Digital Menu Board, Digital Signage, Menu Design, Products, Tips

Photo Editing Apps for Digital Signage & Social Media Images

At Menuat, we get a lot of questions from business owners about creating images to use on their digital signage or social media pages. Many problems seem to come from resizing images to fit the appropriate space. Most of the time these edits are not too difficult or involved if you know how to use a few simple tools. Here are a couple apps to help you create striking photos for your digital signage or social media pages.

Pixlr Image Resizing

Pixlr is a photo editing application that can be used for photo editing (resizing, watermarking, adding text, effects, stickers etc.). Here is a basic tutorial for resizing images through Pixlr.

First, download the Pixlr app on your computer (there is a phone app also but resizing is not available). Then go to the ‘File’ dropdown menu on the top left of your screen and open the image you would like to resize.

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Next, go to the ‘Fast’ drop down menu and select ‘resize’.

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From this screen, edit the shorter side of the to your desired dimension while keeping the aspect ratio locked. Don’t worry about the opposing dimension becoming larger than the your desired size. We will fix that in the next step. Click Apply.

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Next go to the ‘fast’ tab again and select crop. When the dimensions appear, change the opposing dimension to your desired height or width. A grid will appear previewing the image at the specified dimensions. Use the dot in the center of the grid to move the grid to capture the area of the image you would like to display and click apply.

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Then save the image with an appropriate filename and adjust quality to ‘medium’ for a faster load time.

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There are a lot of photo editing apps available on the App and Chrome Stores. Most of them basically do the same things. Some alternative user friendly apps for photo editing include RePix, PhotoScapeX, and FX Photo Studio Pro.

Opinion, Products, Technology

Product Review: Google Wallet

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After reading about CurrentC’s recent security breach where a list of e-mail addresses was compromised, I decided to do some research about these new digital wallets. Luckily for CurrentC, the only information taken were e-mail addresses for a few beta testers and test accounts. On the scale of security breaches, this one was maybe a ‘blue’ on the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory System Color Chart. However, consumers are always slow regain trust for companies after getting hacked.

There are a few of these Digital Wallets on the market: Passbook, Google Wallet, and LifeLock Wallet. Since I haven’t upgraded to the iPhone 6 yet, my current iPhone (5s) does not support NFC (Near Field Communication) payments. NFC Payments use a small loop antenna that creates a small magnetic field that can be detected by another loop antenna’s magnetic field, if it is in close enough range (less than an inch). This feature is currently only available on certain Android phones and the iPhone 6.

One thing all of these digital wallets have in common is that they all use various levels of encryption to protect your sensitive information. A random sequence of random numbers are assigned to your credit, debit card, bank account number, and name.

One feature that set Google Wallet apart in my book was the option to get the Google Wallet Card. Because my iPhone 5s does not support ‘tap & pay’ (NFC Payments), I decided to download Google Wallet and see what it could do. I set it up using my bank issued debit card. When adding a new card, the camera screen comes up and you just have to align the rectangle with the edges of your card. Then it automatically pulls the information from your card accept for the billing address and security code.

The Google Wallet Card is basically a debit card that is not directly tied to your bank account (unless you choose that option). It allows you to spend directly from your Google Wallet account balance. I transferred some money from my debit card to use a trial. That way you can not spend more than is in your Google Wallet Account. Google also has options to automatically refill your account balance when it dips below to a certain point. This could be used for budgeting or even as a child’s first debit card.

Another great feature of Google Wallet is the ease of sending money between users. Anyone with a Google account can register for a Google Wallet account for free. To send money, you can just simply type in their Gmail address or choose from the contacts in your phone that have a Gmail email address associated with it. It makes it easier to pay friends back if you’re unable to separate checks at a restaurant or bar. There are no fees to send money between users.

Overall, Google Wallet is extremely user friendly. Since this test a few weeks ago, I still find myself using my Google Wallet Card instead of my bank issued debit card for everyday purchases at the local coffee shop or even at parking meters.

Digital Signage, Products, Restaurants, Technology

Using Technology to Create a Personal Experience

Many independent restaurant owners are weary to adopt new technology for many reasons: cost, perceived difficulty of use, loss of connection with customers etc. However, in recent years, restaurant tech companies have responded to these pain points from restaurant owners and adapted accordingly. Now there is a wide array of products available to help improve customer engagement and create a personal experience for each individual customer.

Digital Signage- Menu Personalization & Social Media Integration

Digital Signage in restaurants has really taken off in the last year. Most major franchises are either testing or have started to roll out digital signage in locations across the country. Smaller regional franchises and independent restaurants are taking digital signage an extra step by integrating with social media.

First, you need to determine which social media accounts you want to connect with. Instagram is typically the most effective given its visual nature. You can either filter posts that appear on a portion of your signage by having your customers tag you in their post or posts can filter by a business-specific hashtag. Customers love seeing their photos being displayed in-store. Its an easy and fun way to interact with your customers that will keep the coming back.

Location Beaconing Rewards Programs

Perka, a digital loyalty card software company was acquired by First Data and then merged with Clover Station POS system. Perka allows operators to create their own unique loyalty program that uses location beacons for automatic check-in. Location beacons use a low energy bluetooth signal to communicate with mobile devices in a specific radius. When a customer is automatically checked in on their mobile device, their loyalty information appears on the tablet so you can greet your customer by name. Order history is also displayed to create an even more personal experience- just short of being creepy.

Customer Relationship Manager

DineTime Host is a guest management solution that does everything from seating, queue, and customer profile management. When a customer reserves a table online or in-store their information is automatically added to the guestbook for future visits. From the guestbook, you can add notes, important dates (anniversary, birthday etc.) allergy information, feedback, or any other information that is relevant to their visit. For example, your restaurant just got a reservation for Bob Jones and last time he came in his wife, Sarah, did not enjoy her ahi tuna. The notes in their guestbook entry lets the staff know that the chef needs to visit their table to make sure everything is satisfactory.

Products, Restaurants, Technology

Atlanta Foodservice Expo- Tech Recap

Trade shows are the place for companies to showcase their products to a large number of qualified buyers in their industry. One of the main things buyers come looking for is technology because it is always changing and if used properly, makes your life easier. The buyers at The Atlanta Foodservice Expo were no different. Here is a recap of a couple handy tech products that were on display at the show.

The Clover Station

There are always dozens of POS systems present at these shows which can be extremely hard to differentiate. However, there was one that caught our eye. At first glance, Clover Station by First Data looked like every other POS (pun intended), but there was something that made us take a closer look. The Clover Station does everything your standard POS does with some a few bells and whistles that set it apart from the sea of competitors.

The Clover Station by First Data

The Clover Station by First Data

Not only does the Clover Station integrate with all of your standard bookkeeping, CRM, and Inventory management software (fairly standard features)- but it also manages your loyalty program without having those annoying little punch cards that everyone just loses anyway.

Perka, a digital loyalty card software company was acquired by First Data and then merged with Clover. Perka allows operators to create their own unique loyalty program that uses location beacons for automatic check-in. When a customer is automatically checked in, their loyalty information appears on the tablet so you can greet your customer by name. Order history is also displayed to create an even more personal experience- just short of being creepy.

The Clover Station operated on open source software that allows for third party developers to create new apps that can be run on Clover’s hardware. There seems to be an app for pretty much anything you would need to do. For example, Happy Hour, is an app that allows you to discount certain items or categories for specific hours on certain days without having to manually make the change daily.

 

BitPay

Bitpay

If you already use a tablet POS system, you can now accept bitcoins. BitPay is a merchant processor that is allowing anyone to accept bitcoins. Their software integrates with all web-based POS systems with plug-ins available in most programming languages. BitPay allows customers to pay for everyday purchases by scanning their bitcoin bar code.

One feature worth mentioning, is that there are no transaction fees for using BitPay. All transactions are deposited directly into your bank account or bitcoin wallet at the end of every business day. Unlike most merchant processors, BitPay does not charge you a percentage on transactions, leaving you with more money!

 

iBistro

iBistro is a cloud-based back-of-the-house software solution to help restaurant managers regulate their supply chain. With iBistro, managers can shop, place orders, pay invoices, and monitor deliveries from multiple suppliers from one place. Then, iBistro takes it a step further by showing the USDA average market prices of the ingredients you need. This allows you to shop around from multiple vendors to find the best deal. It was designed for smaller independent restaurants who use a lot of fresh ingredients from local vendors and farmers.

iBistro

iBistro

An interesting application of this software would be to take the farm-to-table trend to the next level by using iBistro’s social integration to let your customers know when a delivery is on the way and where it came from. Before your customer even enters the restaurant, they know what you have and where it came from. No leaving the the table to figure out if Colin the chicken had a happy life (Portlandia, Anyone?).


For a full list of exhibiting companies, visit The Atlanta Foodservice Expo’s website at http://www.atlantafoodserviceexpo.com/