The Stats Behind Digital Signage For Restaurants

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We all know that digital signage and QSR / Fast Casual restaurants are a match made in heaven.

But I like data. And I’m guessing you do too.

I like to know that digital signage actually works in these settings, rather than looking at the digital signage adoption rates and assuming it’s driving revenue for those companies.

Sure, we can look at company case studies (always interesting), but what about third-party reports on the effectiveness?

The thing that gets me is that digital signage has measurable advantages in providing quality customer service and boosting profits.

So, here are those stats all in one place.

A quick note: most of the stats and examples in this article will be drawn from quick service and fast-casual restaurants, as these groups been the first branches of the restaurant industry to really adopt digital signage, so the most comprehensive research has already been done about these.

However, many other businesses within the food industry—from cafés to bars to bakeries—can also potentially benefit from using digital signage because digital signage is inherently attention-grabbing.

Before we get into the specifics of the various technologies, let’s talk about some general benefits to employing digital signage in a restaurant setting.

General Advantages

Recently, many major food chains are rolling-out digital menus and ordering kiosks.

As of 2011, a survey of 200 industry leaders found that up to 21 percent planned to implement digital-based self-service options in their restaurants in the near future.

It’s also a way to cut down on paper waste such as receipts and disposable paper menus—going green is very modern.

Plus, digital signs offer a sleekness that other options, like beat-up old menus or a scribbled-on chalkboard or a little plastic tray for your customer’s credit card and bill, just can’t. Millennials, especially, expect dynamic, digitally-delivered content.

Digital signs make for happier customers.

In a QSR or fast-casual setting, speed of service is everything. If a customer feels like they’ve been kept waiting, their satisfaction is bound to drop.

And with customer customizing their orders more often, the average wait time at a QSR increased, perhaps unavoidably, from 203 seconds to 222 seconds between 2014 and 2015. Impatient customers do notice.

However, employing a digital sign to draw customer’s attention and provide entertainment, an estimated wait, or anything like that can decrease perceived wait times by up to 35 percent!

And there’s a clear financial benefit as well. For example, Wendy’s restaurants employing digital signs have seen a sales improvement of 12 to 13 percent over locations that don’t.

To get a better look at all the benefits digital signage can offer, we’re going to take a closer look at specific technologies available to you.

The Specifics

Digital menus

A digital menu board is often a large screen or grouping of screens located above the cashier or outside at the drive-through. It’s probably the most commonly-seen use of digital signage at restaurants, and with good reason.

Studies show that installing a digital menu board can boost overall sales by 3 to 5 percent, and much higher on specific promoted items. DMBs also drive foot traffic, particularly at locations like malls and airports where they can catch eyes of passers-by: 15 percent of restaurants report an increase in number of customers after installing a digital menu.

74 percent of customers say that an easy-to-read menu is a top priority. A bright, colorful, well-designed menu can be highly readable, and since it can cycle through multiple screens it can display its information at a larger font size.

And if customers are able to see the options available, especially on a digital sign, they’re more likely to actually purchase them. 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.

Not only that, but 30 percent of customers report that digital signage menus influence which product they purchase.

The ability to include more information has legal advantages as well. Recent laws require restaurants with more than 20 locations to display calorie information next to each item. Many restaurants also choose to list potential allergens such as gluten or nuts, and whether the items are vegan and/or vegetarian friendly.

Traditional menu boards just don’t have room to list all that information at readable size—but a digital menu does.

Another advantage: digital menus are super easy to update.

This allows you to switch seamlessly from a breakfast menu to a lunch menu, remove an item that has sold out for the day, or introduce a new promotion based on events happening in real-time. Rainy summer day? Promote 20 percent off lemonade to bring sunshine back. Promoting a specific item can easily cause a 38 percent uptick in its sales!

Ordering kiosks

Ordering kiosks often supplement a digital menu, though they can also take the form of a tablet brought to the table itself in a full-service setting. These intuitive touch-screen digital signs allow customers to order, quite possibly, without talking to an employee at all.

And rather than providing a cold and impersonal experience, they actually make the experience even more personalized, while freeing up personnel to focus on hospitality rather than simply taking orders.

Customers are actually seeking out self-service options. In 2010, more than half surveyed said they’d prefer a QSR that offered self-service over one that didn’t.

An ordering kiosk can allow customers to personalize their orders to a high degree. You’ve probably encountered McDonald’s “Chef Crafted Sandwiches” kiosks, currently deployed in 200 stores, which allow customers to choose everything from the protein to the bun to the number and quantity of condiments.

When customers give a highly customized order to a human worker, it’s easy to have miscommunications. People hate when restaurants get their orders wrong, and currently major fast food chains have about a 1-in-10 chance of doing exactly that.

However, receiving orders digitally helps the restaurant get it right. 17 percent reported having higher accuracy after installing digital signage.

Digital ordering is great for upselling as well. This works even at high-end, full-service restaurants, where presenting diners with an iPad to order from is a classy alternative to the traditional leather-bound menu. Customers can see tasty-looking images and browse information up-close.

Tablet-based ordering has been reported to provide sales increases of 10 to 15 percent, and increases in tipping by up to 15 percent as well.

At Jack-in-the-Box, the introduction of ordering kiosks has increased the sales and size of combo meals.

Electronic payment systems

The last example of digital signage in restaurants we’ll be looking at today is electronic payment technology.

This can take a couple different forms. First are the Apple Pay-type systems. Customers who have enabled Apple Pay or a similar system on their smart phone can pay their bill simply by holding their phone up to the screen. It’s as streamlined a system as you can imagine, and it’s designed to work with digital screens.

Another option: marry it with your digital ordering system. If your restaurant uses tablets for ordering, you could employ a product like a Presto tablet or a Square to allow them to pay on the spot. Customers aren’t fond of handing over their credit cards, fearing fraud, so let them handle it themselves!

Streamlining payment and providing peace of mind: those are the main advantages of using digital signage as part of the way your customers pay.


From bringing customers in to helping them pay at the end of the experience, digital signage for restaurants can help at every step of the way.

These technologies can both help your bottom line and improve customer experience.

And we’ve got real numbers to back that up.

Does this data reinforce what you knew about digital signage, or is some of it surprising?

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