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What is a digital menu board?

A digital menu board is a screen that displays a restaurant or retailer’s menu electronically instead of using printed posters or boards. Digital menu boards allow businesses to easily update and customize their menus and pricing, as well as display promotional content to catch customers’ attention.

What are the benefits of digital menu boards?

There are several key benefits to using digital menu boards:

  • Allows quick and easy menu updates – Menus and prices can be changed instantly across all screens. This saves on printing costs of paper menus.
  • Displays dynamic content – Digital boards can show video and imagery alongside the menu to showcase products.
  • Customizable layouts – Menu categories and items can be moved around easily according to what you want to promote.
  • Upselling capability – Suggestive selling and promotions can be programmed in to encourage customers to purchase more.
  • Analytics and data – Get detailed insights into what menu items are most popular and at what times.
  • Increased order accuracy – Digital menus prevent confusion with illegible handwritten menus.
  • Improved order speed – Order accuracy improves customer service and kitchen workflow.

The benefits of digital menu boards allow restaurants and retailers to optimize their menu strategy, promotions, and kitchen operations. Customer service and order accuracy improve as a result.

What are the key features of digital menu boards?

Modern digital menu boards provide a range of useful features:

  • Easy content uploads – Upload new menus, prices, images and videos quickly via USB, online management or app.
  • Day parting – Display different menus or promotions based on the time of day.
  • Open API integration – Integrate with POS systems, inventory management and other software platforms.
  • Remote management – Update all screens across multiple locations from a central CMS.
  • Versatile displays – Landscape, portrait, video walls, interactive touchscreens, etc.
  • Advanced scheduling – Schedule different content, menus, promotions far in advance on specific dates and times.
  • Vivid image and video – Engaging content displayed in ultra high resolution 4K.
  • Temperature durability – Withstands hot kitchens and cold freezer display cases.
  • Analytics – Get detailed sales and customer behavior analytics to optimize operations.

Today’s digital signage technology allows almost any type of menu content to be displayed, while being easy to update and manage from anywhere. Advanced integrations and analytics provide valuable business insights.

What types of businesses use digital menu boards?

Here are some examples of businesses that commonly use digital menu boards:

  • Quick service restaurants (QSR) – Fast food chains like McDonalds, KFC, Subway use digital menu boards and kiosks.
  • Fast casual restaurants – Fast casual chains like Panera Bread, Chipotle, Shake Shack use digital menus.
  • Full service restaurants – Full service chains like Applebee’s, Chili’s install digital boards as well as handheld tablets at tables.
  • Coffee shops – Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, Costa Coffee use interactive menu displays.
  • Pizza restaurants – Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut utilize digital display for their frequently changing menus.
  • Convenience stores – 7-Eleven, Wawa, Circle K use digital boards at the order counter and on gas pumps.
  • Grocery stores – Kroger, Safeway, Whole Foods have digital displays in the deli section and at checkout.
  • Pharmacies – CVS, Walgreens use digital menu boards to promote immunizations and pharmacy services.
  • Retail stores – Walmart, Target, Ikea use digital displays strategically throughout the store to highlight promotions.

The benefits of easily updateable menus, promotions and pricing make digital boards highly useful for food service businesses. Retailers also leverage digital signage to highlight in-store promotions and direct customer flow.

What are the components of a digital menu board system?

A complete digital menu board system consists of:

  • Displays – The screen(s) which show the digital content. A variety of display form factors exist.
  • Media player – The small set-top box that outputs the images/video to the display.
  • Content management software (CMS) – The software that allows remote updating and management of content.
  • Cables and mounts – Cables connect the player to the display. Mounts securely install the displays.
  • Networking equipment – Routers, switches and cabling provide network connectivity.
  • Optional accessories – These include options like touch screen overlays, protective enclosures, remote controls, etc.

Determining the required quantity and specifications for each component is important in designing an effective digital menu board deployment.


Digital menu board displays are commonly available with the following attributes:

  • Screen size – From 10 inches to 100+ inches diagonal.
  • Resolution – Minimum 1080p HD, up to ultra HD 4K or 8K.
  • Aspect ratio – 16:9 widescreen or portrait oriented displays.
  • Brightness – Measured in nits, often 700+ nits for high visibility.
  • Viewing angle – 178° or wider optimal for public viewing.
  • Durability – Tempered glass faceplate and commercial or industrial grade components.
  • Bezel – Thin bezel for seamless multi-panel video walls.

Selecting the right display specs depends on viewing distances, lighting conditions and budget. Larger or multiple displays can engage customers from further away or across large spaces.

Media Players

The media player is the small set-top box that connects to the display. Features include:

  • Video outputs – HDMI, DVI, VGA or USB ports to connect to display(s).
  • Storage – Internal storage capacity for playlists and content files.
  • WiFi – Wireless network connectivity for content updates.
  • OS – Commercial-grade Linux or Android operating system.
  • Reliability – Solid state commercial-grade components.
  • Scheduling – Schedule playlists for different times of day.
  • Compatibility – Works seamlessly with remote content management systems.

Choosing a reliable, compatible media player ensures smooth operation and integration with the display network and CMS software.

Content Management System

The content management system (CMS) software enables remote updating and management of the digital menu boards from any internet-connected device. Key capabilities include:

  • Cloud-based access
  • Drag and drop content uploads
  • Centralized updates to unlimited screens
  • User access controls and permissions
  • Scheduling future content playback
  • Health monitoring and status
  • Compatible APIs for external integrations
  • Usage analytics and proof-of-play reporting

A user-friendly CMS dashboard allows non-technical users to update menu boards across multiple locations with ease.

How much do digital menu board systems cost?

The cost of a digital menu board system can range quite a bit based on the components chosen. Here are some typical pricing ranges:

  • Display – $300-$3000 each depending on size, resolution and durability needs.
  • Media player – $120-$700 depending on performance and storage.
  • Software – $50-$150 per month per location for cloud-based CMS.
  • Installation – $100-$500 per display for standard installation including cables and mounts.
  • Total single screen system – $1000-$5000 for display, player, software and installation.
  • Multi-screen video wall – $5000-$50,000+ depending on number and configuration of displays.

Larger restaurant chains and retailers with dozens of locations typically invest over $100,000 in their complete digital menu board system including multiple displays per location.

With the benefits of easy menu updates, engaging customer experience and data-driven insights, the payback period on a digital menu board system is often under 2 years.

What are the steps in implementing a digital menu board system?

The typical project process includes the following steps:

  1. Audit locations – Evaluate viewing angles, lighting, cabling runs, and surface areas for display mounting at each location.
  2. Determine needs – Select screen sizes, quantities, specs based on menu size and customer viewing distances.
  3. Select components – Choose displays, media players, software platform, cabling, mounts and accessories.
  4. Create content – Design engaging menu templates, promotional images and videos.
  5. Install hardware – Professionally install and configure displays, cabling and players at each location.
  6. Implement CMS – Set up centralized software platform and user logins.
  7. Upload content – Add menus, pricing, promotions to the CMS for publishing.
  8. Manage and update – Ongoing use of CMS to update content on the fly.
  9. Analyze data – Review software analytics to optimize menus over time.

Leveraging an experienced digital signage integrator simplifies the end-to-end process. Proper installation, strategic content creation, and adoption of the CMS will ensure maximum ROI on the investment.

What are some best practices for digital menu content?

Some best practices for digital menu content include:

  • Use high resolution images of menu items that look appealing.
  • Keep text short, clear and legible with minimal font varieties.
  • Highlight highest profit or most popular items prominently.
  • Draw attention to new products or specials.
  • Make beverage menus and add-ons prominent.
  • Ensure branding consistency across all display screens and locations.
  • Animate transitions between menu categories for visual interest.
  • Use templates sized appropriately for each display screen.
  • Update regularly based on promotions, pricing changes, seasonal items.
  • Place actionable calls-to-action like “Order Now” as applicable.

The most effective digital menu board content balances vibrant design with clear communication of menu options. Updating content frequently keeps customers engaged each visit.

What are some tips for getting the most from a digital menu board system?

Follow these tips to maximize the results from your digital menu investment:

  • Train staff on quickly updating and scheduling content
  • Show daily specials and high profit items
  • Advertise catering options and delivery where applicable
  • Promote brand engagement opportunities like loyalty programs
  • Refresh menu layouts seasonally or for holidays
  • Use data insights to optimize menu and kitchen efficiency
  • Display order wait times to set customer expectations
  • Integrate with inventory systems and order-ahead apps
  • Add dayparting schedules to automate content changes
  • Take advantage of dynamic pricing flexibility

Digital menus enable greatly improved restaurant and retail operations compared to static prints. Training staff to leverage the technology provides major benefits.

What are the pros and cons of digital menu boards versus static menus?

Digital Menu Boards Static Menu Boards
  • Frequently updateable
  • Interactive capabilities
  • Display promotions easily
  • Data analytics
  • Lower upfront cost
  • Simple to print and post
  • Higher upfront cost
  • Technical installation
  • Hard to update frequently
  • No customization ability
  • No analytics or interactivity

When evaluating analog printed menus versus digital menu boards, the updatability and customization of digital displays provide significant advantages relative to the lower cost of basic static menu boards.

What are some innovations in digital menu board technology?

Some recent innovations advancing digital menus include:

  • Interactivity – Touchscreens allow customers to view nutrition, order ahead or play games.
  • Drive-thrus – Outdoor displays with integrated speakers and microphones.
  • Personalization – Integration with loyalty apps to show customized promotions.
  • Mobile integration – Digital companions to handheld tablets used by servers.
  • Facial recognition – Audience analytics based on facial demographics.
  • Voice control – Voice activated menu boards utilizing AI technology.
  • Augmented reality – Immersive 3D visuals and animations.
  • Motion sensors – Displays that update based on viewer proximity or actions.

As the cost of large digital displays falls, innovators are leveraging new technologies like mobile, AR and AI to create more engaging, personalized and convenient digital menu experiences.


Digital menu boards provide significant operational and customer experience benefits compared to traditional static menu boards. With frequently updateable content, impactful visuals and detailed analytics, digital menus allow restaurants and retailers to optimize menus, promotions, kitchen production and ultimately sales. Advancements in interactivity, personalization and emerging technologies will continue to enhance digital menus and customer engagement.