The Future of QSRs: Will Electronic Menus Replace Human Employees?

The Future of QSRs: Will Electronic Menus Replace Human Employees?

The Future of QSRs: Will Electronic Menus Replace Human Employees?

  • On May 31, 2023
  • 0 Comments

As a restaurant owner, staying on top of emerging trends shaping the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry is crucial. Of all the new tech developments, the electronic menu board is one of the most notable trends in recent years. The traditional static menu board is phasing out and being replaced by electronic menus that showcase mouthwatering menu items.

This technology offers numerous advantages over traditional menus. But some industry workers are concerned that traditional menus will not be the only things being replaced by new technology. Electronic menus have a host of benefits; there’s no denying it. But does this game-changer cast doubt on job security for human workers?

The question that lurks in many minds is whether this transformative technology will one day replace human employees. Our goal for this blog post is to have an open dialogue on the impact of digital menu boards on fast food workers and how electronic menu boards are changing the QSR industry as a whole. The short answer is no, we don’t believe human employees will ever be pushed out of the QSR industry by electronic menus. Let’s get into the discussion of what exactly electronic menu boards do and how they present opportunities to improve conditions for fast food workers and customers.

The rise of electronic menus in QSRs

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It wasn’t too long ago that sorting through complex HDMI cables was the norm when linking display screens. Today, we see sleek cloud-based devices working hand-in-hand with QR code-enabled ordering systems, a true testament to technological advancements. Here’s a look at how this rapid rise of electronic menus came to be.

Electronic menus burst onto the QSR scene around the mid-2000s. Early pioneers were looking to adapt their point of sale (POS) operations and found this solution. Initially, these were nothing more than static images on low-resolution TVs, but soon popular chains began to explore the concept of dynamic menus. Quickly, high-resolution displays made their way onto the market.

Continued advances in cloud-based computers brought forth real-time pricing updates from remote devices. Electronic menus offer advantages to businesses, most notably in the form of more efficient workflows.

For instance, digital signs allow employees to interact more with customers and focus on customer service, freeing up time to build relationships with patrons and create a personalized experience for each one. This shift can increase loyalty and brand recognition, which helps drive repeat business.

Here are some other positive impacts that the implementation of digital menus has had on QSRs:

Faster and more accurate order processing

Fast food restaurants often get a bad rap for mistakes made while taking orders. Due to the speed at which fast food workers are expected to perform tasks, they can easily confuse orders and make mistakes, leading to slower service times and angry customers. Expectations for human QSR workers are high, to say the least.

Due to the inevitable margin of error with human employees, QSRs are now turning to digital technology to ensure accuracy and timeliness. With digital displays supporting smooth communication between both customers and staff, those mishaps are decreasing. The transition also means a decrease in manual input errors.

The drive-through might be the most pertinent example of how signage improves operations. Quick-service restaurants often have long lines at peak meal times. With clear digital signage, drive-throughs are becoming more efficient and less stressful experiences. Menus can be updated quickly, so customers don’t need to repeat their orders multiple times in the event of a menu change. They also often have fewer questions or miscommunication with the order-taker.

Flexibility in updating and changing menu items and prices

Imagine having the freedom to alter menu designs, add striking visuals, or swap prices at a whim. That’s the power electronic menu boards provide. Gone are the days of ordering and waiting for printed menus to arrive before implementing shifts. The new era is all about digital displays. It enables businesses to be more responsive than ever regarding market fluctuations or customer preferences.

Whether it’s a seasonal item or a limited-time offer, there’s no longer a need to choose between expediency and accuracy since companies can now update restaurant menu items and prices on the fly. It’s easy to maintain up-to-date information without sacrificing speed or quality of service.

This should also reduce customer disappointment. They are no longer surprised by unexpectedly high prices or out-of-stock items. Customers can take their time to browse through all the available options before making a decision.

Cost savings on printing and distribution of traditional menus

There are undoubtedly upfront costs associated with installing digital signage. However, electronic menus quickly pay off over time due to reduced spending on print materials. This shift frees up resources that can be redirected toward other avenues contributing directly to the bottom line.

Think about it: With digital signage, businesses no longer need to stock paper menus or regularly print new ones each time the menu changes. This eliminates unnecessary costs associated with printing, shipment, and distributing paper menus.

Better upselling opportunities through dynamic promotions and suggestive selling

You only have mere moments to capture the attention of customers and make a sale. Electronic menus give restaurants the opportunity to dynamically promote items. They can do so by launching an eye-catching special offer. When customers can actually see what two items look like side by side, they’re more likely to purchase the add-on. Whether that be a drink, fries, or a dessert. 

Additionally, customers often respond better to an upgrade option on a kiosk or digital menu better than a human employee trying to upsell them. Sales pitches in the middle of an order can feel uncomfortable for both employees and customers, so allowing digital signage content to do the heavy lifting here is a win-win scenario.

Improved visibility and readability of menu items for customers

A well-organized digital display helps customers navigate both simple and complex menus. You could have a handful of items on your menu or dozens. Either way, digital menus have appropriate visuals and powerful graphics to maintain customer attention.

This reduces confusion or frustration resulting from illegible text or obscured images. These are often found on traditional static displays plastered behind order counters. Employees, in turn, benefit from the fewer discrepancies or misunderstandings that can come up when trying to explain menu offerings to their clientele.

Enhanced customer experience through customization and convenience

Digital dining embraces individuality. You can promote recommendations based on popular orders or allergen alerts based on unique dietary requirements. Customers can make informed decisions while they wait in line, thanks to easy-to-view information.

QSRs can even tailor menus with promotions and specials that appeal to customer segments. For instance, they could showcase discounted items for students or families.

Potential for increased revenue due to more efficient ordering and upselling

Smooth restaurant operations contribute to stronger revenues. This is due to less downtime related to flustered staff members managing masses of impatient customer queues. With higher profit margins come happier owners—which generally bodes well for workers. Additionally, research has shown that faster-moving lines result in increased sales. That’s because high-quality customer interactions pave the way for repeat visits.

Which QSRs are implementing electronic menus?

self-checkout-kiosks

Now, let’s take a quick look at two prominent QSRs leveraging the power of electronic menu boards with great success:

McDonald’s: Digital displays & future plans

McDonald’s has been exploring and implementing digital menu boards since 2006. This heavy investment has paid off handsomely. It resonates with consumers craving fast yet delicious meals. And, of course, they want it to be accurately executed!

With these enticing displays spurring appetite, McDonald’s adds remote management features granting significant time savings. Staff members can then reinvest this extra time into superior service. Today, their system includes mobile kiosks where customers can actually place an order. McDonald’s is definitely ahead of its time when it comes to QSR, but there is no reason smaller fish couldn’t keep up.

Taco Bell: Adapting menus for times of day and more

Taco Bell welcomed digital display technology into its fold around 2014. These boards give them a dynamic advantage when displaying unique menus tailored based on location and even time of day. Taco Bell forges deeper connections with its clientele by allowing a degree of personalization.

Digital displays’ flexibility offers staff members opportunities to accommodate changes. Perhaps it even contributes to innovative menu ideas that resonate with local clientele.

Potential impact on QSR employees

As technology continues to evolve, it is revolutionizing virtually every industry. As that natural progression has emerged, there is also a growing concern about job loss resulting from automation.

On the one hand, skeptics argue that adopting these systems could lead to job losses as restaurant staff becomes obsolete. On the other hand, proponents of digital menu boards contend that they can bring new job opportunities in areas like maintenance, operation, design, and technique updating.

Traditional roles may change as we transition to using advanced systems and media players, but QSR employees will likely need to learn new skills and technologies for managing digital menu boards.

The bottom line: Electronic menus make employees’ jobs easier

electronic-menus

As a digital signage provider, we don’t want any QSR workers to have any reason to fear these exciting advancements in technology. Ultimately, we believe that electronic menus and other forms of digital signage can have a positive impact on fast food workplaces.

Automating some aspects of the user experience, like ordering through kiosks or displaying new menus through digital means, can improve working conditions for human staffers. We are far past paper menus, which means there is no need for workers to struggle with limited-time promotions or erase chalkboard items one by one in a hurry. User-friendly digital signage software with customizable menu board templates is designed specifically for this purpose. Restaurant industry workers can now enjoy a less stressful work environment when content is digital.

So how exactly do these technological advances make life easier for QSR employees? Let’s explore some specific examples.

Streamlining the ordering process

First, electronic menu systems reduce customer-facing interaction timeframes. Staff members become available more consistently when attending preparatory duties at service counters. They have more focus and energy to provide a warm smile & prompt greetings upon customer entry.

Interactive digital menu boards can also operate around the clock. They automatically update with changes implemented via menu board software. The result is a streamlined ordering process that reduces wait times. It entirely removes one of the staff’s more time-consuming duties.

Finally, customers no longer have to wait in long lines or take up staff time with questions about prices or ingredients. Electronic menus offer all the information they need in plain sight.

Reducing errors

Errors in QSRs usually consist of incorrect orders, wrong prices, or missing ingredients. For instance, a McDonald’s order might have pickles when the customer asked specifically for no pickles or vice versa.

In the case of mobile ordering on web browsers, customers would be the ones inputting their own orders, eliminating the blame for human errors. Human misunderstandings between kitchen and service stations can mostly be avoided with an electronic menu. It provides accurate data for both customers and staff members.

Allowing employees to focus on other important tasks

Many essential aspects of running efficient QSR establishments still can’t be automated. As such, dedicating human resources to these tasks is crucial. However, by reducing the burden of manual ordering processes, electronic menus allow staff to focus on:

  • Food preparation
  • Quality control
  • Maintaining high levels of customer service
  • Ensuring cleanliness throughout the space

These areas still require a personal touch rather than automation. One potential side effect is that employees who previously spent much of their time on tasks that could be automated may now be able to apply their skills in a more significant way.

Impact on customer experience

Embracing digital tech and the changes that come with it can be difficult, but it also brings customers invaluable benefits during their limited dining occasions at QSRs. Here are just a few of the potential advantages:

Convenience

Electronic menus provide instant readouts of new items being offered or specials running at any given time. As an added bonus: guests can quickly view nutritional information or calorie counts associated with an updated menu. All without having to flip through cumbersome printed booklets or ask staff members for assistance.

Society continues to become more health-conscious and digitally connected. Maintaining transparency by providing greater detail will prove advantageous in building trust & loyalty! Guests increasingly seek the convenient experience digital menu boards offer.

Customization

The level of customization that is available through electronic menus empowers patrons within quick-serve facilities. Touchscreen menu displays positioned throughout locations or conveniently placed table-side kiosks encourage clients to craft an experience tailored to their individual diet & lifestyle preferences.

That being said, this advancement in convenience also has tangible business benefits. For starters, electronic menus allow for accessible mobile app funnels and the ability to monitor daily sales in real-time. It’s easy to see why QSRs are embracing electronic menu boards.

Accessibility

Offering this dining innovation extends beyond the realms of convenience alone. Well-designed electronic menu systems translate culinary choices into multiple languages as well. With it, you can cater to a diverse customer base. An accessible experience can also be provided to guests with hearing or vision difficulties. These people may struggle in noisy environments like busy restaurants.

Explore electronic menus for your QSR with Keyser

If you’re a QSR owner or operator looking to upgrade to electronic menus, consider partnering with experts in digital signage solutions. With an array of customizable options and sleek designs tailored specifically for the restaurant industry – let Keyser help ease your staff’s workloads while improving overall customer satisfaction through interactive menu experiences.

Making life easier for restaurant employees doesn’t mean sacrificing job opportunities. Instead, it empowers workers in fast-paced environments and allows customers to reap the benefits too. Embracing change can be daunting. But taking proactive steps toward progress today will secure your business’s future success tomorrow.

Get in touch with Keyser today for more information. We can help you every step of the way, from initial installation to playlist/slideshow creation.

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