Paper menus have been the traditional mainstay of the foodservice industry, but with all the advances in technology, digital menus are growing in popularity. Each has its own set of pros and cons; advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed by each foodservice business owner.
Are Digital Menus Replacing Paper Ones?
While digital menus are reducing the need for paper, paper menus aren’t going away entirely. Which is best for you will depend on the industry you’re in. Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) are especially good candidates for digital menus because they can display detailed photos of plates, appetizers, and desserts. Bright displays give restaurants options to change colors, fonts, and designs around menu items.
Fast food restaurants tend to run promotions that change constantly. Software can be programmed to initiate and end promotional campaigns on a set schedule. Digital menus allow you to quickly add and remove menu content above the cash register without ever needing to climb a ladder.
Paper menus are easy to print off in large quantities at a low cost. Some restaurants maintain their menus from a laptop or tablet and print what they need there. When paper menus get soiled or wet, they can be quickly replaced. The concern now with paper menus, however, are new sanitation requirements due to COVID-19.
Customers are no longer able to share paper menus that have been previously handled by other customers. In fact, restaurants and bars are having QR code menus made for smartphones. Customers scan the code at the table with their phones and the menu instantly appears on their screens. Digital menus open a host of new possibilities for restaurants to display menu items in an appealing way to incoming guests.
What Can Digital Menus Accomplish That Paper Menus Can’t?
- Display HD photographs and video of food, products, and services
- Advertise rotating promos
- Provide an easy-to-read display for those who might be visually impaired
- Are 100% sanitation safe
- Allow business owners to save money on paper
- Update content quickly and at a lower cost than paper menus
What Are the Disadvantages of Digital Menus?
- Customers need a line-of-sight to digital menus
- Customers can’t take the digital menu from the counter with them to their table/seat
- Digital displays require upfront costs for software, licensing, equipment, and data
- Service agreements may be required
- Possible increase in energy costs
- Customers won’t have easy access to menu options if equipment fails
Marketing Advantages of Digital Menus
Digital menus can help retail, salon, bar, and restaurant owners create a more interactive experience with their guests. Software programming for digital displays can present much more information than a standard paper menu of services, such as social media pages and other data you want customers to know about your store. You can even combine digital marketing promos with in-store display content. Integrated design templates make it easy for you to get started!
Customer Loyalty Programs With Digital Menus
Cloud-based POS system providers, such as talech, include software for customer loyalty programs. This software allows you to:
- Gather customer information at the tableside or POS counter
- Share targeted messages on the customer-facing display (CFD) of your digital screen, such as customer appreciation expressions
- Place additional smaller digital menus in key receiving areas of your store
- Create digital marketing campaigns based on a number of customer profiles
How to Update Time-Tested Paper Menus
Not all your customers have smartphones and email access. Maybe some don’t care very much for Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. These customers need to be taken into account when making decisions that affect your entire customer base. However, if you’re adamant about implementing digital menus, there are steps you can take to cater to the non-digital customers:
- Add graphic elements on your paper menus that look similar to the digital menus
- Produce loyalty cards that customers can bring with them when they visit
- Make disposable versions of your menu to keep customers safe (or even ones that can be recycled or taken home!)
There are a number of ways to bridge the gap between paper and digital menus that stays consistent with your brand—you just need to get creative!
Digital Menus—What’s Next?
If you think you’re ready to implement digital menus, but aren’t sure where to start, consider consulting a company with robust knowledge in POS technology, like talech. Since digital menus work best when combined with cloud-based POS solutions, talech will help ensure the technology integration into your business operations is seamless.
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