Walking into a quick-service restaurant these days often means seeing a row of digital displays behind the counter, as LCD screens rapidly replace static back-lit posters.
With an estimated 50 to 70 percent of QSR sales occurring in the drive-thru, taking digital menu boards outdoors is the next logical evolution for the industry. A report by Futuresource Consulting in 2014 suggested that only 1 percent of the potential market for outdoor displays had so far been tapped.
As a reminder of why the drive-thru is important, much of Australia’s eastern seaboard recently copped an unseasonal lashing from the weather gods. As the rain pelted down, the number of drive-thru QSR customers surged as they avoided the drenching that comes from the 100-meter parking lot dash.
Making it easy
The drive-thru customer experience is all about speed and convenience. Having the right menu and message at the right time is important. In the past, business owners had two choices: Display all menu items — breakfast, lunch and dinner — on the one menu board all day long, or use two-sided menu boards that could be flipped during the day. Talk about overwhelming the customer.
The National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Industry Forecast showed 41 percent of the critical 18- to 34-year-old target demographic says technology is an important factor when they choose a restaurant, and the next age bracket — 35 to 44 years — wasn’t far behind at 39 percent. The NRA’s research found that technology improves speed and convenience for consumers. Are drive-thrus and technology the perfect combo meal then?
Let’s go through a handful of the top reasons outdoor digital displays go hand in hand with drive-thrus.
Is digital up to the challenge?
But how will outdoor digital displays withstand the vagaries of unpredictable weather, I hear you ask? Rain, snow, heat and cold have for a long time made leaving digital screens out in the elements (i.e.., a drive-thru lane) a costly, complicated and unpredictable proposition. However, the barriers that limited how digital screens could be used outdoors and in direct sunlight have been tackled, making it possible to place high-impact, dynamic messaging in front of customers in nearly any situation.
Outdoor digital displays are now been designed to work flawlessly, for years, despite extreme high and low temperatures, heat from full days of direct sunlight, rain, frost, dirt, dust and fumes, to unpredictable things like power spikes and vandalism. Most notable is the Samsung OH series, which has all the engineering and design needed for ultra-bright, high-reliability, high-durability displays.
The digital edge
QSRs that embrace the opportunity to engage their customers through digital will not only outperform their competitors but will also differentiate themselves from other operators who have not changed the way they do drive-thru business for decades. By combining the influential capabilities of digital menu technology with outdoor digital displays, QSRs can drive sales increases, improve the speed of service and create happier, and hence, more loyal customers.
Is now the right time for you to install outdoor digital displays?
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