5 min read

TOP-4 Restaurant Digital Signage Trends of 2024

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
February 4, 2024
May 29, 2024

2023 was an interesting year for the restaurant industry. In-house dining returned after several years of COVID stagnation, off-premise dining continued to grow, and fast-casual was on the rise. As we’re entering 2024, it’s important to formulate restaurant digital signage trends that will dominate this year. And it looks like we’re going to have an exciting competition in creativity and content delivery.

Here are the top digital signage trends for restaurants in 2024.  

AI at the drive-thru

Drive-thru is a staple of the fast-food experience. And we’ve gone a long way since the very first drive-thru restaurant. It was in 1947 that Red’s Giant Hamburg in Missouri elevated the drive-in by adding an option of ordering straight from your car.

While it was the human in 1947, in 2024 it’s the artificial intelligence that is going to take your orders. AI is among the hottest restaurant digital signage trends and we’re sure to see companies implementing this technology in their customer experience in one way or another.

2023 saw a growth of fast-food chains using automated chatbots for processing orders. Presto Automation Inc. made rounds in the press last year for producing the AI-powered drive-thru system for Del Taco. The operations are enabled by the screen. It’s, basically, a digital menu board but with augmented capabilities of communicating with an ordering consumer.

Here’s how it works: 

Then Wendy’s introduced the so-called FreshAI drive-thru that follows the same principle. You talk to the screen. Your order gets processed. You get your food. According to the company, the innovation resulted in a 22-second faster service time and averaged 86% in order accuracy. 

Another company that has been one of the pioneers of restaurant digitalization, McDonald’s, has not only introduced AI drive-thru screens all over the country but also announced a partnership with Google to bring the generative AI to actual restaurant operations in the back-of-house. 

Restaurants are really banking on the technology. While there were some hiccups in the application of AI ordering, it’s a work in progress. Artificial intelligence is constantly learning and getting it out in the wild of real-life ordering just makes it more powerful and accurate with every word said by the customer.

Digital signage is having the moment in the sun here as AI can only be effectively enabled with a screen in place. Displays serve as a “body” of the artificial intelligence and also visualize the ordering. 

Pivoting toward personalization

Customers demand better and more personalized experiences. The restaurants abide by using technology to cater to tastes and preferences. 

We’re in the hyper-personalization era, as Upmenu put it.

What does it mean? According to the website, hyper-personalization is an “advanced practice of tailoring every aspect of a customer’s dining experience to their individual preferences, behaviors, and needs.”

It’s among the top restaurant digital signage trends in 2024 because it’s the screens that enable such personalization. In other words, the digital menu boards get an upgrade. 

Paired with machine learning, AI acumen, social media data, and feedback, the screens become even more powerful in providing customers with a highly individual ordering experience that takes into account all preferences.

Making kitchens better and more cost-efficient

Innovation in the back-of-house matters too. And here the screens are actively used to boost productivity, create a smoother cooking experience, motivate employees, and ensure better cost efficiency. 

Forbes has made a big article on AI's impact on the restaurant industry that is a worthy read. From utilizing robots in the kitchen to streamlining kitchen operations by “optimizing ingredient usage, reducing waste, and enhancing the efficiency of food preparation,” there are just so many cool applications of technology. 

Also, digital signage is a game-changer for the ghost kitchens. 

What’s a ghost kitchen? Per USA Today, it’s “a digital-only restaurant that is available only on food delivery apps like Postmates, UberEats and GrubHub. These kitchens only offer food items and drinks from online brands, cutting out the storefront and human interaction of traditional eateries.”

While ghost kitchen is a trend in itself, pairing it with digital signage technology means increasing productivity and ameliorating the cooking experience. 

Ghost kitchens live from the data-driven insights and screens are making it easier to visualize data. 

Fully embracing the automation

Restaurants are increasingly investing in technology that potentially can eliminate labor. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and more of a sign of times. 

According to CNBC, “as the labor crunch pressures profit restaurants the restaurants are experimenting with automation.” Traumatized by the pandemic, the industry is making sure that it’s not dependent on the laborers anymore. In 2024 this transformation is set to be omnipresent across all types of restaurants. 

We’re talking about robots, self-service kiosks, automatic makers, automation startups, and innovative immersive ordering appliances. 

While machines can’t yet fully substitute the real workers, they are rapidly getting there. 

The self-ordering kiosks are a good example. According to Datos Insights, “the total number of restaurant kiosks globally increased by 43% in the two years to June 2023, nearing 350,000 installations.” That means that restaurants have not only embraced this technology, it is getting fully mainstream. 

Here’s a graph showing the growth: 

growth of kiosk installations

Screens enable the operation of self-service kiosks and digital signage will dominate the restaurant industry in 2024 in this way. 

Here is our previous list of Restaurant Digital Signage Trends

As the world enters 2021 with a pandemic still undefeated, it is time to rethink how people interact with each other. This is especially relevant for the restaurant industry which suffered a large hit by coronavirus-related restrictions. So here are the restaurant digital signage trends for 2021 to keep things that will matter this year in focus.

State of the restaurant industry 

2020 saw restaurants on the brink of catastrophe. The crisis was universal, hitting both the big chains and independent restaurants. Numbers don’t bring any positivity to the picture. One in four restaurants is at risk for closure per Forbes. According to the National Restaurant Association the industry has already lost $120 billion. And the pit just keeps getting bigger. 

While many turned to delivery as a lifeline, it is still unclear how the industry can survive another year of restrictions. The main risk for the restaurants as a whole is more of an existential nature too. As social distancing becomes a new norm, the social character of going out can change over the years. And this inevitably brings change to the ways restaurants operate and tests their ability to stay afloat and be competitive. 

Restaurant digital signage can help survive these turbulent times

Fortunately, not all is lost. There are ways and restaurant digital signage trends to save the industry and with proper analysis and flawless execution, the industry players can adapt to the pandemic world. Technology is one of the solutions. But not technology for technology’s sake. It is important to adopt features that work specifically for your restaurant and adopt them with an understanding of the outcomes. 

Restaurant digital signage is one such solution. Before the pandemic, it was a game changer. Now with COVID-19, it seems more relevant than ever.

Digital signage is here to help. 

Digital screen technology gives restaurants flexibility, speed and visual power. Customers may have changed the ways they interact with your restaurant but we still live in capitalism and competition is a strong part of the day-to-day life of a restaurant. To stand out and amaze you have to turn to proven marketing solutions.

TOP-6 restaurant digital signage trends of previous years

1. Digital menus go outdoors

The change from the regular paper-based menu to a digital one was already a great trend that shaped the ways how restaurants interact with customers before the pandemic. In 2021 digital menus became a necessity. And outdoor became in large part the only way to interact with a customer.

It is not enough to just implement it, it is vital to have your outdoor digital menu as enticing as possible to your potential customer. We are talking about the content here, the presentation of various propositions, and highlighting of the special offers. Your menu has to be interesting to look at. 

2. Brighter, flashier displays

When outdoors becomes the main competition arena for restaurants the brighter and flashier it is in many ways defines your success with a customer.

High-quality content shown on a bright screen that is seen from various angles will have a much better effect than a bleak presentation on a low-quality screen. So when choosing the right technology for your restaurant keep in mind how exactly the customer will see it. 

3. Queue management

One of the actual restaurant digital signage trends. Takeaway and delivery are currently the only options restaurants have to stay afloat where the lockdown restrictions are in place. Delivery means dealing with different services that make sure that your food comes to the customer. That’s when time management becomes crucial to bringing your customer the best experience possible in present circumstances. While you can’t control the delivery services, you can make their work more organized with digital signage queue management. 

Deploy screens at your restaurant that will show the orders and waiting times. This will make the delivery process more organized and disciplined. Also, as digital screens are versatile, once the things are back to normal, you will be able to use them for other purposes like showing promotions, interacting with customers or as digital menu boards. So it’s always a win-win for you. 

4. Self-service kiosks

Social distancing has been heralded as one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of COVID-19. For the restaurant industry that means less human-to-human interaction. Self-service kiosks were already a big thing for the industry but in the pandemic era they are more than relevant. 

Deploying a self-service screen means not only limiting the interaction between your customers and staff but it also gives you a powerful marketing tool. The kiosk serves as both the digital menu and as a content machine that you can use to present promotion deals, add social media elements, inform and amaze. And again, it is very versatile too. With proper software you can adapt the self-service kiosk to your marketing needs. 

5. Playing an active part in a coronavirus fight

Restaurants are social establishments. One of the reasons for lockdowns around the world is to limit the interactions between persons. That’s why when everything reopens the main challenge will be to make sure that people are following the social distancing rules. Screen technology is one of the best ways to make this communication effective. Digital signage is quick and visual and it helps to get the message through. 

If you already implement the screen technology at your restaurant, the coronavirus information can be easily combined with the marketing content. Not only are you making sure that the social distancing measures are being followed, you’re also sending a clear message to your customers that you care about their wellbeing. 

6. Social media integration

The last of restaurant digital signage trends. Social media is omnipresent in our lives. Restaurants heavily rely on it to spread the word about their proposition, put themselves on the map, promote new stuff, communicate with present and potential customers. Being social is absolutely vital for a restaurant in 2021. Digital signage helps drastically with that. 

When you have indoor or outdoor screens you can easily use them for social media promotion. Display your handles on networks, craft eye-popping call-to-action asking to subscribe, make social media competitions, interact with your customers in real-time, gather feedback and display it. Get creative with your promotion and make screens work for you, according to actual restaurant digital signage trends.

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