Blog

25 August

Industry Trends

Technology, The Customer and You

Clive Consterdine, Zonal’s sales and marketing director looks at the power of data and the value of technology.

We live in a 24/7 society where technology is changing all the time.  Keeping abreast of the trends, what to invest in and crucially what to ignore as a passing fad is a skill we all wish to have.

What we do know for certain is that hospitality operators are having to adapt and invest in technology to meet the demands of their customers, from providing online booking and mobile payment to pre-order.

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 [source: GO Technology report by Zonal Retail Data Systems and CGA Peach].

Of the 5,000 GB adults polled, 25 per cent who do not currently use mobile devices to speed up payments would consider doing so in the future, with the biggest barrier being a lack of education (39 per cent didn’t know it could be done).  Lack of trust in using mobile payment is also falling as it becomes more mainstream, with only 20% of consumers citing it as a concern in February 2016, compared to 31% in July 2014.

There is no doubt then about the influence mobile has had on consumer behaviour, transforming the way we socialise, shop, play, listen to music and watch programmes.  But it’s the split between apps v web usage that is most striking with 81% of UK time spent on apps compared to just 19% using a web browser [source: eMarketer]. Surprising again is the high level of regularity amongst consumers over app usage, with the average person using just five apps on a regular basis. So whilst the popularity of apps may vary from person to person, with some consumers preferring social media and gaming, whilst others spend more time on instant messenger, it’s clear that the battle for featuring on a smartphone screen is well and truly underway.

So how do we fully maximise the consumer’s insatiable appetite for apps? One things for sure, it’s not just about creating apps for apps sake. It’s about really understanding your customers, what makes them tick, what they do, when and how frequently.

Whether a multiple or single site operator, the fact is that through integrated technology we can learn more about our customers, their behaviour and purchasing preferences than ever before.

Investing in technology such as EPoS is one thing, but understanding the power of the data and using it effectively to build your business is something that operators still need to grapple with.  Supermarkets have been doing this successfully for a number of years, but many pubs, bars and restaurants now have the ability to get on board and start targeting their promotions to meet their individual customers’ desires, rather than running costly blanket offers.

Knowledge is power, but only if you take the time to understand it and focus your campaigns accordingly. We see many operators who have the tools but as of yet, not the expertise to use this knowledge to its fullest effect.

Loyalty for example is not about discounting, but rewarding people for their custom with a targeted offer relevant to their demographic and purchasing history.  If you know your customer visits your venue with their family, then family offers are going to be much more meaningful than a promotion directed at a young couple.

With apps being so influential it goes without saying that using mobile technology to engage with and optimise the customer experience is becoming more common place.  Be At One already do this very well, but the broader industry is quickly playing catch up with the growth of pre-order and ‘in App’ bar tabs to settle and split payment.

Indeed, for many of us navigating a crowded bar is not an experience to be relished and we’d much rather take time over our drinks to avoid the next round.  This will soon be a thing of the past though as bar tab apps take-off, enabling customers to set up their own tab, order their own drinks and pay for them remotely.  Suddenly, getting the drinks in is no longer a problem which can only be good news for the bottom line.

And what if you could get the drinks in for your customer, before they even arrive? Well, it might sound like science fiction but the technology is already available.  If a customer is signed up to your app, you can tell through ‘beacons’ their estimated time of arrival, whether or not they’re in a pub down the road or in fact have just entered your venue.

Being able to engage in a fun, light hearted way with your customers because you know them, probably better than they do, and personalising their experience is the future. But the future is here now and as with anything, those who embrace it will be the ones to prosper. Don’t give your competitors a head start, make sure you invest in developing a proactive and evolving digital strategy today to help ensure your success for tomorrow.

 

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