In the latest in his series of articles on how EPoS is both enabling and supporting an increasingly customer-driven hospitality industry, TISSL’s Stuart Coetzee puts the licensed sector in the spotlight. Everything points to the value of making EPoS – both fixed and mobile – an essential tool in every pub and bar.
The industry is changing. Whilst pubs now face huge competition from coffee shops, mid-market restaurants and the off-trade, this changing market represents great opportunity. The old ‘boozer’ is slowing disappearing and is being replaced by inviting family environments offering quality food and good service. These new-look leisure destinations are doing well by tailoring their offering to their community and stressing their individuality.
EPoS is now a must-have
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the licensed trade. It’s rare now to find a pub without traditional EPoS and pubs are waking up to the fact that a good EPoS system gives flexibility to do more than sell drinks across a counter; it equips them to offer table food service and entertainment events.
However, many are now moving beyond that to take advantage of one of the most important innovations to be seen in recent years—the advent of tablets and smartphones. Handhelds, tablets and smartphones can all be used for ordering and payment, with sales transactions seamlessly integrated with those of the business’s mainstream EPoS.
Technology push, customer pull
It’s hard to decide if we are witnessing technology push or customer pull, but what is clear is that change is taking place fast. EPoS in pubs has commonly been located behind the bar but today’s customers increasingly require table-side service. They now expect not to have to queue for a pint, but to order and/or pay for it straightaway, either via their own device or from a waiter with a handheld, in their seat.
From the pub’s perspective, mobile EPoS solutions on handhelds, smartphones and iPads are great tools for slick service, faster table-turn and upselling. Drinks and dessert sales lifted by 20% when we recently trialled customers ordering and paying by smartphone. What’s clear too from taking the point of service to the table is that customers feel better served. And whilst this can be a year-round app for increasing sales, it’s a sure-fire winner for summer pub gardens.
Managing promotions & boosting loyalty
A huge bonus is that these new mobile apps capture customer data, which can be fed back into CRM and used to drive promotions and loyalty programmes—including issuing smartphone-redeemable vouchers.
Clever pub operators are certainly investing more in systems that help them get the most out of these extra business opportunities. Many now rely on digital signage, for example, to catch the customer’s attention. Again, our trials here show great results; clients can expect to uplift sales of specific items by10–15% by advertising them on digital screens.
Flexible EPoS for multifaceted businesses
Pub companies, and independents alike, need to make sure their EPoS solution is flexible enough to cope with a multitude of different operational types, whether a wet-led bar, a gastropub, Michelin-starred dining restaurant or a mixed operation such as a theatre with a restaurant. We’ve seen this case-by-case approach equip pub clients to maximise income at casual dining experiences through handheld devices, provide seasonal tasting menu experiences with rotating matching wines and a multi-style, all-day hotel service, all within the same estate.
Business visibility is critical
Today’s EPoS solutions encompass a huge range of functionality, from front-end operations to back-office stock management, and it’s essential to have this scope and scale. Business intelligence is particularly critical, with a broad range of reports needed to allow management to drill down into individual pub performance or report group-wide. Reports have their role to play in fraud detection too; a good way of managing cash and stock shrinkage on site. And it all adds up to a boost in efficiency and profits.
What’s clear is that no licensed business with an eye to the future can afford to be without a contemporary EPoS solution, both in its own right and as the hub for other technologies and mobile devices. I’d argue it’s become as fundamental to the success of a pub or a bar as pulling a pint or opening a bottle of wine.