Tablet Restaurant Menus vs. Digital Menu Boards

Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 in DOOH

There are a number of technologies which are quickly being accepted by masses of restaurants, coffee shops and QSR (quick serve restaurants). Digital menu boards, while not new have now been successfully installed by some of the largest quick serve restaurant chains across the country, including Burger King and McDonald’s. Even Starbucks has been seen to have digital menu boards installed in a number of their coffee shops here in the Seattle area.

But what of digital tablet menus?

We have now expanded our service offerings beyond digital menu boards into the tablet menu segment. This represents a growth spot for high-end restaurants (or even those who wish to procure a $200 mock version of Apple’s popular iPad) wanting to push different menu items on their patrons. Much like a digital menu board a tablet PC can be used to showcase higher-end products, thereby increasing the ROI.


Because these tablet devices are all about the apps, we can certainly see they can also offer a way to entertain people who may spend some time waiting for their food to arrive. If the iPads are left open, then users can certainly spend time “dinking” around on them, playing games and potentially interacting with other guests in the restaurant.

If the world were bereft of budgets and monetary constraints we would all be able to have our cake and eat it too. But, alas we must pick and choose where to place our bets, our time and hope that we at least get a return on investment that beats inflation by some margin and that we all can have some leftovers after lunch. Investing in technology which can be considered a luxury is no different. Digital or electronic menu boards (or at least some form of them) have been around for a very long time. Their digital dominance in the in-store restaurant marketing world is now being challenged by a much smaller, more nimble step-sister: the tablet menu.


The question is this, do these devices compete with one another? Is it a zero-sum game in terms of investing in digital menu technology when comparing these two devices? Of course it is. So what is the difference between the two? Can they coexist as partners or will they always be mortal enemies as time elapses? My answer is no. Here are a few reasons why.

First, both technologies, while high-end in their offerings are serving a very different segment of the restaurant market. Menu boards are for more fast-food, QSR style restaurants like a Wendy’s, McDonald’s, or In-n-Out Burger. On the other hand, tablet menus serve a much different crowd in the restaurant arena: they are for sit-down, dine-in restaurants where people come to have a good time and spend a little more dough.

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