The Modern QSR Requires an Evolved Drive-thru Experience

3 min read
Published March 6, 2023   |  Last Updated March 1, 2024


What is QSR Experience?

Have you ever found yourself in a rush and craving a quick burger or fries? If so, you're not alone. Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) have long been a staple of American cuisine, providing customers good food that is both convenient and affordable. And while the drive-thru experience has been evolving for decades, recent technological advancements have significantly accelerated the pace of change.

New technologies have emerged to automate and drive patterns of customer behavior. In particular, digital menu boards have become the norm, and customers now expect them. QSRs need to have several things on their radar to keep up and keep growing. Let's take a closer look at how technology is changing the quick service restaurant industry and what operators can do to stay ahead of the competition.

Integrating end-to-end solutions

One of the key components of a successful drive-thru program is integrating a solution that brings hardware, software, and content together in one connected experience. Many of these new technologies have been inspired by changes in customer behaviors found in the Gen Z store. A fully integrated solution enables QSRs to scale their digital offerings as they grow and evolve. For example, a solution that offers standard light box menu boards that can be easily swapped for digital screens allows operators to test the effectiveness of digital signage and expand their use as needed.

In addition to hardware and software integration, it's essential to integrate with point-of-sale (POS) systems. By doing so, operators can update the entire customer-facing menu offering in real-time to reflect changes in inventory, daypart, and prices. This ensures customers always have access to the most up-to-date menu options and allows operators to respond quickly to changes in demand or supply.

Choose the right service partners

When implementing or upgrading their drive-thrus, operators should consider several important factors and ask suppliers specific questions. Before picking one, operators should check how well the potential provider has installed and maintained digital signs in the past. Operators must choose a reputable, experienced digital signage services company that can help enhance the whole drive-thru experience. Additionally, a content design team with a successful track record digital menu board menu design and content management is necessary for providing an experience that is both visually appealing and intentionally designed to drive key ordering behaviors.

Gathering useful metrics and insights

Guest behaviors can provide valuable operational insights to help QSR operators make informed decisions and improve their drive-thru experience. By analyzing metrics — throughput by day part, transaction and order size, unique vs. repeat visitation, wait and service time, and the most/least popular menu items at the drive-thru — operators can identify areas that need improvement to optimize their menu and operations accordingly.

Personalization and engagement strategies

The rise of mobile ordering and third-party delivery has drastically changed the drive-thru experience. QSR retailers have implemented personalization and identification tools to identify customers quickly and provide appropriate communication. They now segment customers into (1) Known, (2) Unknown, and (3) Concierge guests with targeting messages accordingly. Operators can educate customers on their brand ethos, commitment to sustainability, or other factors that key targets can affiliate themselves with to better engage off-prem customers while they wait for their orders.

The future of drive-thru and off-premise dining

With the continued growth of mobile ordering and third-party delivery, there is no doubt that the drive-thru segment will continue to be a major focus for the restaurant industry in the years to come. As more and more customers seek fast, convenient, and contactless ways to order and receive their food, restaurants will need to continue developing new tools and strategies to meet these demands. From voice-activated ordering to AI-powered recognition systems, many exciting developments on the horizon could help revolutionize the drive-thru experience and keep customers coming back for more.

Elevate your digital signage ambitions

To keep up with the latest drive-thru technology and stay ahead of the competition, QSRs should choose full-service, digital signage solutions companies like Creative Realities – who have been recognized and awarded by the signage industry — to take the lead. They can provide the necessary tools and support to succeed, including content solutions and personalized engagement strategies. So, don't wait to transform your drive-thru experience. Contact Creative Realities at, or visit for the latest use cases specific to QSRs and drive-through experiences.