A sumptuous digital menu can mean the difference between good sales and excellent sales. Gorgeous pictures entice diners to try something new — or add an additional menu item to their order. But figuring out how to create a sales-driving menu board can seem daunting.
In this guide, we cover essential tips you need to know before you can put up your mouth-watering digital menu ‒ one that blends with your top-notch brand.
What is a digital menu?
Walk into any restaurant these days and you’ll likely gaze on a digital menu board. Digital menus are catching the foodservice industry by storm for a simple reason: they, like other forms of in-venue digital signage, successfully drive revenue.
Simply put, a digital menu is any display or screen that shows off your restaurant’s food items together with daily specials and promotions. You could be presented with a digital menu through an iPad in a fast-casual or family-owned restaurant. You might also see this if you’ve ordered at a digital menu station in a quick-service restaurant such as McDonald’s.
But you’re also likely to see a non-interactive screen that displays menu options in an enticing, HD fashion. That said, the type of digital menu board that suits your restaurant depends on many different factors. These include, but are not limited to, budget, size, customer appeal and other priorities that will boost your brand.
Traditional vs. digital menu displays
Many passersby enter a bar or restaurant because of persuasive signage. So to maintain a competitive edge, you need outstanding visual appeal.
While some people argue whether or not digital menus are more influential than their non-digitized counterparts, it’s crucial to figure out which one will resonate with your brand. However, choosing between the two can be a challenge.
Traditional, static menu boards still play an essential role in most restaurants. They inform customers about various menu items and available offers while doubling as decor if well designed. Think of a vintage bar or restaurant that wants to maintain its authentic appearance ‒ traditional menu boards can be a great option.
The same is true if you want to maintain an authentic, retro outlook for your 1950s-inspired establishment. A traditional menu board can be a thrill with its uniqueness, longevity and meager operational costs. What’s more, a traditional menu board is relatively easy to design and install.
Digital menu boards are a collection of tv screens that rely on a central computer. Most restaurants prefer digital menu boards for their sleek appearance that blends with the decor.
The benefits of a digital menu
While static and digital menus both play a key informative role, digital menus are quickly becoming a game-changer when it comes to brand recognition strategy and customer engagement.
At a glance, digital menus:
- Save on overall printing and labor costs
- Offer greater appeal and higher customer engagement
- Allow simple, streamlined updates
- Increase flexibility
- Provide a variety since menus can be changed automatically
Enhanced customer experience
The best way to thrive in a highly competitive market and establish a strong brand is through customer trust and loyalty. Equally, the best form of advertising is word of mouth from a satisfied customer. In short, thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.
Customers will be more inclined to visit if you catch their attention and offer them quality and speed, which you can achieve via digital signage technology. With digital menus, you can present information on bright screens with clear text for easy readability. These can also entertain customers as they wait for service, distracting them from inevitable wait times.
Better foot traffic
What’s more, by using interactive screens, you’re certain to boost efficiency. If you have a touch screen menu, your customers can easily make selections without waiter intervention. This speeds up the lunchtime rush or smooths over a busy dinner service. Not only will tables turn faster, but this flexibility increases check size, helping your restaurant maximize revenue and table turnover more easily.
Value for money
With a digital menu, you can smile knowing you won’t have recurring materials costs for new menus. You can also sync a digital menu with a point of sale (POS) system. This means your employees are able to accurately track inventory in real-time, enabling quick decision making.
Looking at economies of scale, you’re bound to save hefty sums of money in the long term by leveraging digital menus.
By eliminating static printing costs, maximizing seasonal opportunities and increasing sales margins through a digital experience, you can positively influence your return on investments (ROI).
You can also achieve higher sales through a corporate nudge, which you can implement via digital menus. A digital menu board can indirectly suggest upsells, attracting your customers to purchase more without feeling pressure from an employee. In effect, digital menus improve overall sales.
Even after restaurant hours, an outdoor screen can advertise your products to future customers as they pass by. All you need is digital signage software to tailor messages for after-hours. Think about promoting a breakfast special to encourage consumers to come back in the morning.
As your restaurant grows, digital menus allow you to maintain consistency in appearance and operational practices in many locations. Imagine being able to schedule and update your menus seamlessly!
It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. A digital menu allows you to change menu items and prices remotely, all at once, whenever you need to. All you need is an internet connection and suitable digital signage software.
Besides, centralized control allows you to eliminate errors and inefficiencies while enhancing a dynamic branding image and marketing strategy.
What you will need to get started
Here’s what to consider before adding a digital menu to your business:
You need a screen (LCD or LED type), a compatible digital signage player, mounting gear and connection cords. If you have a POS system, you could integrate it into the menu displays.
Digital signage software
Converting a regular TV into a digital menu board requires software. You could opt for digital signage software provided by your signage company or leverage cloud-based platforms such as SignPresenter and ScreenCloud.
Digital menu templates
Whether you are an experienced designer or have a freelancer working for you, chances are you need digital menu templates for customizing display content on your screens.
What is a digital menu template?
A digital menu template is a pre-designed model that you can edit for your various menu board preferences and updates. Your digital menu boards should be professionally designed to have a high impact — and be easily customizable.
If well selected, you can adjust text, images and other items before uploading remotely to your screen. A good template makes use of:
What to look for when choosing a digital menu template
The following are tried-and-true design principles you should keep in mind when designing a compelling digital menu template:
- Keep everything simple and crisp
- Use high contrast colors
- Add motion and video appropriately
- Choose highly readable fonts
- Prioritize a balanced menu layout
- Let the food take center stage with honest pictures and realistic menu items
- Create value propositions and include calls to action
The Best Digital Menu Templates
Paid, ready-made templates
Different companies sell customizable templates for various digital menu boards. You may not want to pay for templates, but paid materials are more likely to be professional and meet industry benchmarks. Let creative experts do all the heavy-lifting for you.
DIY software templates
If you can land user-friendly menu board apps or web-based software and trust your design skills, you’re good to go. Most of these have simple drag-and-drop interfaces that can take your skill to a whole new level and create professional templates fast. These include:
It’s easy to design a great menu board when you keep basic design principles in mind.
Microsoft PowerPoint templates
You can easily customize your digital menu from existing PowerPoint templates. It will save you considerable time and money, and there are plenty of video tutorials online to learn how to do it.
Just be sure to select a 16:9 aspect ratio that most modern TVs display. Here are the steps:
- Navigate to “Design”
- Select “Slide Size”
- Go to “Page Setup”
- Choose “the screen Show (16:9)” option
You can download countless customizable templates for free from places like Canva, Apple Keynote and even Google Slides, etc. The Keynote app comes preinstalled on Apple devices so you can create gorgeous digital menus.
Not only will digital menus give your business a classic outlook with extra polish, but they also win customer hearts to your business and potentially drive up sales. As opposed to static directories, menus, maps, and in-store advertising, digital menus are relatively affordable in the long run.
There are plenty of solutions for your business, most of which you can integrate with your current POS system. And like our happy clients, you too can take your brand to greater heights. Feel free to explore our proven solutions and get started.