How Much do Digital Menu Boards Cost?

A digital menu brings your menu to life on vibrant digital displays. Unlike static menus, digital menus are eye-catching and exciting and are the first thing a customer sees when they enter your restaurant. Already, 30% of customers agree that digital menu boards inform their purchasing decisions. So, you must adopt this technology to drive sales and boost traffic.

Typically, the cost is the primary concern among restaurant operators adopting digital menu boards. The good news is that the digital signage market has different solutions for all budgets, ranging from simple setups to enterprise-level systems. Essentially, you have the flexibility to select a hardware and software combination that works for your needs and budget.

In addition, digital signage can boost sales by 29.5%, meaning investing in digital menu boards will pay off. To top it all, you save money on printing costs for static menus, which add up quickly if you change your menu several times a year.

Digital Menu Board Cost

You need several hardware and software components to set up a digital menu board solution. Let’s break down the elements of a digital menu board system below to help you plan for the investment.

1. Cost of Hardware

If you are a DIY devotee, you may be tempted to buy a low-cost TV at the nearby big box store. However, standard TVs can’t handle 24/7 operations like commercial-grade screens.

Furthermore, commercial-grade displays are brighter and make your restaurant menu stand out. LED displays are especially suited to brightly-lit quick service restaurants, casual eateries, and other dining establishments because they show high-contrast images that grab attention.

Prices for affordable screens start at $400 to several thousands of dollars, depending on your digital signage needs. In addition to cost, consider screen size, resolution, brightness, and warranty service when selecting a display.

2. Cost of Digital Signage Software

A content management system lets you manage the content on your digital signs. A cloud-based solution is ideal because you can make remote edits and control access to your digital signage system.

Many digital signage providers charge a subscription fee for their software. These software prices can start as low as $6.99 per month all the way to $40.00 per month. This is mainly dependent on the amount of features, services, and customer support offered.

Alternatively, you can opt for a digital signage provider with a one-time fee for their software. For example, Mvix charges a one-time cost of $299 for a platform with more than 150 content apps, smart playlists, customizable templates, and multi-user access. The package is more cost-effective in the long run because there are no recurring fees, and you also enjoy unlimited storage and unlimited users to promote collaboration.

Regardless of your pricing method, you want a platform that lets you customize your menu display with your logos, fonts, images, and colors. But, don’t put too many elements in your digital menus, as 74% of restaurant customers say an effective menu display is their main priority.

Additionally, look for a scheduling feature to show different food items depending on the times of the day. For example, you can set the lunchtime menu items to appear automatically at noon to appeal to walk-in customers in a hurry. Also, get a demo of the system before you commit to ensure it suits your restaurant’s needs.

3. Cost of Media Players

A digital signage player is a small computer that processes and renders content to digital screens. Ideally, you want a player that renders different kinds of content, including images, animations, web pages, and videos, to keep your displays interesting and upgrade the customer experience.

You can run your digital menu boards with external players or built-in models. External players like Raspberry Pi and Amazon Fire Stick physically connect to digital displays via an HDMI cable.

In contrast, built-in media players are embedded within the monitor and use the web browser in the screen to display menu boards. These players are perfect if you are short on space, such as pop-up restaurants and food trucks.

Depending on your requirements, you can get a media player for as little as $50 or over $1200. Usually, the cost influences the price. For instance, a cheap player may not support a seamless experience and will prevent you from leveraging the full benefits of digital menu boards. On the other hand, commercial-grade displays support long play time without hitches and carry extended warranties.

4. Content Creation Expenses

A professional menu board design is critical because it influences how a customer perceives your brand. Often, restaurants hire graphic designers and freelance content creators to create content for their digital menu boards. However, this option gets expensive quickly, especially if you use an agency.

The most cost-effective way to create content is by using the built-in editor in your digital software. Powerful digital signage software features fully-customizable templates that let you design and brand quality menus.

If you use stock libraries for photos and videos, check if there are licensing fees on your preferred websites. Additionally, ensure there are no restrictions on the content to avoid copyright issues. Luckily, the internet has plenty of affordable and royalty-free videos, pictures, and animations.

Further, look for pre-rendered zones that help you create enticing layouts. The best content management systems also have content apps and third-party integrations to pull data from internal and external databases. For instance, you can show your social media feeds and weather updates alongside your menu items. If you invest in good software, chances are you don’t need other content-creation tools.

While there is software that can keep costs at virtually $0, it’s important to note that professional designs will likely cost you over $100.

5. Cost of Installation

The installation expenses are directly linked to the hardware of your choice. Usually, vendors include the installation costs in the total expenses of deploying the digital menu boards. In this case, the provider handles delivery and mounting and ensures that the boards connect to the network.

If you choose a DIY option, budget for mounts, cables, and enclosures. Mounts ensure your displays are secured on the wall and let you tilt your boards for maximum visibility. Commercial-grade mounts, which start at around $200, are durable and easy to install compared to consumer-grade options. Enclosures are also vital because they protect your screens from external elements and vandalism and conceal media players.

Professional installers are a must-have when dealing with enterprise-grade digital signage systems. Normally, installers charge by the hour, but the setup doesn’t take too long. Get multiple quotes for a large project because labor expenses can increase quickly. These quotes can very greatly depending on the amount of displays as well as their location but expect to spend at least $125.

6. IT Support and Maintenance

Your digital signage system needs maintenance and troubleshooting now and then. Some providers offer 24/7 support teams to solve any issues, which saves on maintenance costs. If you don’t have this option, you may outsource IT support or hire an in-house team.

You should also budget for training to familiarize employees with the digital signage system. Although most software is user-friendly, there is still a learning curve for the uninitiated. Luckily, many providers offer technical support and web resources to simplify the learning process.

Ready to Install a Digital Menu Board?

Digital menu boards are increasingly common in the restaurant industry because they eliminate printing costs for static menus, attract attention, and improve the bottom line. Before you install menu boards, consider the hardware and software costs and talk to your vendor about your digital signage needs. When in doubt, invest in commercial-grade solutions as they work reliably for a long time and carry extended warranties.

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