Payment options: don’t phone it in

As pub customers want greater choice in how they pay, cash is no longer king

Consumers now expect the same payment options at their local pub or bar as they do at high street hospitality chains, say firms

IN an increasingly fast-paced world, convenience is king. And as technology helps to make so much of life more convenient, the way people order and pay in the licensed trade could be set to change for good.

With a raft of payment options – including cash, card, contactless, and mobile payments – now standard across various retail outlets, consumers increasingly expect to be greeted with the same payment options at their local pub, bar or restaurant.

That was the view of payment specialists contacted by SLTN, who reckoned that the days of cash-only locals are limited.

Steve Dancer of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Customers increasingly expect the same ease, quality and flexibility of payment technology at their local pub as they receive at other retailers and in hospitality chains.”

Echoing this view, Clive Consterdine of Edinburgh-based EPOS firm, Zonal, said offering the latest card payment systems “is not a luxury, but a necessity”.

“Reliable and quick payment technology not only offers a superior customer service – and therefore [higher] levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, but also helps build sales,” said Consterdine.

Reliable and quick payment tech offers superior customer service but also builds sales.

Citing research conducted jointly by Zonal and CGA, Consterdine said that in under two years, the number of consumers who use mobile devices to speed up payment has increased from 2.4 million to 3.1 million – adding that this is only set to grow.

Therefore, he reckons offering the latest payment options can be “very effective in terms of driving additional orders from each customer”; 67% of 25 to 34 year olds say they would spend more and buy more drinks if they could order and pay from their smartphones rather than queue at the bar or wait for table service, according to Zonal.

Reinforcing this view, Dancer said that Star Pubs & Bars, which recently negotiated a deal with Microtill to provide its lessees with an integrated EPOS system that includes card payment, sees the advantages such a system offers operators, adding that the right EPOS and payment card solution “can greatly increase a pub’s operating efficiency”.

Dancer explained that new payment technology can make a real difference to licensees, enabling them to provide faster, better service – which he said is vital at busy trading times.

Although there is still a place for cash, it is fast becoming an unusual way to pay for goods.

“The ‘pay at table’ solution is ideal for pubs with significant food trade and those offering table service; staff can print and split bills at the table, take payment and close the table without going back to the till,” said Dancer.    

“The customer experience is greatly improved and tables can be turned at four times the speed.”

He added that, for licensees with busy bar areas, the ‘pay at counter’ option “avoids the traditional delays caused by bar staff waiting to use the till”.

“Each member of staff has their own card machine, enabling multiple transactions to be processed simultaneously and bar queues to be cut,” he said.

There are other advantages, too. Consterdine of Zonal said: “There are benefits for businesses such as pubs and restaurants to not having cash on the premises and we predict that more businesses will move to card and electronic payment only in the future,” he said.

Consterdine added: “The old adage ‘cash is king’ will soon be confined to history.

“Although there is still a place for cash, it is fast becoming an unusual way to pay for goods and we are far more likely to swipe or tap to make a payment.”