The Evolution of Digital Menu Boards in Quick-Service Restaurants

As technology continues to advance, digital menu boards are becoming the norm in quick-service restaurants (QSRs), given their efficiency, modern design and seamless updating capabilities. Recent trends have seen the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) powered digital menus in many QSRs. The move by McDonalds in 2019 to acquire Dynamic Yield marked a significant milestone in this trend. Factors such as weather, time, and popular items have been instrumental in revolutionizing customer interaction and boosting sales.

Post-COVID has seen an increased emphasis on maintaining off-premise dining experiences, prompting fast-food titans like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell to modernize their drive-thru experiences by incorporating larger, AI-integrated digital menu boards. Significantly, KFC’s impending triple-lane digital menu boards are emblematic of this trend.

Sustainability promotion is another trend stirring the QSR industry. A noteworthy venture is the partnership between White Castle, Coca-Cola, and E Ink, which aims to promote green technology using low-power, solar color-changing e-paper in digital menus.

Cloud-based digital menu boards are now being deployed to bolster digital advertising strategies, reduce the lag time for marketing launches and ensure uniformity across all outlets. A parallel trend is the use of AI to deliver a more personalized customer experience, a strategy employed by Presto and recently demonstrated by Sonic Drive-In.

Lastly, the rise of contactless payments has seen the growing adoption of cashierless systems that utilize digital menu boards such as those offered by Valyant AI. This approach offers a smooth self-service customer experience. Ultimately, digital menu boards are on a fast evolution track, steering the industry towards AI-powered personalization, broader digital board use, inclusion of greener technology, leveraging cloud-based systems, and offering comprehensive self-service experiences.

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