Doug Bannister's blog

Leverage Digital Menu Boards to be FDA Compliant

In any food service environment, increasing sales is of the utmost importance for business owners. However, with recent FDA changes food service organizations must also be concerned about government compliance. With the use of digital menu boards comes the ability to segment on-screen content to allow for space to list menu items and pricing, as well as in-house promotions and external advertising, and nutritional information.  In the past, static signage was used to feature menu items and promotional specials, but keeping this information up to date was an issue. With pricing and in-store specials changing regularly, it was nearly impossible to constantly ensure static displays were relevant. With the introduction of digital signage menu boards comes the ability to integrate real-time data, and use it to drive the content on the screen. By tying into companies existing data systems, such as a POS system, digital signage can reflect these changes instantaneously. The same functionality comes into play when dealing with quick service restaurants that have varying menus depending on the time of day. Digital menu boards can dynamically alter to showcase either a breakfast, lunch or dinner menu depending on the time of day. Gone are the days when staff would need to manually replace traditional signage; now they can focus on their key job function: servicing customers.            update nutrional info in real-time Good Looking and Intelligent Aesthetic appeal and creating compelling brand messaging are always important factors when creating customer facing content. In the case of menu boards, there's only a short window to catch the viewer's attention and entice them to make a purchase. Digital menu boards allow food service providers to customize their on-screen content in order to create rich, compelling graphics  yet still provide nutritional guidelines without having to sacrifice visual appeal. It is often difficult for food service providers to maintain consistent brand imagery across multiple store locations, such as in the case of a franchise. It is critical for these retailers to adhere to companywide brand standards while still retaining the flexibility to make changes to local content such as business hours and in-store specials and ingredient changes. By utilizing digital signage and its user permissioning capabilities, individual franchisees can have the ability to make changes to certain content on the screens while corporate maintains control of key brand elements. With this functionality, businesses can maintain a consistent brand message while still allowing franchise locations to provide the local information relevant to a customer's needs.  Get Engaged Digital menu boards provide the ability to create a more interactive experience for viewers. Food services providers are now able to use their displays as a way to engage with their customers through the use of dynamic, real-time content. Unlike with static displays, digital signage will never look tired or old. While posters may fade or yellow, digital content is always vibrant and fresh. Having an interactive self-serve kiosk is another way to allow consumers to make their selections based on nutritional information that is important to them, for a personalized experience. Video content is a much more appealing way to showcase signature items and specials. With digital signage you can easily cycle through video content to ensure that customers in line are seeing as much advertising content as possible, while simultaneously reducing their perceived wait time. The promotions being showcased are always timely and relevant because the data driving the content is being updated in real-time, taking the burden off staff who no longer need to manually update it themselves. It's All About Data A key differentiator between the use of traditional static signage and digital signage is the ability to incorporate data. By using data to drive content you can ensure that your message is delivered to the right people at the right time, which helps drive the customer to the desired outcome: making a purchase. Time is money in the food service industry, and creating clear and impactful content is a key success factor in driving up sales. At the same time, businesses are working with tight budgets , tight timelines, and now even tighter regulations, so increasing productivity and improving efficiency represents another top priority. Digital menu boards satisfy all of these criteria by enabling companies to eliminate nearly all of the redundancies and manual effort required to maintain static displays. Digital signage is changing the way businesses manage content and communicate with customers, allowing them to make informed choices for themselves and their families.

The Self-Service Movement of Interactive Kiosks

Consumers today are more self-directed than ever. Few are bothered by self-checkout lanes in supermarkets or fast food restaurants, and the trial and adoption of these self-serve kiosks is growing rapidly. The growth in popularity and usage is partly due to companies getting better at implementing self-service technologies but is also due to the average consumer being more technologically savvy. Kiosks with Interactive Displays Prompt In-Store Purchases Self-service kiosks are becoming increasingly common in retail stores and fast food chains. They provide shoppers with the opportunity to direct their own experience, which makes it more enjoyable and efficient. These self-service kiosks are powered by interactive touch screens and are often combined with additional digital signs which provides businesses with an opportunity to cross-sell and upsell their products and services. A recent survey by InReality on the Reality of Retail found that 69% of customers would be more likely to make in-store purchases if they had access to kiosks or interactive displays. As well, the survey found 78% would be more likely to visit a store that offered self-service for finding products or brands and a self-service solution for product or price comparison would increase the likelihood of 75% of customers making a purchase. The online shopping experience has changed the in-store experience for customers, and to remain competitive, bricks-and-mortar retailers are having to become smarter, more data-driven, and more technology-forward. Self-service kiosks can be an important aspect of technological sophistication. Self-Service Ticketing Can Be a New Profit Center Self-service kiosks for ticketing are proving to be valuable profit generators for many businesses. Not only can most of the headaches of paper-based ticketing systems be avoided with these self-service solutions, they generate profits due to the fact they reduce the amount of staff required and often can process business faster. For example, a sports or entertainment venue, or a transportation hub can use self-service kiosks to quickly and easily dispense tickets and process payments, as well as promote complimentary products, services or events. Integration with sales and inventory systems and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies also provides numerous opportunities for making self-serve kiosks even more valuable to both businesses and customers. Putting the Customer in Charge When a customer interacts with a well-implemented self-service kiosk, they feel as if they have more control over their shopping experience. Advertising delivered through interactive digital signage that is part of the self-service kiosk can find a receptive audience as long as kiosk users have that feeling of contentment with the technology and control of the event. Self-service options that are consistent from location to location offer customers a sense of familiarity that can reduce the anxiety of shopping in a new setting and set the stage for successfully presenting offers and discounts.    

Internet of Things (IOT) & Food Services

Some of you might not remember this but when I was a kid and you walked into a fast food chain the menu boards were simple basic plastic signs that you either never changed or had to get up on a ladder to change. Similarly, grocery stores were full of printed posters and paper shelf labels. There were no digital signs, self-service kiosks or any of the technology we see today. Fast forward to  now where it is common to see digital menu boards and digital signs in most fast food restaurants and grocery retailers. This change has been driven both by advances in technology, such as IOT but also by business needs and customer demands. Technology Changes The last couple of decades have seen numerous advances in technology with screens, memory and computing power, and the Internet of Things (IOT). It is the sensors and devices that make up the Internet of Things that  hold the most promise in food service organizations. These IoT devices are enabling a whole new level of connectivity, personalization and customer experience, and the potential applications are unlimited. Sensors on appliances such as fridges or stoves can monitor status of appliance and send updates to digital screens or mobile phones. This not only extends the life of appliance by keeping it from overheating or breaking down, but more importantly ensures food safety and quality. Business Advantages Leverage existing systems – Forward thinking food service organizations are tying their digital menu boards into their backend systems such as inventory. This allows them to not only remove items when they are out of stock but promote items when inventory is high. Similarly, in grocery stores digital shelf tags are becoming popular and these can easily be updated in real-time as inventory changes. Meet regulatory requirements – The need to show nutritional and dietary information about menu items is quickly moving from being a nice to have to mandatory. Information from calories to nutritional content can easily be integrated into digital menus and tied into backend systems or websites so it updates in real-time. Improve customer experience – By using IoT devices such as sensors and digital screens the experience in food service organizations can be dramatically improved. Whether it is offering self-serve ordering kiosks, alternative payment methods such as the Apple Pay, or pushing coupons and other promotional notifications to an individual’s mobile the possibilities are endless. There is no question the Internet of Things (IoT) holds great promise for food service organizations and grocery retailers. A lot of organizations are already leveraging these technologies to some extent. What will separate the leaders from the rest of the pack is a cohesive strategy for customer interaction and experience from pre through to post purchase and a plan for where and how technologies such as IoT can be integrated.

IOT and Healthcare

The Internet of Things (IoT) and integration of devices into all facets of daily life holds lots of promise, but perhaps the area where it holds the most promise is healthcare. It is estimated that "646 million IoT devices will be used for healthcare by 2020" (Internet of Things 2015 Report, BI Intelligence). Combined with visual communications and devices like sensors IoT has the potential to elevate healthcare to an entirely new level. HEALTHCARE IN 2020 Advances in technology have given individuals the tools to be an active participate in their own health and wellness. The recent popularity of consumer health monitoring devices such as FitBit or the Health apps on Smart Phones is giving individuals a wealth of data that didn’t exist previously. Other devices such as insulin pumps and pacemakers are giving patients the freedom to be at home or out and about but sharing relevant information with their healthcare provider about their medical status. These new devices are both delivering valuable data and lessening the need for doctor and patient interaction which enables more patients to be treated. IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES What does the hospital of the future look like? Here are a couple of scenarios that if they aren’t happening already aren’t too far in the future. 1. Elevating operating and treatment room efficiency By using sensors that monitor whether a room is occupied and pushing that information to screens and devices like tablets or mobile phones schedules can be updated in real-time and staff easily notified. Optimizing the use of space benefits not only the hospital and its staff but also patients by reducing waits and increasing the number of people who can be treated. 2. Personalized experience What if everyone knew your name and what you needed? Devices and sensors like RFID are making this possible. Imagine walking into a hospital and the wayfinding is customized to what you have scheduled for the day and shows you how to get where you need to go. Perhaps screens in waiting areas keep you up to date on your specific wait. Or maybe your hospital room is personalized for you and information on tests and appointments is easily accessible on your TV screen. The options for IoT in healthcare are endless. With these options comes some potential concerns like information security, but that is a discussion for a different day!

The new face of retail is digital

These days to get people out of their houses and shopping in the store retailers need to rethink how they attract and retain customers. From the exterior of the store through to the checkout retailers need to create an immersive and personalized shopping experience. The explosion of the Internet of Things and new digital devices such as sensors that can communicate with each other has enabled retailers to create a new personalized shopping experience. Today posters and shelf tags have been replaced with dynamic digital signs that offer real-time information on products and availability, as well as interactive information or visually enticing photos and video. Screens at checkouts leverage loyalty program information to offer personalized information on complimentary products or services relevant to the individual at the register. Do you remember pouring over a paper catalogue looking at toys when you were a kid? These days paper catalogues have now taken the form of self-serve kiosks that allow customers to view a retailers full offering and place orders without having to go up to the checkout. How many times have you asked a clerk to check the stockroom for a size you need? Now in many retail stores clerks are armed with tablets that provide real-time information on inventory levels and enable them to provide you with additional product information or reviews. Retailers that want to leap frog the competition have realized creating an immersive digital experience in their stores is key. Critical to this is having a software platform that can take information from a variety of sources and drive an immersive and interactive visual experience across all of these devices.  Read The Connected Store whitepaper for more information!

4 Best Practices for Effective Digital Signage Content

Every organization around the world had different visual content needs that are driven by their business practices, focus and audiences. These content needs often change and evolve over time, so it is important to follow the following best practices when creating effective digital signage content.  1. Ensure consistent branding Your digital signage should reflect your organization as much as your website, logo, markting collateral, events and office decor. Most companies have a style guide which dictates what fonts to use where, acceptable ways to use your logo, and other creative directives.  This is a good tool to ensure the look and feel of your screens are not only consistent with each other, but also with company guidelines. In organizations with multiple offices or geographic locations or in franchise situations, managing a consistent brand image is extremly important. Building digital signage using standardized brand/company guidelines makes the job of creating content for an organization various screens and devices dramatically easier. Example of good digital signage content 2. Promote legibility On digital signs the viewer needs to be able to absorb the information with a quick glance or it will not be effective. This means the font sizes, background and foreground colours, icons, charts, and other content items should be visually clear in the environment in which the screens exist. If people are viewing the content from a distance it will need to be kept simple, large and with good contrast. It is generally advisable to avoid putting too much information on the screen - it makes more sense to break up the information onto multiple screens and have them rotate through in a sequence. 3. Deliver key focus points "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci. Although there can be a tempation to present lots of different types of information on a single screen, this can distract people from absorbing what is most important. When planning your screens identify the one or two most important pieces of information you need to get across and focus on those in your layout and design.  Certain elements like time, date, and logos won't be distracting as they are easily recognizable and will only be absorbed if the need is there. 4. Select appropriate icons and images As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Wherever possible, represent information as images, icons, charts and guages rather than text alone. There are many different types and styles of charts. Choosing the right chart type can make a big difference in the legibility and comprehension of the underlying data. Generally speaking, Bar charts are better than pie charts Use a horizontal bar chart for ranking different scenarios Use a vertical bar chart for time comparisons Line charts are used for connecting continuous data on an interval scale Bullet charts are great for showing value vs. targets such as KPIs


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