Restaurants – especially those in the fast casual segment – have always been at the forefront of digital signage technology, and many innovations have emerged from this particular space. As the years have passed, however, competitors in this arena have realized that signage is no longer a luxury, but a strategic necessity that must be constantly refined and reconfigured to meet skyrocketing demands and expectations. In other words, fast casual restaurants have no choice but to integrate digital signage solutions – these technologies are now considered essential. 

To help strategists in this sector identify top trends and take advantage of everything today's signage systems have to offer, here's a glance at the top five reasons why fast casual restaurants are now investing in these tools more than ever before:

"Fast casual restaurants have no choice but to integrate digital signage solutions."

1. Agility between meals: In those pivotal moments between breakfast, lunch and dinner, fast casual restaurants must quickly yet subtly change the information displayed on their monitors, as different menus are developed for varying segments of the day. An article from Digital Signage Today also pointed out that an establishment can alter the atmosphere of the interior by customizing the colors and content types displayed from one meal time to the next. Restaurants that master the art of this transitional period will stand out from the rest and create a more cohesive customer experience. 

2. Eye-catching content: For many restaurant operators, the primary appeal of a signage strategy is the visually compelling content that can be displayed on high-definition monitors located throughout the facility. Today's fast casual competitors are incorporating prerecorded video, live news streams and even user-generated material into their signage platforms, entertaining and informing patrons. A blog article from the Georgia Restaurant Association argued that a stronger visual component is enough to convince any business leader to embrace digital signage. 

3. New menu requirements: FDA legislation is always in flux, but recent measures will have a direct impact on fast casual restaurants, according to Digital Signage Today. The source pointed out that a section of the Affordable Care Act requires vendors with over 20 locations to provide customers with nutritional information for each menu item. To clearly and consistently convey this data to consumers, fast casual restaurant operators can embrace digital signage services to adhere to these new demands as they evolve and see stronger enforcement. 

"Digital menu boards take the pain out of compliance, making it easy to update the presentation of nutritional data, as needed," explained contributor Jeff Hastings in his article. 

Fast casual restaurants now rely on digital signage to inform and entertain guests at all times. Fast casual restaurants now rely on digital signage to inform and entertain guests at all times.

4. Cross-location control: The more franchises a company establishes, the more challenging it becomes to create digital signage platforms that target specific audiences and align with predetermined schedules. By employing dedicated digital signage software for fast casual restaurants, companies can better control the content dispersed across multiple locations, bolstering the consistency and quality of the message while simplifying operations for owners. 

"Going digital also allows brands to easily create consistent messaging across all stores," noted Rich Ventura, VP of business development and sales from NEC Display Solutions of America, according to Digital Signage Today.

5. Cost and simplicity: Prior to the rise of dedicated digital signage software, achieving the strategic objective defined above was far from an easy feat, especially for fast casual restaurants competing in smaller, regional arenas. While standard, Web-based media players might have offered a way to display basic sets of information and visuals, scheduling and streamlining this content was an expensive, complicated challenge. With today's solutions, crafting a winning digital signage strategy is a simple, cost-effective initiative that any business can launch with confidence.