We are seeing a major shift in the foodservice industry, moving away from conventional menu boards to new, brighter, digital versions. Much has been written about the benefits of menu boards, such as the ease of changing items and price, the ability to grab customers’ attention through motion, and reduced perceived wait times. We foresee this trend gaining significant momentum, and are bold enough to declare that not only are digital menu boards here for good but also they will be the de facto way fast food and fast casual restaurants will communicate their offerings well into the next decade.
However, our firm’s experience with future innovations has pushed us towards new immersive technologies that make the whole experience more convenient, personalized and efficient. These immersive trends such as geofencing, pre-order tablets, mobile phone ordering and the growing use of augmented reality applications are being introduced as new ways of effectively engaging customers prior, during and after their visit to a restaurant. We have noted three major factors operators need to take into consideration when going beyond the current digital menu board paradigm, namely:
Factor One: Creating deeper personalized emotional connections
New advances in software mean you can find out more about who your customer is and tailor the offering to fit their demographic. Personalization is a huge plus when targeting millennials, and we see this trend continuing. Facial recognition technology is one of the newest technologies we predict will have a strong impact on delivering this key element.
Factor Two: Making the customer’s path-to-purchase immersive
The term “being connected” was one that you heard frequently when the Internet really began to explode, and as we move ahead to a digital world, it is ever more relevant. Customers, especially Millennials and upcoming Generation Z, experience digital reality in a physical way, and connecting those elements to the experience of delivering great food is no longer something you can add on: it’s essential. The best immersive experiences result in a win-win, when the customer gets better service and a more personal experience, and the operator gets a repeat customer with a larger check.
Factor Three: Ensuring a closed-loop ecosystem
Digital signage can play a huge part in engaging customers after they leave the restaurant by encouraging them to download apps, share to social media, and engage in loyalty programs.