Ignore the present and risk the future

Operators who don’t move with the times could alienate their customers

Customer paying with their mobile phone
Customers in bars and pubs increasingly expect to be able to order and pay via their mobile phones, said specialist technology firms.

WHEN it comes to what customers look for in the on-trade, there’s been something of a change of the guard in recent times.

Where cash used to be king, these days convenience has taken over as the reigning monarch.

Increasingly, customers expect to see services such as mobile payment as standard in licensed premises – and there’s a chance they could go elsewhere if these amenities aren’t provided.

Technology specialists have warned that efficiency is now seen as a key aspect of good service.

“Having the latest card payment systems is not a luxury but a necessity,” said Clive Consterdine, sales and marketing director at Zonal.

“Reliable and quick payment technology, not only offers a superior customer service and, therefore, high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty but also helps build sales.”

Quoting Zonal’s Go Technology report, Consterdine added that the number of consumers who have used mobile devices to speed up payment in venues has increased from 2.4 million to 3.1 million in the course of the last two years.

It’s said to be particularly important for those in the 25 to 34 year old age group, according to the report.

It stated that 17% of consumers in this age group complain that not being able to pay quickly and move on is a “major frustration”.

“Therefore, having the latest payment tool is very effective in terms of delivering quality service and driving loyalty so customers return and recommend the venue to their friends,” said Consterdine.

This was supported by Scott Grant, divisional manager at Casio, who said that – with bar, pub and restaurant customers becoming increasingly tech-savvy – “the expectation for hospitality venues to offer different service solutions to suit their needs is also increasing”.

“By embracing mobile ordering, staff can meet changing demands through using the latest technologies that improve the customer experience, along with boosting efficiency in your business,” said Grant.

“Mobile ordering solutions not only give staff the opportunity to upsell on sides and drinks, generating more sales, but also means they can better handle busy service peaks and serve greater numbers of customers, more quickly and more efficiently.

“In addition to this, using mobile technology will be a key driver of a positive customer experience which will, in turn, help build a happy and loyal customer base.”

While facets such as booking a table, ordering food and drink and paying were all previously seen as connected but separate parts of an on-trade visit, the latest technology links them all together, allowing customers to book and order through a venue’s in-house smartphone app and then manage their visit through an EPOS system.

And these innovations are not just about improving the experience for the customer.

“Regardless of the payment method, a good EPOS system will allow all orders to be processed quickly and accurately, meaning fewer mistakes on the part of the operator, less waiting time for the customer’s order to be taken, quicker arrival of the customer’s order and fewer ‘wrong orders’ arriving from the bar or kitchen,” said Scott McGillivray of Sims Automatics.

Having an EPOS system recording orders and tracking stock levels can also help management to keep a close eye on what is and is not working on their menu, according to Grant at Casio.

“Having the right EPOS technology can help your business increase efficiency in a multitude of ways,” he said.

“For example, by tracking sales of every item on your menu and identifying peak sales periods, helping shape decisions on menu changes and staff rotas. What’s more, there is a wealth of modules available for EPOS systems, allowing them to be tailored to specific customer needs – be it stock control, reporting or staff efficiency.”

It’s not just ordering and payment systems that can be synchronised; it’s also possible to link an EPOS system to a venue’s CCTV.

McGillivray at Sims Automatics said this “provides both the owner and their employees with proof of how a sale was handled”.

“This ‘add on’ feature to EPOS should be seen as an investment in the business as it can greatly reduce most types of till theft,“ he said.