Digital Display Usage In Drive-Thru Spiked In COVID Era, But Research Suggests Industry Far From Built Out: Study
October 6, 2021 by Dave Haynes
QSR Magazine covers guess what and does an annual, very thorough study of what’s happening with the drive-thru side of that business. It is required reading for anyone selling display hardware or software into that space, and provides some intriguing insights about how much things changed when COVID-19 turned up.
Under a headline suggesting the future of fast-food drive-thru came early, the study suggests: “While many fast-food chains welcomed 70 percent of sales via drive-thru before coronavirus, the number jolted well above 90 percent overnight. The effort to survive pandemic conditions fast became a crash course in operations.”
It’s a lengthy piece and better that you read it than have me try to sum it up. But there are some interesting charts that would be helpful in understanding what’s going on, how things have changed, and where deployments are at.
For example, the study suggests there are still a lot of QSR operations that have not yet gone digital with drive-thru menu or pre-sell displays. I kinda thought McDonald’s was fully built out, but maybe not. One way or the other, it has the highest adoption rate and Dunkin’ Donuts the lowest among the major national QSRs:
It is the same story for pre-sell displays – the digital poster promo displays that are positioned earlier in the drive-thru lane to influence ordering:
There is also interesting data about the impact that displays have on ordering times, which tends to be super-important to operators. The faster you can move motorists through the process, the more sales during busy periods.
This is with digital menu displays:
And this is without:
As the chart suggests, half a minute per car is a big difference. That in theory would mean digital menu displays could help process 120 more orders per hour. If I have that math right (always a risky assumption), the ROI on drive-thru screens would be rapid.
As noted, TONS of useful information in this report about how the QSR and fast casual restaurant businesses are adjusting and trying new formats, and for the most part investing heavily in digital display. Good news for a bunch of companies focused on designing and manufacturing outdoor-ready displays.