across locations.
Your software should also provide comprehensive analytics and reporting on content performance, and how your signage is impacting sales. This empowers your business to determine which creatives are received well by customers, and which ones are not. This data can inform your future messaging and testing decisions. For example, if you notice that certain language is driving more sales, you can expand the use of that language to other locations to reap additional benefits. The beauty of digital signage is how easy it is to swap out creatives and conduct tests. If you are not closely monitoring the performance of your visuals and testing new ones, you are not using your signage to its full potential.
Content Playback Control
Content playback control includes features like zoning (dividing the screen into sections for different content), looping, and playback duration. These features allow you to create presentations and motion graphics that engage and delight your customers.
A word of warning: ensure your digital menu board software enables you to easily specify playback rhythm across multiple screens.
Motion is a great tool for driving engagement, but do not go overboard. If you have four screens in your store, you do not want all four screens utilizing motion at the same time. This can confuse your customers and split their attention between the screens, minimizing the impact of your creatives. Specify a certain rhythm for motion between your screens, and be sure not to overwhelm your customers. If you would like to learn more about some digital signage design ideas and best practices, check out our recent guide!
Dayparting enables businesses to display specific content at different times of the day. For instance, a coffee shop can showcase breakfast items in the morning and switch to evening offerings later in the day. Make sure your menu board software offers the ability to create an unlimited number of dayparts to meet your customer’s unique preferences. Also verify that you can edit your daypart times by day of the week (on weekends, breakfast may be served later than weekdays, for example). If your business offers special promotions based on the date, make sure you have the ability to segment based on that criteria as well. Your menu board CMS should not place restrictions on your ability to daypart, as such restrictions can greatly limit your business’s profitability and ability to meet its customer’s changing needs.
Although you may not consider it at first, strong customer support and training resources are essential for addressing any issues or questions that may arise during your digital signage journey. Many digital menu board software solutions fail to properly prioritize support, and this can lead to headaches and confusion for their users and a decline in signage performance in stores.
At DEEL Media, we recognize the importance of customer support and understand that when your business submits a support inquiry, you need help now, not seven days from now. Our industry-leading support team is ready and waiting to help your team within minutes of your request. We are much more than a plug-and-play signage provider, we are a trusted partner for all of your signage needs. Look to partner with a provider that can help you through every step of the signage process and has your business’s best interests in mind.
In case of internet outages or network issues, the software should have an “offline mode” to continue displaying content from local storage or cached data. Your media players need to be able to download and cache their playlists so that if you lose internet connection or have poor bandwidth, your boards continue to work as needed. You likely don’t think of “offline mode” as a priority, but it can be an incredibly valuable tool in a pinch.
In today's hypercompetitive restaurant landscape, the right digital menu board software is more than just a tool; it's a strategic asset that empowers your business to thrive and differentiate itself from the competition. By carefully considering the features and functionalities we’ve discussed and selecting a solution that aligns with your unique needs, you can enhance customer engagement, streamline operations, and improve profitability for your business, whether that be in your store, at the drive-thru, or both.
If you are looking for a solution that will help your business accomplish just that, DEEL Media has the solution for you. Our comprehensive Carbon CMS is the industry’s premier tool for managing your digital menu boards and is trusted by major players in the industry. We work with some of the world’s leading QSRs to deliver stunning, effective signage displays, and we’d love to work with you as well. If you are interested in learning more about the work that we do at DEEL Media and how we can help take your business’s signage to the next level, schedule time to meet with our team or give us a call at 770-619-1225.
What is Digital Signage, And How is it Different From Regular Signage?
What is Digital Signage, And How is it Different From Regular Signage?
In technical terms, digital signage refers to the use of digital displays or screens to present information, advertisements, or other forms of content. It involves the use of technologies such as LCD, LED, or projection screens to display multimedia content, including images, videos, text, and interactive elements. Simply put, it is a more engaging way to display messages than traditional signage.
You can find digital signage everywhere, from retail stores, to airports, to hotels, to restaurants, to schools. It serves as a dynamic and flexible communication tool that allows businesses and organizations to deliver targeted messages to their audience.
The first key difference between digital signage and run-of-the-mill signage is the ability to display crystal-clear, dynamic content. This can completely transform the experience of a shopper, visitor, or whoever is viewing your signage. The bright display is hard to ignore, especially when it is in video format. Digital signage is simply more effective at attracting attention than conventional signage. Think about your personal experiences. Which menu board do you think commands more attention, a chalkboard with the day’s specials, or a visual display with bright colors and real, moving imagery showcasing one of the day’s specials?
Beyond higher engagement, another major difference between digital signage and traditional signage is the flexibility provided by digital signage. Rather than taking down your signage every time you want to communicate a new message or make an edit, digital signage enables you to store all of your content in one centralized location, and make changes to display with the push of a button. This makes life considerably easier for any organization that runs promotions or is frequently making tweaks to its offerings.