Innovations that are here to stay

The pandemic has accelerated existing trends towards technology in hospitality

Innovations such as online ordering and payment have become more widely adopted.

THE past two years have reinforced the importance of technology within the licensed trade, as businesses looked to introduce efficiencies as well as cut down on the contact between staff and customers.

And while bar, pub and restaurant owners across Scotland will be hoping to have seen the back of government-mandated measures such as forced table service or physical distancing, the pandemic may only have helped to accelerate trends that were already established in society at large.

Technology companies reckon that now consumers are familiar with – for example – ordering and paying for food and drink through their phones, they are likely to expect those options regardless of what is required by governments.

“These technologies now just seem to be the norm,” said Faisal Sattar, operations director at MHouse Business Solutions, the firm behind One Epos.

“Consumers expect a business to be able to offer these services and for them to be quick and easy.

“It is important for business to be on board with this technology or those consumers will end up spending money with competitors who are.”

Henry Seddon, managing director of Access Hospitality, agreed.

“Research conducted by CGA for Access Hospitality last year reported that 54% of UK consumers are pre-booking for food more frequently since venues reopened after lockdown and that 52% plan to continue to pay using technology even after all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted,” he said.

The adoption of technology such as EPOS systems and apps hasn’t just been about making things easier for customers. Suppliers said there were plenty of benefits to businesses.

On the EPOS side, this includes the ability to instantly access detailed information on stock and sales.

“Business insight is one of the most important tools technology can provide, giving instant access to real-time sales data from which operators can leverage information to drive efficiency and cost savings, and develop the most profitable product and promotional mix,” said Seddon.

“This might include making changes to menu and kitchen management processes, staffing deployment or marketing activity.”

The ability to analyse detailed information on the business was also cited by Paul Steven at ACR EPOS Systems.

“We find that our customers have been looking for additional back office reporting as well as cloud-based reporting systems to give them an extra level of analysis so they can quickly tailor promotions and special offers to focus on driving incremental sales,” said Steven.

“Quite often, promotions are not analysed and our customers are looking for quick management insights to help them make better business decisions.”

And in addition to making life easier for customers, tech such as apps can help increase an outlet’s takings, according to Chris Bryce, senior sales executive at PayFacto UK.

“Online ordering and pay-at-the-table will increase table turnover as interaction with waiting staff is reduced, thus increasing profitability,” said Bryce.

“The ability to receive and pay your bill through an app eliminates the time waiting for the server to hand you the bill, take payment and close the table.”

And Lois Taylor, sales and marketing executive at Bobby’s Foods, owner of the Pubby’s app, said hospitality businesses were increasingly using the company’s app to place orders.

“We understand that running an on-trade business is hard work and time consuming, so the convenience of the Pubby’s app makes ordering a breeze,” said Taylor.