Technology Feature in the Fish n Chips & Fast Food Magazine.

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Digital Menu Boards are displays that are designed to operate continually and show bright high resolution images. Because of the affordability of the technology they are being utilised more and more throughout the fast food sector. Static menus made up of text and graphics were the first to replace old menus that were previously made from card, blackboard, foamex or pin-boards. Backlit vinyl menus can be difficult to edit and often costly. Digital Menu Boards replace these to allow for quick and easy up-dating of the menu content. Prices or menu items can be changed in minutes, often by the business manager on their own computer.

The two types of Digital Menu Board are a Stand-alone or a Network controlled system.

Stand-alone system. This is simple to install and use whilst being affordable. Network or Internet connection is not required as the content is changed by a USB memory stick which is removed when the content is updated. The display contains the control system with a memory large enough to retain hundreds of menus. Static menus, slide-shows or animated video menus can all be played on these devices. Made from commercial screens, they are protected by a toughened glass panel so it can be easily cleaned. Cooling fans ensure stable and reliable performance. There are no external controls and the unit is fixed on the wall with a security device. A remote control allows for setting the opening hours. Additionally, if required, using the software provided it is simple to set up various menus to be automatically displayed at different times.

Network controlled system. This is ideal for multiple sites that require control from a central location. Flexible control allows for scheduling of content days or months in advance. Individual displays over numerous locations can all display menu content and much more. Mixed displays of menu text, animated graphics and video all combine to give a more powerful marketing tool. Eye catching motion increases the attention span of customers and allows for up-selling. Promotions, Specials, Meal Deals etc. all create increased sales.

Pita Pit is a Canadian fast food chain specialising in healthyappetising meals. The target audience are primarily students and young professionals. After spreading from Canada across the US they have started their overseas expansion into both Asia and Europe, with 430 locations to date.

Digital Media Systems are the selected partner to provide a nationwide network of Digital Menu Boards. The on screen content is made up of branded backgrounds with product pictures, information and pricing, taken directly from the EPOS System, being overlaid. When products or prices change the Menu Boards reflect this within a minute. The EPOS also has customer-facing 7” screen to further entice the customer at the point of sale. The squareVIEW system is managed by Digital Media Systems from their offices in Yorkshire as well as being accessible in Canada. The Stock Control system contained in the EPOS can remove zero-stocked items from the menus as well as alter sale prices if new purchase costs have changed, all done automatically. squareVIEW can handle all the expansion plans of Pita Pit, which is expected to open 50 new franchises in the UK alone within 5 years. Manchester opened its first store at the end of 2013, the second & third in Leeds and London, are only a few weeks away.

iVIEW is a mobile app that links to the EPOS. It allows customers to pre-order their meals for collection or delivery. The scalable, brandable app can handle loyalty points and much more.

So, menu boards have come a long way. The benefits of improving the customer experience and grabbing their attention results in increased profits for the business owner, who also enjoys the ease of use and the speed of being able to refresh what the menu boards show. A typical Return on Investment can be realised within 12-24 months of the system going live.

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