In March, I had the unique opportunity to visit Samsung Worldwide headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. An interesting note is that the headquarters are in the Gangnam neighborhood of Seoul. So, along with being able to visit the headquarters, I also was able to do the horse dance in Gangnam. For those tech geeks out there like me, I need to tell a little bit about getting into Samsung. We were required to sign non-disclosure forms for anything we saw (even though we were not going to see anything secret), we had to give up our phones when we were in the headquarters along with any devices (such as USB sticks) that could be used to transfer information. Finally, we were required to wear small pins that said visitor on them. These pins carried RFID tags that allowed us to enter through the security turnstiles. Our host also indicated that they allowed security to know where we were in the building. I was impressed with the tech before I even saw any!
For most of the readers of this column the most relevant part of this experience was the visit to the D’light experience center. This is where Samsung exhibits all of their new and upcoming technologies. It is an interesting opportunity to see and experience all the things you have heard are on their way, but have not seen yet (like a internet connected, remote vacuum cleaner).
At the D’light center there were several examples of the uses of digital signage. One of the most interesting for me was the digital signage for fast food style restaurants. I have included some pictures to help put into context what I am writing. The demo had a traditional menu based digital signage behind the counter. This is something that we experience all the time at fast food restaurants like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s, even here in the US. However, they were also demonstrating order terminals, unlike ones that I have seen in the U.S. These were large 17-20” touch displays. You could “build” your own sandwich on the display, and order directly from it. Along with seeing what your food would like, you were also given all the nutrition information for the sandwich. Finally, you could pay for the order right there at the terminal with your Droid using Samsung Pay. Hmm… wonder if they also offer Apple Pay?
Whenever I see technology like this I tend to sit back and think about how this offers value for the customer and the retailer. For the retailer, the value is very clear. Invest in the technology, and if it works properly you can eliminate hourly pay for the regular cashiers who are taking orders. While the technology is very cool and I want to play with it, the real question is what about all the other customers? What does this technology provide that adds value for the customer? I think there are a couple of answers to this question and the retailer can add value to the customer beyond the technology. One solution for this would be for the retailer to take a percentage off the final bill if the customers choose to use the self order system. We know the retailer is saving a lot of money, so why not pass some of this on to the customer? Another solution is to drive the concept to the customer that they are likely to have a more accurate order if they process it themselves. No longer would you have to deal with a kid who had onions on his hamburg when you thought you ordered none. Rather, you could only blame that one on yourself. The second major value add would be the ability to see nutritional information. Being able to make food decisions (such as what dressing you want on your sandwich) based on the calories and fat, is something many customers may be very interested in.
Restaurants (both fast food and sit-down) continue to be an ideal location for digital signage, provided we are adding value for the customer. However, there were several other examples of digital signage in the D’light center that I will be able to write about in the next column. In the meantime, what do you think of the digital signage opportunities for restaurants? Do the technologies I wrote about add value for you? Would you choose to use a self order, or would you still go to a register operated by a person?