FROM smartphones to iPads, we live in an increasingly connected world.
And it’s not just consumers that are benefitting from the latest technology.
Pub and bar operators are increasingly using cutting-edge electronic point of sale (EPOS)systems to control all manner of things in the day-to-day running of their business, say suppliers, from remotely monitoring sales activity, to inventory management, to live booking availability.
EPOS suppliers told SLTN that the right system can pay dividends over the festive season, too.
Owen Chen, president of Posiflex Technology, said that the widespread adoption of mobile technology by customers has led to a “new breed of customer” who is “constantly connected and increasingly demands not only convenience but also an engaging customer experience at the point of sale”.
To meet these changing demands, Chen reckons licensees should not only embrace electronic point of sale, but consider embracing mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions, which he said can facilitate the tasks of a fixed device but also provide staff with flexibility and improve customer satisfaction.
“Equipping staff with hand-held POS devices means they can move around taking orders from table to table without trips to the kitchen,” said Chen.
Robin Knox, co-founder of Intelligent Point of Sale, took a similar stance to Chen.
Knox said another big advantage of mobile POS is the facilitation of quick, flexible card payments, claiming that 70% of customers now prefer to pay by card, and 75% consider contactless to be easier than the traditional chip and pin.
He warned that operators who don’t offer the option of easy card payments could be missing out on a fair chunk of trade, stating that 20% of customers will go elsewhere if they can’t pay by card.
“These stats show how essential a modern, mobile POS system is to the hospitality sector,” said Knox.
And the Intelligent Point of Sale co-founder reckons the right system can pay dividends during the busy festive trading period.
“With the festive season a hectic period for any establishment, customers will be hoping for quick and easy transactions when they’re out for a meal or a drink,” said Knox. “Competition is tough at Christmas so it’s essential your POS system provides a quick, painless transaction to ensure regular traffic to your business.”
Another benefit EPOS systems can bring to operators, especially at Christmas, is a streamlined and intuitive online booking system, according to Zonal’s sales and marketing director, Clive Consterdine.
“In order to maximise the opportunity that Christmas presents, operators need to have a highly responsive website, featuring live availability, an easy to use online booking system on any device, together with an engaging offer, loyalty and feedback programme, all of which are channelled into a central EPOS system,” said Consterdine.
This view was echoed by Olivia Fitzgerald, managing director of online bookings firm LiveRes.
Fitzgerald said most bookings are no longer made between the standard hours of 9am and 5pm, claiming the most popular booking times are now between 5.30pm and 6pm and 8pm until 8.30pm.
This, she said, makes online reservations a priority for operators.
And with Christmas reservations in mind, Fitzgerald stated that a booking system “needs to be easy to use on any device, and an engaging Christmas menu that really resonates with diners is a must”.
Another benefit of EPOS systems is the opportunities they can present regarding customer loyalty, according to Consterdine at Zonal.
He said that customer demographics, booking history and purchasing preferences all form “rich customer data” which then allows operators to tailor their offers to encourage trade post-Christmas.
“Creating experiences through personalised promotions that actually reward customers for their loyalty, rather than blanket discounted offers, is the way forward,” said Consterdine.
Mike McCabe of Markadis agreed that collecting customer data can help operators tailor an experience for guests, and he suggested data capture should be one of the key considerations for operators when upgrading their EPOS system.
“Gather as much data as you can,” said McCabe.
“Email addresses, phone numbers, dates of births; this can be used for communicating and rewarding.”
For those thinking of upgrading their EPOS system, suppliers emphasised that operators must consider the growth of their business.
Lesley Corr, European sales director of Posera, said: “Operators should ensure that they invest in an EPOS solution that will ‘grow’ with them as their requirements increase or change.
“Low-end or low-cost solutions do not offer this flexibility; they are very restricted in terms of functionality.”
Knox, of Intelligent Point of Sale, took a similar stance to Corr.
“Operators should be upgrading POS systems based on growing an efficient, easy to manage business,” said Knox.
He added that his biggest piece of advice to operators is “don’t settle for mediocrity”.
“Speak to your provider about what you think your system could be doing better and what features you’d like to see,” said Knox.
“A good POS system is one which is built with customers’ needs for easy and remote business management at its heart.”