That was the message from a broad range of software and equipment firms contacted by SLTN last week, who said technology can play a key role in enhancing everything from the service and efficiency in an outlet to the customer experience and loyalty.
Contactless payment is one of the latest innovations – and it’s expected to have a growing impact on licensed trade businesses going forward.
The number of people using the technology, which enables consumers to pay for transactions up to the value of £20 by waving their card or fob over a reader at the till point, is up by 22% quarter on quarter, according to Visa Europe, which said there are now 232,000 terminals installed across the UK. The number of contactless payment transactions made in the UK in March of this year topped 5.3 million, it said, with a value of £3.9m.
Clive Consterdine, director of sales and marketing at EPoS firm Zonal, said contactless payment technology offers flexibility for consumers and improved efficiency for operators.
“The Zonal software solution is also integrated with an iPhone ordering system app, enabling consumers to order food and drinks and then make payment for these services using the app,” he said. “It means consumers are no longer restricted to making payments at their table or the bar.
“Another important feature is that the terminals are fully integrated with the till system, removing the need for staff to re-key transactions, which also helps to save time and reduces errors in terms of billing.”
Ashley Sheppard, commercial director at Call Systems Technology, also highlighted the role new software and equipment can play in the smooth operation of an outlet.
“A restaurant automation system such as ConnectSmart automatically organises workloads and ensures everyone knows everything they need to know to work efficiently,” said Sheppard.
“It means people can do more work with less effort, which saves money.
Using technology is a great way to lift the service of a bar without necessarily increasing staff.
“It also speeds up service and improves food quality. And it optimises table turnover, which adds directly to the bottom line.”
Improved service and profitability were also highlighted as key benefits of technology by Dan Rogers, chief operating officer and founder of QikServe – a new consumer ordering app (see story left).
According to Rogers, mobile technology is “revolutionising” the way consumers interact with retailers.
“It is a direct line to the consumer and a way to gather invaluable information,” he said.
“Using technology is also a great way to lift the service level of a bar without necessarily increasing staff.
“The trade needs to reinvigorate its innovative side and take a hard look at mobile; it is not only for the big chains either. There is a huge opportunity to engage and support the customer with new experiences through their mobile device and this need not cost the earth.”
Technology’s role in enhancing the interaction between operators and their customers was also flagged up by Gerald Capaldi of Opinurate, whose survey software enables businesses to collect information from customers in real time.
“By helping businesses collect accurate customer information and respond to honest, unbiased feedback about their staff, products and services in real time on a unit by unit basis, our technology helps them build on their strengths and identify key areas for improvement, thereby increasing satisfaction, loyalty, repeat business, sales and profit,” he said.
And it’s not just in improving an outlet’s customer service and efficiency that technology is playing a key role.
The entertainment options available to bar and club operators have also developed hugely thanks to advancements in technology.
Carl Ranson, sales manager for the Lounge Lizzard entertainment system, which includes everything from quizzes and bingo to background music and karaoke, said flexibility is key when it comes to entertainment.
“The trade is so unpredictable these days so you never really know when your busy spells will be,” he said.
“Publicans are always looking at ways to reduce outgoings without removing the quality and that’s where we fall into place. Our system allows spontaneity and flexibility all in one.”
James Luck of Soundnet said it’s key operators embrace technology as consumer expectations continue to rise. “The use of high tech products in the home and as part of our daily lives means that we have developed a familiarity with certain features and interfaces without even realising it,” he said.
“This provides an expectation that these types of features will be possible on pub equipment.”
His views were echoed by Franceska Brown at karaoke supplier Lucky Voice, who said technology plays a “massive” role in pub entertainment.
“From an operational point of view, using the latest technology – be it an EPoS system, a karaoke solution or a tablet – can make your business more efficient and more profitable,” she said.
Steve Brand, director at IT firm G5 Technologies, said software and equipment can give outlets an “extra edge” over competitors.
“Technology, when implemented correctly, can always help streamline processes and drive efficiencies by reducing or removing the human error factor,” he said.
Image – Technology can play an important role in helping outlets run smoothly.