With the rise of mobile ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup, quick-service restaurants are seeking efficiencies to meet their customers' needs. At the same time, operators are scrambling to redesign existing stores to accommodate this new dynamic while working with limited staff and navigating lingering safety concerns. Now more than ever, it's critical to create an efficient guest experience that your team can keep up with.
Digital signage is one of the most practical and cost effective ways to enhance both the guest and staff experience—and the need is growing as quick serves add additional drive-thru lanes, pickup windows, and curbside parking. Customers need to know how to navigate the property easily and safely, both inside and out.
“We are seeing more freestanding signage, such as pole-mounted LEDs and guest-facing window signage that tells customers where to pick up their mobile order and new hours of operation, and exterior signage that cues guests when orders are ready,” says Deana Gelino, senior key account manager, display division, at Samsung Electronics America.
Digital signage isn’t just practical—it’s an increasingly important time and money-saving tool that meets customers where they are. Guests expect quick, efficient, and safe service and are becoming more accustomed to contactless interactions and ordering via mobile devices.
When Austin-based Sprinkles Cupcakes—which is widely considered the world’s first cupcake bakery—needed to adapt its business model during COVID-19, the brand looked to digital signage to help solve some of the industry’s most common pandemic-related challenges.
“Prior to COVID, our cupcake ATM machines were the only self-service device we had,” says Daniel Legh-Page, vice president of technology and guest services at Sprinkles Bakery. “During COVID, we did pickup, self-service, and added in-store kiosks. When we did fully reopen, we transitioned to more online orders, replaced our old static signage with digital signage, and added more self-service kiosks. It brought a new, fresh look and a brand new guest experience that matched the flow of online ordering.”
It also helps Sprinkles—a brand known for its hand-crafted, high-quality treats like cupcakes, cookies, chocolates and more—maintain a consistent brand identity throughout all channels. With digital signage, colors come through in true, vivid detail, so Sprinkles’ red velvet cupcake looks the same everywhere from their exterior signage to their website and mobile app. Legh-Page said Sprinkles was able to maximize its investment in new photography during 2020 because now the photos can be easily loaded into the content management system and reused on several channels with just a few clicks. Digital signage also allows operators to quickly change prices and item availability (a lifesaver during supply chain shortages) and promote LTOs in real time.
Previously, Sprinkles advertised daily specials and 86ed items using magnetic lettering that had to be changed by hand. “Now, managers can update their digital signage menu with a few taps on an iPad,” Legh-Page says. “We can schedule promotions—such as holiday flavors and new bakery products—and put them up on the digital signage easily, so customers know when and for how long they’ll be available.”
Digital signage also improves the experience for restaurant staff. Displays in the kitchen and prep area help crew manage guest orders arriving from multiple order points, such as drive thru, mobile, dine in, and third-party delivery services. Many operators are also replacing the old back-of-house bulletin board system for schedules and safety notifications with sleek digital signage, which cleans up the space and streamlines corporate messaging.
“Crew experience is the game changer of digital,” Gelino says. “In our world where labor is tough, you have to keep the crew happy.”
No matter the size or scope of a quick-serve operation, digital signage can help operators level up on both customer and employee satisfaction. Part of Legh-Page’s plan when he joined Sprinkles as chief technology officer in 2019 was to upgrade the company’s tech and move more toward digital. The pandemic accelerated that shift, but the end goal is still the same: Make it easy and convenient for customers to do business via digital channels, while maintaining the service level and brand standards Sprinkles is known for.
New kiosks with a user-friendly interface paired with Samsung digital signage, a seamless content management system and customer support, made it possible for Sprinkles to retire their legacy systems and start fresh with a solution that can change and grow with the company’s needs. Eventually, Legh-Pager would like to see nearly all of the company’s sales come through digital channels, such as online ordering and self-service kiosks.
“We pride ourselves on customer service, so we worried that the customer experience and service level would be lost if we went completely digital,” he says. “But to the contrary, it’s allowed us to remodel our bakeries and create a new walk-in experience that our guests have really taken to.”
To learn more about how digital displays can help your brand, visit the Samsung website.
By Davina van Buren