It’s hard to think of one area of human existence that hasn’t been touched by technology in recent times. From bagging a taxi at the end of a night out to ordering a takeaway, smartphone technology can help us take control of our modern, time-poor lives.
The bar and pub industry is no different. It might not have been at the forefront of tech innovations, but as customers’ expectations continue to focus on apps that help lubricate their social lives, there are now a raft of solutions available to fix potential problems from organising a night out to getting the next round in.
Speed and convenience are the main attractions. Customers want things done as quickly and as seamlessly as possible so they can spend more time with their friends on a night out, rather than finding the right place to go, locating a table or queuing endlessly at the bar.
One handy example of this is the enormous growth in contactless payments in the pub sector. From September last year up to and including the festive period, bars and pubs saw contactless payments increase by a staggering 92 per cent. A factor in this would have been the rise of the maximum spend on contactless payments from £20 to £30 last September.
Other tap-and-go payment options include Apple Pay which launched last year. Android Pay and Samsung Pay are rumoured to be rolling out this year in the UK. All work using a piece of tech called Near-Field Communication (NFC). Industry analysts expect spending via mobile payments to continue this rapid expansion in the next few years.
What does this mean for bars and pubs? If more customers expect to be able to use pay and go technology, it means they are more likely to use cards, and this in turn increases spend – the average card spend in pubs is £25.97 according to latest figures and the speed of the transaction will cut down on queues, leading you to serve more people. This technology feels made for bars and pubs.
There’s An App For That
If you are reserving tables, ordering drinks, finding bars or planning your night out, there is, unsurprisingly an app for everything. Here are a few that are making an impact in bars and pubs.
Customers place their order, and pay at the same time using their card (Visa, MasterCard, Amex) or by using Apple Pay or PayPal. This enables them to order when they want, and means they don’t have to waste their time queuing at the bar to order. The order can either be collected or delivered to the customer’s table.
What Orderella Says:
“Using Orderella saves 90 seconds per order, which is great for bars because they are able to take more orders throughout the night, and serve more people, which in turn means more sales and profits. There is also a statistic that shows 10% of customers would walk straight out of a busy venue if they think they won’t get served.”
It also means that if customers are watching a sporting match they don’t have to leave their seats. They’ll never miss a goal/try/180 again!”
With Boppl’s rich visual menus, customers are able to see the products, images, description and any options available. This helps them discover what drinks and meals a bar and pub has to offer, allowing them to make an informed choice of where to go.
What Boppl say:
“Boppl allows customers to spend more time doing what they want to do, by letting them order when they’re on their way to or while spending time with friends and family at a venue, eliminating the need to queue and miss out. Boppl gives customers real-time updates of their order so they know when it’s been accepted, when it’s being made and when to go up and collect it.”
“Technology in general can help pubs and bars by giving them access to valuable data that can be used to influence business plans and marketing. It can also give an edge in this highly competitive market by providing them with a streamlined revenue stream. As this encompasses both technology that eases service and technology that gives venues a new revenue stream e.g web/mobile ordering.”
Laurie Nair, Key Accounts Manager London.
Technology in general can help pubs and bars by giving them access to valuable data that can be used to influence business plans and marketing”
We live in an age of recommendations. By using the Design My Night app you can research recommendations when planning your night out (for example search by area, type of bar and budget) and take care of booking/reserving tables. Its Collins booking software claims to be the first global booking and enquiry management software specifically designed for the bar/casual dining sector.
What Design My Night say:
“Collins allows venues to do these real-time bookings (seated covers in a bar / restaurants in a pub) but also takes and manages all enquiries (large bookings, private hires, private dining, party bookings, events etc). Collins also allows them to take online payments, making their establishment instantly PCI compliant (a system to combat card fraud), take pre-orders and even manages all their outbound/inbound booking emails.”
We firmly believe that there is plenty of technology out there now to assist the bar/pub industry with booking, enquiries, payments, pre-orders, paying the bill and loyalty.”
Similar apps: Zomato
Ensure your customers – and, more vitally, your potential customers – know that you’re open for business by providing the details for your bar/pub as part of the Google Maps service. There’s even a Google My Business app. By delivering the information – including pictures – you control what is seen online, thus increasing the likelihood of your bar or pub being visited.
Innovative pub tech is developing rapidly. As seen it can help your customers plan their night out, order their drinks and not miss a minute of chatting to friends or watching the latest sporting action on the big screen.
Bars and pubs can also learn a bit more about its customers – what’s the best-selling item? At what time? What are certain customer’s favourite orders and so on? This data can help with staffing levels and drink and food orders. You can see who your most valuable customers are, and get to know more about your locals.
For those under the age of 35 (often characterised as Millennials or Digital Natives) using this kind of tech to pay for goods comes naturally. They are thought to embrace new technology quicker than other generations, but other age groups are catching on too. According to Orderella’s Penny Blake, in 2014 those using mobile payments for instance could be broken down thus: 34 per cent of 18-29 year olds, 31 per cent of 30-44 year olds and 16 per cent of 45-59 year olds. She adds that there has been a significant rise in payments (as evidenced above) across all ages.
So it’s not just city-dwelling youngsters who are using tech on a night out. Much like the credit card usurped the chequebook, smartphone technology will soon become as integral to a night out, as your customers’ favourite tipple.