A swift solution for pubs and bars

This article contains paid-for content created in collaboration with Heineken

HEINEKEN UK has launched payment and loyalty app Swifty as an easy-to-use solution for on-trade venues – something that’s even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Here, the company’s head of data driven commerce, Matt Rix, explains what benefits the new app can provide operators.

Where did the idea for Swifty come from?

We were seeking to address some of the mutual pain points that customers and licensees share in the on-trade. For every customer that is wondering how to find the best pub or bar near their office, there is an outlet trying to figure out how to increase footfall. Equally, where patrons are frustrated that their loyal custom is not rewarded, operators are wondering how they can incentivise return visits. Swifty is a resolution to both sets of hurdles!

Who is it designed for?

Swifty was developed specifically for pubs, bars and restaurants as a solution to help take food and drinks orders, reward loyalty and manage footfall digitally. In light of COVID-19, Swifty can also help all on-trade operators reopen and navigate the new normal post-lockdown by offering a safe, contactless ordering and payment system. This is a digital product that provides a solution for all operators, regardless of their size.

How much does it cost for businesses to download?

With three tiers of packages, operators have greater flexibility and can select a service that suits their business and budget. As an introductory offer Swifty Lite is free to existing HUK and Star Pubs & Bars’ customers for the first four months and then starts from just £24 per month. Swifty Premium and Swifty Plus start from £35 and £165 per month respectively (for existing Heineken UK and Star Pubs & Bars customers), for the first four months and offer additional tools and levels of support.

Do customers have to register before they are able to use Swifty?

Once a consumer has downloaded the Swifty app and completed the one-time account registration and payment setup, they will be able to use the app time and time again in any outlet signed up to Swifty. Users are able to search by nearest venue to their location or by favourites where they have earnt loyalty rewards.

I’m sure most of us can relate to having multiple coffee stamp cards in our purses and wallets that we forget to use. This is a significant benefit of Swifty, as customers do not need multiple apps for different outlets and all loyalty points are stored in one app on their phone. Swifty is not only user-friendly for consumers, operators can generate new business as they have a wider pool of customers to reach via the app who may never have visited their outlet.

What EPOS systems can Swifty currently integrate with?

Swifty is a total retail solution and can fully-integrate with leading EPOS systems such as Zonal, Microtill and ICR Touch, with more systems being added all the time. We wanted to provide a flexible product allowing every operator to experience the benefits of Swifty, so we also offer a non-integrated solution. Swifty was designed to be scalable, so having a non-integrated alternative allows for as many outlets and customers as possible to benefit from its features.

How user-friendly is the app for customers who are less comfortable using technology when they’re out for dinner or having drinks?

Swifty is very user-friendly and simple to use. For a customer who isn’t so comfortable with technology, Swifty is no more complex than using social media. With a clear colour palette, simple menu layout and the option to use outside of the app, we don’t envisage any issues for customers.

How do the promotions and loyalty schemes aspects of the app work?

Connecting and reconnecting with customers will be more important than ever before. But with the need to manage operating costs, there will be an increased emphasis on proving a return on investment with marketing. Both operators and their suppliers can incentivise visits through digital vouchers, points promotions or loyalty stamps. Swifty’s built-in promotional features incentivise new customer visits, encourage loyalty from existing customers, stimulate frequency and gather vitally important customer insights.

The promotional aspect of the platform enables operators to generate data and insight to create targeted campaigns via demographic or buying behaviour. This targeted approach will help drive effectiveness and efficiency of communications, while also allowing for a robust evaluation of what works and what doesn’t for customers.

Is it a straightforward process for operators using Swifty to update pricing lists and menus on the app?

By integrating with the EPOS system, an outlet’s menus, pricing and reward incentives will automatically be updated to Swifty in real time, so there’s no additional action required. Alternatively, there is also a self-serve back-end system that allows operators full control over how their outlet appears on Swifty. What’s more, we have a helpful Swifty team who are on hand to assist with any issues or queries an operator may have.

What should operators do to ensure customers are aware of Swifty and its benefits in their venues?

As part of the special launch partner package, businesses will receive £100 worth of free marketing support including POS items (posters, vinyl stickers, etc.) and social media support, helping operators shout about Swifty in outlet and online.

How does Swifty differ from other payment and loyalty apps on the market?

Firstly, Swifty wasn’t developed in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We have been developing this app for some time, with the long-term goal of providing structural benefits to our customers. In the short-term the app helps operators to reopen safely, however the goal of Swifty has always been to help with digital integration for their business.

Swifty is an ‘agnostic aggregator app’ – which basically means it is not confined to one group of pubs. This is a scalable app that can be used in any outlet in the UK, allowing smaller operators to start playing in the digital space and making them more visible to customers looking for the best place to frequent.

In addition, while Swifty is a technology solution, it also has the benefit of being backed by Heineken’s wealth of experience in the hospitality industry. By combining our expertise as brewers, retailers and suppliers with an industry-leading mobile solution, we’re able to uniquely provide our customers with the means to kick-start their operations once lockdown has been lifted.

Through Swifty, operators can also create bespoke loyalty campaigns for their venue to reward customers and drive repeat visits. Our research has shown customers using payment and loyalty apps spend on average 30% more than those who don’t, so this is a significant opportunity for operators to tap into.

What measures have been taken by Swifty to ensure customers’ sensitive data including payment details are protected?

Swifty has been subject to strict third party testing to ensure the highest level of security and protection of customer data. Throughout the customer journey only the information required to operate the product is collected (first name, last name, date of birth and email address).

Within the ordering process, Swifty does not store payment details as the payment service provider is responsible for this process. If payment details are stored, these are in a card vault of the payment service provider.

Swifty values the customer’s right to be forgotten and has a process in place to delete customer data on request. This is communicated in the platform via the privacy policy and terms and conditions. 

Do you see digital payment methods such as Swifty as the “new normal” for hospitality businesses?

Hospitality is a people orientated industry and we pride ourselves on great levels of customer service. However, as our reliance on data grows, digital payment solutions will become more prevalent.

Swifty is designed to enhance the customer experience by providing alternatives and incentives to engage digitally. It also offers the opportunity to deliver efficiencies in the ordering process.

In a post COVID-19 world, the trend for digital payment methods has been accelerated. By turning every stage of the ordering and payment process into a simple contactless transaction, Swifty enables operators to meet social distancing guidelines whilst crucially demonstrating their commitment to the health and safety of staff and customers.

We know many outlets will find adapting to new social distancing measures extremely challenging. When speaking to customers, 22% claimed that they would be comfortable returning to the pub as soon as restrictions are lifted, with a further 52% happy to go as long as added precautions were in place.  When asked on what additional precautions would add to that feeling of comfort, consumers spoke about social distancing, hand sanitiser and enhanced cleaning protocols first, with technological benefits like contactless payment and order at table apps also mentioned regularly.

Ultimately, we want to see every pub open, trading and thriving. Heineken’s aim first and foremost is to help the on-trade reopen safely, so both customers and staff feel comfortable, safe and reassured in outlet. We need to rebuild consumer confidence to ‘resocialise responsibly’ by ensuring they enjoy a great experience every time, which will ultimately drive loyalty and keep customers coming back long into the future as we transition in to the ‘new normal’.