Firms encourage on-trade to unlock the potential of digital technology
FROM capturing customer data to reducing queue sizes, new technologies can offer a range of benefits to customer-facing businesses.
However, when it comes to adopting new technology, operators in the licensed trade are lagging behind their counterparts in sectors such as retail, firms have told SLTN.
“In our experience we have found that pubs are less willing to embrace CEM (customer experience management) technology, which is a stark contrast to our experience with the retail industry,” said David Capaldi, founder and executive director of CEM software specialist Opinurate.
“This is surprising, as in most cases in the retail industry, there is less dwell time – the customer’s experience is a fairly short one.
“In the pub industry the customer is not just buying a drink they are actually investing in an experience and so to enhance this for them, and by doing so differentiate from competitors, is critical.”
For those operators keen to keep on top of technology, the relationship between operator and supplier is “incredibly important” said Capaldi.
“The relationship and value supplied from a credible technology supplier should constantly evolve,” he said.
“By maintaining a close relationship with your technology supplier, you can collaborate on these advancements and make sure you are always getting the most out of the technology.”
Keeping abreast of the latest technological advances was deemed “essential” by Steve Lakin of Innserve, who said publicans should be “at the very least, in a position to make an informed decision about advances in technologies”.
“Technology is continually evolving so we are constantly reviewing our products to ensure they remain at the forefront, providing publicans with the highest energy savings possible, and guaranteeing cellar management standards are maintained,” said Lakin.
And as technology advances, operators should not be hesitant to embrace new digital products, said Dennis Collet of customer ordering app firm Orderella.
“People can be resistant to change, but operators need to realise that digital can help to truly improve their business,” said Collet.
“It’s here to stay, and if they wish to continue to compete in the marketplace they need to embrace it and the opportunities it offers.
“It’s all about offering the consumer a greater level of convenience and the choice to order in the way that suits them.”
One way operators can make life easier for customers is to install free wi-fi, a move Collet said was not only important to consumers, but useful in facilitating other pub technology.
“If you want to make use of the different apps available for customers to order food and drink at your sites, and want customers to interact with you on social media, make sure you offer free wi-fi,” he said.
“It can also be difficult to operate apps on your premises without wi-fi access, which could mean that you miss out on the benefits they can offer.”
Steve Brand, director of IT and cloud computing firm G5 Technologies, agreed that wi-fi has become increasingly important for operators, and stressed its importance as a marketing tool.
“Some of the hardware available now for the provision of wi-fi also enables you to attract and retain customers through social media,” he said.
“When a customer first logs on they will be automatically promoted to like or follow your business.”