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Indoor Digital Menu Boards: How They Work

In recent years, all fast-food restaurants have switched from printed signs to digital menu boards inside their restaurants. More recently still, the appearance of interactive kiosks has allowed visitors to place an order and track its delivery via a number assigned by the system to each order.

What is the main advantage of the digital menu boards compared with a printed menu? Undoubtedly, its versatility. Use dayparting to offer the right products for different consumption occasions, which vary depending on the time of day. Because it can show variable, dynamic content, it is now possible to screen photos of peripheral products, such as impulse items or upsells.

What are the specific features of an indoor digital menu screen board?

Digital Menu – Screen visibility

The screens used are standard indoor displays, designed for continuous use 24/7, every day of the year. They are also certified by the screen manufacturers to function in environments with exposure to heat and grease, commonly found in food-related settings.

These screens should have a brightness level of at least 500 nits and accurately reproduce colors for the menu items displayed. When multiple screens are placed side by side, they must have consistent color settings to ensure uniformity. Since customers are closer to the screens indoors, they are usually limited to a size of around 55 inches.

Ideally, the screens should have minimal bezels to create a seamless appearance, with content synchronized across all screens. This allows them to function as a single communication device, typically displayed in landscape mode. Customers spend more time indoors, giving them ample opportunity to explore the displayed content before placing their orders.

Content editing using a smartphone – Versatility

Navori digital signage software offers content control, for example taking a photo of the menu of the day and posting it immediately, activating or deactivating the screen of certain products, or publishing an express message from your mobile device. If one screen fails, its content can be easily transferred to another screen, which will screen the additional content in rotation. However, since the digital menu board is seen by several customers at the same time, much of the interactivity used for outdoor menu boards does not apply indoors.

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Two types of content

Content is generally split into two parts:

Permanent menu items or meal deals and combos are often shown as fixed items, i.e. not on rotation.

Seasonal or promotional menus scroll and are generally animated. If the restaurant has order terminals, the order number and its status through to delivery are shown and updated in real-time.

Content synchronization across several screens

Usually, each screen displays both static and dynamic content through various rotations. To prevent confusion among customers, it’s crucial for all products to rotate simultaneously on all screens. That’s why synchronization is necessary for restaurant indoor digital menu boards. Screens that lack synchronization can be as confusing as multiple people talking to you simultaneously. Navori software can automatically synchronize all types of screens.

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Dayparting

The content displayed on indoor menu boards is customized based on the time and day of the week. This helps tailor the product offerings for different times of the day. Additionally, when using a digital menu board with Navori software, promotions can be managed automatically. For example, a product can be activated on the day it is being promoted and then deactivated when the promotion ends.

Dynamic content

The digital menu board does not screen a static image. Instead, it uses dynamic content. The starting point is a table listing all the products, their nutritional values, their prices, and one or more photos.

Restaurant chains produce and approve photos of their menu items while independent restaurants will take photos of their dishes with a smartphone, using Navori Mobile to insert them into the list of available items.

If the restaurant uses inventory management software, the list of products will be picked up automatically by the Navori software, generally with information on stock levels. Thanks to the filters available in Navori Designer, a menu item that is out of stock will be automatically deactivated until the stock is replenished

Data Feed Manager

The final menu design is done using a content editor, such as Navori Template Designer. Products or groups of products are incorporated into the graphic design and then updated in real-time when it is displayed. With Navori QL, creating content for an indoor digital menu board is quick and easy. Dynamically integrating previously created content into Navori Designer will take less than an hour.

Using computer vision to improve staff performances and customer experience

Adding cameras with computer vision software, such as Aquaji, makes it possible to count every individual, determine the demographics of visitors, such as age and gender, measure how long they will wait before being served, and adjust the content played while they are waiting. These metrics can help the restaurant assign the optimal level of human resources based on a waiting time defined in advance as the restaurant’s target, to maintain the customer’s quality of experience.

If a customer has been waiting too long or for longer than a period that has been predefined in the system, an alert can be sent to the manager.

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The advantage of the system on a chip is its simplicity. This is a screen with an integrated media player. Each screen is independent, to provide maximum flexibility in the case of continuous use. Even if one screen fails, the others will take over.

Which is the better hardware option: an external standalone player or a system on a chip?

The second advantage of all-in-one screens is the price, which will be at least 40% cheaper than an external media player. This is why most restaurants use an SoC.

The disadvantage of an all-in-one is its power output, which is limited to about 50% of that of external media players. Not all graphic creations or animations will necessarily be possible with an SoC, because of a lack of power. Combining several videos on a single screen, for example, is impossible.

Another inconvenience, in terms of maintenance, is that an SoC is also more complicated to manage if there is a breakdown. Dismantling screens is not as simple as replacing a digital signage player device, which is often hosted remotely and can be replaced during working hours.