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How Much Do Digital Menu Boards Really Cost?

Digital menu boards are taking the restaurant business by storm and for good reason. Digital menu boards help restaurants stand out from competitors with their eye-catching graphics, high readability, and ability to reduce perceived wait times.

Restaurant owners, restaurant chains, coffee shops, and quick-service restaurants (QSR) all over the world are reaping the benefits of replacing their static menus and printed menus with digital signs displaying menu items. But digital menu boards are not strictly for those in the food service industry.

Most businesses that offer services, such as beauty salons or an auto repair shop, can also make use of digital menu boards, highlighting their services in an aesthetically pleasing and informative way, enabling them to upsell products and display real-time updates depending on the time of day.

Since so many different types of businesses are looking to make use of digital menu boards, a very common question is, “how much do digital menu boards really cost?” Answering this question isn’t as simple as it seems.

Not only are there a variety of digital displays that can be used for digital menu boards, but there are also other costs associated with digital menu boards, such as the digital signage media players and digital signage software, installation costs, and maintenance costs.

In this article, we will go over all of the costs associated with getting a digital menu board. But don’t worry if you are hoping to get a digital menu board. The benefits of a digital menu board more often than not greatly exceed the costs of getting a digital menu board set up in your establishment.

Still, it is good to have all of the information available before you decide to go forward with the integration of a digital menu board into your business.

What Are Digital Menu Boards?

A digital menu board is a display system that combines a display screen with a digital signage media player and software to display menus, special promotions, and more. It includes images, videos, and animations that will instantly capture the customer’s attention.

With digital menu boards, you can help your customers make ordering decisions more quickly, provide them with the best customer experience possible, and boost overall store revenue.

The Considerations and Cost of Digital Signage Displays

Choosing the perfect TV display for digital signage can be a bit of an overwhelming process at first. Simply put, there’s no less than a handful of questions you need to answer that isn’t always so easy to decipher: What brand should I buy? What screen size do I need? What features are necessary and unnecessary? And so on.

Consumer vs. Commercial Displays

There are two types of screens on the market: commercial-grade and consumer-grade. There are a few things you should consider when choosing between the two:

Commercial-grade display

Although a commercial screen is usually in a higher price range, it can operate 24/7 as it’s built with commercial settings in mind and has a longer valid warranty period. A commercial-grade screen has a brightness range from 300 to 1,500 nits, ensuring the screen won’t get washed out even when under direct sunlight.

On top of that, the frame (bezels) around the screen is thinner to ensure the visibility area of the screen is larger. This also eliminates the branding of the TV manufacturers, which is ideal if you only want your branding to be the focus.

Consumer-grade display

A consumer-grade screen can be purchased at a lower price range. However, it is worth noting that the warranty is typically voided if you use the display in a commercial environment. The consumer-grade screen is built for personal use, such as watching at home.

As the screen is not built for 24/7 usage, it has a notably shorter lifespan when compared to commercial-grade displays. As the brightness ranges from 150 to 250 nits, a consumer-grade display is significantly dimmer than a commercial-grade screen. As a result, the display will be washed out under direct sunlight and the displayed content will be hard to read. The bezels are thicker and show the TV brand clearly.

As a general rule, it is usually best to opt for a commercial display over a consumer TV when it comes to picking a digital signage screen. Sure, they are more expensive at the point of purchase, but in the long run, they make their worth abundantly clear.

In fact, commercial displays have longer warranties, much longer lifespans, and much more processing power. If you plan on putting some serious miles on your screen, then a commercial display is absolutely the way to go.

Screen Size

Where the screen will be placed as well as potential viewing angles are important. The display size depends largely on the screen location. You want it large enough to ensure visibility, but the display should also blend in well with the surroundings. For high-impact signage, you may even opt for a full wall-sized screen.

LED or LCD

Although LCDs are sometimes less expensive than LEDs, the latter is usually the best choice for digital menu boards. That’s because LEDs consume less power and generate less heat, which makes them more suitable for long-term operation in a restaurant environment. In addition, most LED screens are now thinner and lighter, which gives you more flexibility in installation.

Resolution

Today, 1080p displays are your best bet for digital menu boards, because they provide crisp, highly readable text and HD graphics. Although 720p may be tempting for some environments, you will certainly lose some of the clarity, making the menu board less readable for certain viewers.

Refresh Rate

Because digital menu boards have fairly static content, you can opt for a standard refresh rate of 60Hz, even if the display will include some video. This will ensure that any motion will appear crisp, without costing your customer unnecessary investment.

Considerations for Outdoors Digital Menu Boards

Often fast food restaurants will have outdoor digital menu boards for their drive-thrus, and choosing the right digital signage option for these outdoor digital menus requires some further consideration.

  • Weatherproofing: Opt for a screen that is specially designed for outdoor operation or find weatherproof housing for a traditional display.
  • Glare: Although matte screens are easier to read outside, blurriness becomes a factor. Today, most VARs opt for a glossy screen with a matte overlay, which makes glare a non-issue.
  • Brightness: Standard screens won’t be readable in sunlight, so seek outdoor displays that provide additional brightness.

Advanced Options

The type of digital signage you implement will depend on your needs and objectives. Features such as touch screens and full-wall-sized displays are available. These designs come at a higher cost. If a high impact is what you want, then it might be worth looking into one of these more unique options.

What is the Digital Menu Board Cost?

Digital menu boards' price ranges start at under $500, including a TV, to over $2,000 for solutions with high-end commercial displays. If you are choosing a digital signage display for a digital menu board, it is often best to go for a higher upfront cost because it will ultimately pay off in the long run because it will last longer and will have the added benefits of being more aesthetically appealing.

Examples of Pricing for Popular Options

  • TCL 65″ 6-Series 4K Roku Smart TV – This model offers superior 4K Ultra HD picture clarity combined with Dolby Vision HDR (High Dynamic Range) for crisp, clear images largely thanks to mini-LED and Quantum light technology. Price = $1,299.
  • Sony X950G 65” TV: 4K Ultra HD Smart LED – Provides a superior contrast ratio thanks to its full-array local-dimming backlight for deeper blacks. Plus, 120 Hz refresh rate delivers superior motion dynamics. Price = $1,499.
  • Samsung QET Series 75″ (Commercial Grade) – Features eye-catching UHD resolution Crystal Display with an ultra-slim design. Includes MagicINFO Lite digital signage software. This display has a 3-year onsite warranty. It is built to operate 16 hours a day and 7 days a week. Price = $2,250.

Digital Signage Solutions and Digital Signage Software

Digital signage solutions are a necessary component of digital menu boards. Digital signage solutions provide the digital signage media player and the digital signage software that has the content management system that enables you to engage in content creation, digital signage playlist curation, and content display, providing you with menu board templates, fonts, and other useful tools for digital menu design.

While some digital signage solutions will cost you up to 95+ per screen, there are luckily some other high-quality options that will not negatively affect your bottom line.

While cloud-based digital signage solutions require the use of wifi to connect with an of-base server, for which the company will charge you, loop offers a high-quality digital signage media player with all the digital signage software that you will need for a great-looking and highly dynamic digital menu board free of cost.

This can be a huge cost saver for your business without having to sacrifice quality. It might seem too good to be true, but loop is very very real. While cloud-based digital signage will require that you pay for digital signage licensing, the hardware-based digital signage option provided by loop is absolutely free and comes loaded with content, so you won’t need to consider licensing when it comes to your digital menu board budgeting.

Wall Mounts

It’s difficult to quantify display mount costs as it depends largely on where the signage will be placed. For example, for displays mounted higher up on the wall, an angled mount will be needed. In other cases, requirements maybe include movable mounts with hinged arms.

In every case, it makes sense to go with high quality. Plus, you’ll want to choose a mount that is as low profile as possible. In conclusion, the signage should get the attention, not a big, bulky mount.

Digital signage mounts can cost anywhere from $50 to $350+. Meanwhile, digital signage cabling should use high-grade cables, which are more durable and improve transmission speed. A 4K Displayport to HDMI Cable costs about $13 for 6 feet of cable.

The benefits of wall mounts can not be underestimated. A mounted digital menu board makes the content much more visible to customers. Moreover, mounted digital menus save valuable floor space, and in general, they look far more professional than digital menu boards that are not mounted.

Cost of Digital Menu Board Installation

Labor costs may vary widely by region and provider. Plus, there’s a huge difference between installing a simple 55’ wall-mounted display vs. an entire wall-sized screen.

A simple single-screen installation will cost around $200. For larger projects, the price can vary significantly so it pays to get two or three price estimates. Also, make sure your installer has digital sign installation experience since factors such as wiring, mounting, and screen angles should be considered.

Cost of Digital Menu Board Content Creation

This might be the most variable cost of signage factor of all since it totally depends on the digital signage content you plan to transmit on your digital signs. For example, static text vs. fully interactive touchscreen content will have a huge price difference.

Content creation costs should be included in the monthly budget for your overall digital signage campaign costs. Start-up and installation costs are not included or part of your content costs.

IT Support and Maintenance

Every digital system will require maintenance and troubleshooting from time to time. Consequently, capable and experienced in-house IT teams might be able to handle this on their own. If not, it makes sense to outsource it. The advantage of outsourcing is that digital signage specialists know exactly how to approach a problem. They can fix issues faster, and in most cases, have a lower overall cost.

Making the Most of the Benefits of Digital Menu Boards

As you can see from this article, the costs of digital menu boards are highly variable and will largely depend on the requirements of your business, as well as the upfront costs your business is willing and able to expend.

While some might think that going with lower-quality digital signage displays will be more cost-effective, the truth is that you get the quality that you pay for. If you want to get the most out of your digital menu boards, it is sometimes better to pay more upfront and save money later.

Getting the right digital menu board solution will require some soul searching, as well as an assessment of your budget, but you will find that the improvement of the customer experience and the resulting increase in revenue will be well worth the costs.