Mobile Order Ahead and Digital Signage: Friend or Foe?

Mobile order ahead is becoming “table stakes” in the Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) industry and for a good reason. Brands are investing in technology to enable mobile order ahead because customers that use the technology spend more – anywhere between 18 and 30% more per ticket 1,2. Further, customers who download the QSR app increase frequency of visit by 6% 3. The mobile order ahead market is expected to grow at a Cumulative Aggregate Growth Rate (CAGR) of 57%, and to become a $38 Billion industry by 2020 and representing 10.7% of all QSR sales 4.

Even Starbucks, with their wildly successful mobile order ahead deployment, only sees 8% of the total US Starbucks Store Transactions through the mobile order ahead channel. The remaining 92% are still happening in-store – whether via mobile or at the register 4. This leaves a fantastic opportunity for Digital Signage to help drive upsell for customers who place orders in-store. Mobile order ahead brings new customers to restaurants, as Friday’s has experienced 5. Once that customer is in-store, why not take the opportunity to market to them for upsell items or for items to consider for their next visit?

Optimized Digital Signage deployment results vary across customers and based on customer specific goals, but we have seen Digital Signage drive lift anywhere between 3-10% of same store sales and yield as high as 200% for individual promoted items. Oftentimes, payback for in-store Digital Signage deployments, measured by lift, is realized in less than 12 months. Drive-thru Digital Signage deployment payback tends to take a few more months due to the cost of weather hardened screens and enclosures. Brands like McDonald’s are experimenting with pickup at counter, pickup at drive-thru, and pickup curbside.

These new options create an excellent opportunity to leverage personalization used in the mobile app with Digital Signage to create a personalized experience for each customer.

Because a mobile order ahead customer has a QSR app or a food ordering marketplace app, the Digital Signage platform can leverage data and integration to enhance the customer’s overall experience. By leveraging location aware technology and backend systems integration, digital signs can greet customers by name, provide an update on their order status, suggest limited time offers or upsell items for this visit or for consideration on the customer’s next visit. By leveraging this personalization, QSR’s can aim to generate the return consistent with one-to-one marketing experiences which typically realize 2x the recall of television advertisements 6.

Are digital signs and mobile order ahead friend or foe? It is clearly evident that together, Digital Signage and Mobile Order ahead are friends – creating opportunities for collaboration to drive a superior customer experience and sales lift opportunities for the QSR.


1 Source: Business Insider, The Mobile Order Ahead Report, October 1, 2016
2 Source: Business Insider, “This is how Taco Bell, Starbucks, and other fast-food chains are using mobile to boost order values”, April 23, 2016
3 Source: QSR Magazine, “Chipotle to Launch Updated Mobile Ordering in the Fall”, August 17, 2017
4 Source: Business Insider, “This is how Taco Bell, Starbucks, and other fast-food chains are using mobile to boost order values”, April 23, 2016
5 Source:, “New Report: From Apps to Amazon, Why TGI Fridays is All in On Mobile Order-Ahead”
6 Source:

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