The Fast Food buyer journey. Drive Thru Headset Intercom System Kit

The QSR buyer journey requires outdoor-ready displays


Convenience is shaping the buyer’s journey at quick-service restaurants (QSR) these days as drive-thru, delivery and curbside pickup have become the preferred methods over the past few years. That’s backed up by data that shows drive-thru traffic rose 30% from 2019 to 2022, while in-person dining at fast-food restaurants dropped 47% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019.

Curbside pickup has also grown significantly in popularity, even more so than drive-thru. In fact, 41% of one of U.S. consumers called curbside pickup their top choice when ordering take-out. Perhaps more importantly, customers arrive in buy mode, which can boost the additional buy rate by up to 45%.

With that in mind, it’s imperative QSRs employ the most effective outdoor-ready displays and menu boards to help guide customers and inspire further purchases on arrival, whether drive-thru or curbside. Here’s how.

Putting outdoor screens to work
The uptick in drive-thru ordering and curbside pickup means many QSR operators are now expanding their services, introducing dual lanes, order-ahead lanes and dedicated parking spaces for curbside pickup. This is where super-bright outdoor displays can make a big difference in profit margins. QSRs with drive-thru lanes, for example, use a drive-thru sign outdoors to promote new items and specials as motorists approach the order station. The same goes for curbside pickups, when customers may see these signs and respond with additional purchases.

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That means outdoor displays, such as Samsung QMB and OH series, should be properly engineered, designed and certified to operate effectively in a wide range of weather conditions — and be fully readable under the direct glare of the sun. That becomes even more important when factoring speed into the process. This is key, as research by Bluedot shows 85% of consumers will consider or leave a drive-thru if they see a long line, and 6 in 10 will consider buying food at a coffee chain if fast food drive-thrus have a long line.

High-quality outdoor-ready displays can help increase speed and efficiency, by directing them to the shortest line, communicating information more clearly, illustrating options and add-ons, updating the availability of items, and promoting meal deals and bundles.

Choosing outdoor-ready screens
Outdoor displays, including the best drive-thru menu boards, are very different than those used inside QSR buildings. Here’s how they differ:

Brighten the day: A menu screen behind the order counter needs a brightness rating of just 500 nits, or even less. But an outdoor screen needs a rating of 3,000 nits or higher to fully counteract the impact of direct sunlight and ensure menus can be read. Displays with lower brightness ratings may look good in the showroom, but when positioned in real-world conditions, they lose the battle with the sun.

Keep cool under pressure: An outdoor display must also be engineered to counteract and shed heat. The extra brightness and nits that make signs readable in daylight produce a lot of heat, which is intensified by the thermal load from the direct midday sun.
Designed to last: Well-designed outdoor enclosures have sophisticated internal systems that exhaust heat before it builds up and affects the screen and electronics. Outdoor displays with flawed engineering can fail or degrade quickly, with some screens even experiencing isotropic failures — ugly black blotches that develop from excessive internal heat buildup. Well-designed outdoor displays have engineering that seals the units against the ingress of rain, snow and dust, plus structural designs that ensure the units stay vertical, even in hurricane-force winds. DRIVETHRUCITY


Reduced costs and targeted impacts
There’s a reason QSRs are replacing printed menus with digital versions, both inside and outside of restaurants. The change from static to digital signage reduces printing and shipping costs, and digital menus can be updated in seconds, as opposed to days or even weeks when using paper or plastic menus.

Owners and operators also like being able to schedule menus to change by time of day — what’s commonly called dayparting. That means menu items like breakfast sandwiches disappear at a specified time and that promotions and specials can change according to time and date. Managers can even fine-tune menu options to customer buying habits and profiles, which may shift during the day or week, using a content management system such as MagicINFO.

MagicINFO and Samsung VXT, a cloud-based solution for digital signage, give QSRs and restaurant owners remote access to their Samsung OH series displays. This means they are able to react quickly to update content at an individual restaurant location or across an entire chain to boost brand awareness and drive sales. The technology also enables them to monitor their displays proactively, even if they are off-site, and take immediate action if there are any issues at multiple locations.

More relevant today
Outdoor displays were already a core part of many operators’ marketing and service delivery toolset. But as QSR establishments continue to change how they engage with customers, outdoor digital signage will become all the more relevant and necessary to adapt to the new buyer journey. DRIVETHRUCITY


Impact of in-store pickup for ecommerce orders

While Amazon's $10 offer to pick up purchases will reduce shipping costs, it is not the primary reason for the offer.

Amazon is seeking to increase foot traffic in its stores and gather customer behavior data for strategic planning and network design.

In addition, this is likely a test rather than a policy given that Amazon does not know which customers will accept the offer and will need to understand the impact on delivery density, returns and the environment.

Store of knowledge

Amazon accounts for 36.9 percent of all online sales but ecommerce only represents 20 percent of all retails sales in the United States, so, by increasing its store presence, Amazon can increase revenue.

Through the $10 offer, Amazon will push customers to stores, where 80 percent of retail sales happen, and can start selling more household consumables and replenishable where competitors such as Target and Walmart have a dominant position.

Pollen’s own data shows that curbside pickup as an additional buy-rate of up to 45 percent, meaning customers are already in buy-mode when they arrive at the store and walk into the store to buy additional items that were not part of their curbside pickup. DRIVETHRUCITY

Target has been adding additional services to their already successful curbside pickup including returns and even Starbucks in some locations – that is quite the “Target run.”

As Amazon gains data on the $10 offer, it will understand which customers are more likely to accept the offer, when and where, and understand which products customers are willing to pick up versus those products that customers still choose to have delivered.

By understanding the conditions for acceptance, Amazon will be able to tailor the offering as needed to encourage desired customer behavior.

This data will be incorporated into its future strategic planning and network design as Amazon will know where it needs to build additional stores, fulfillment centers, delivery stations, know which items needed to be stocked in each location, which services to offer in stores, and understand how this offer affects delivery density and route optimization.

Will it deliver?

Amazon can update its returns process by bringing more customers to its own stores versus sending customers to other retailers or carrier locations which will further drive in-store buy rates. This will improve the returns process, especially when combined with in-store pickups.

There is still an opportunity to revolutionize returns from a process to an experience with box-less, label-less pickups from customers’ doorsteps when those customers are not going to a store for pickups. Retailers must offer experience optionality from buying to returns. DRIVETHRUCITY

The final mile is expensive and difficult to optimize.

In many ways, faster delivery is its own worst enemy as faster delivery drives sales but sales drives additional delivery cost and complexity.

Amazon’s $10 offer will provide Amazon insights into when, where and how to mitigate this cycle as changes in customer behavior will change delivery density and route optimization. This may have unintended consequences as too many customers randomly accepting the offer may cost Amazon more than $10 each with less dense, less optimized routes.

Amazon will likely contemplate the environmental impact of all these changes – from increased store footprint to more customers driving inefficient, point-to-point miles and potentially less optimized delivery routes. Amazon has a stated Net Zero goal by 2040.

AMAZON, TARGET AND Walmart are involved in an interesting strategy intersection with delivery capabilities and store presence that will continue to benefit customers in the short-term.

The challenge, however, is if Amazon, Target and Walmart and other retailers continue to build their own capabilities and infrastructure without overlying existing supply chain infrastructure, customers will have a confusing array of non-interoperable apps and experiences. DRIVETHRUCITY

How can a drive thru intercom system help improve the in-store pickup experience?

A clear and efficient drive thru intercom system can help improve the in-store pickup experience in several ways:

Reduced wait times: By allowing customers to check in and confirm their orders from their cars, drive thru intercom systems can help to reduce wait times at the pickup counter. This can be especially beneficial during busy times.
Improved accuracy: Intercom systems can help to ensure that orders are correct by allowing employeses to double-check items with customers before they arrive at the pickup counter.
Enhanced customer satisfaction: A smooth and efficient pickup experience can lead to increased customer satisfaction. Intercom systems can help to create a more positive experience by making the process faster and easier for customers.
Specific statistics on the benefits of using a drive thru intercom system:

According to a study by QSR Magazine, drive thru intercom systems can help to reduce wait times by up to 20%.
A study by the National Retail Federation found that 72% of customer DRIVETHRUCITY


How many QSR in USA today?

There are an estimated 203,703 fast food restaurants in the United States as of 2024, according to IBISWorld. This number has been steadily increasing over the past few years, driven by factors such as the growing popularity of convenience food and the increasing use of drive-thru lanes.

The QSR industry is a major part of the American economy, employing over 3.8 million people and generating over $230 billion in revenue in 2023. The industry is also highly competitive, with a number of large chains vying for market share.

One of the most important factors for success in the QSR industry is speed and efficiency. Customers expect to be able to get their food quickly and without hassle. This is where drive-thru intercom systems come in.

Drive-thru intercom systems can help to improve speed and efficiency in a number of ways. They can allow customers to place their orders without having to leave their cars, which can save time. They can also help to ensure that orders are accurate, which can further reduce wait times.

In addition, drive-thru intercom systems can help to improve customer satisfaction. A smooth and efficient drive-thru experience can make a big difference in how customers perceive a restaurant.

Here are some specific statistics on the benefits of using a drive-thru intercom system:

According to a study by QSR Magazine, drive-thru intercom systems can help to reduce wait times by up to 20%.
A study by the National Retail Federation found that 72% of customers are more likely to return to a restaurant if they have a positive drive-thru experience.
Overall, drive-thru intercom systems are a valuable tool for QSRs in the United States. They can help to improve speed, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, all of which are essential for success in the competitive QSR industry. DRIVETHRUCITY


The percentage of QSR business between lobby and drive-thru sales varies depending on the specific restaurant, location, and time of day. However, here's a general breakdown:


    • Dominant channel: On average, drive-thru accounts for 65-75% of QSR sales, especially for fast-food chains like McDonald's, where convenience and speed are key.
    • Popularity factors: Drive-thru's popularity stems from its convenience, allowing customers to order and receive food without leaving their cars. This is especially appealing during busy times or for families with young children.
    • Technology advancements: Advancements like digital ordering kiosks and mobile apps further streamline the drive-thru experience, contributing to its dominance.


    • Shrinking share: Lobby dining has seen a decline in recent years, accounting for 25-35% of QSR sales on average.
    • Reasons for decline: The rise of drive-thru and delivery, along with the pandemic's impact on dine-in preferences, have contributed to the decrease in lobby sales.
    • Focus on experience: Some QSRs are revamping their lobbies to offer a more differentiated experience, with features like table service, comfortable seating, and improved ambiance, aiming to attract customers who seek a dine-in option.

Additional factors:

    • Restaurant type: Fast-casual restaurants tend to have a higher percentage of lobby sales compared to fast-food chains due to their focus on a more dine-in oriented experience.
    • Location: Urban locations with limited parking or heavy traffic might see a higher share of drive-thru sales, while suburban or rural areas might have a more balanced mix.
    • Time of day: Breakfast and lunch hours tend to see higher drive-thru activity, while dinner might have a larger share of lobby customers.

Overall, the drive-thru remains the dominant channel for QSRs, but the lobby still plays a role, and its future might involve a focus on providing a unique and appealing dine-in experience.





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