The evolution of pub technology

The pub of today is totally different from that of just 20 years ago.  Many of us will remember the days when the only food you’d find in your local was a packet of crisps with the odd pickled onion and egg, with a plastic cup for the takings, or a giant cash register on the bar.

It is still the original social network, but just like the advent of social media, the pub has also evolved from a boozer serving beer to a predominantly male audience.  Today’s venues are more diverse businesses, with extensive food and drink menus catering for a range of audiences from children to grandparents.

It’s been 40 years since our first EPoS solution was developed and over the past four decades the system has evolved from being a rare, luxury item to a must-have device.  Walk down any high street or village and there are very few pubs and bars that do not use an EPoS system.

Originally designed for takings and stock control, today’s EPoS is so much more than a glorified cash register.  It’s not just the size that has shrunk, so it no longer takes-over the footprint of a bar, EPoS functionality can be achieved in a smartphone, possessing at least 10 x the digital power and business benefits of its original incarnation.

This means that the days of taking paper order pads are almost extinct.  As the pub food phenomena has taken off, so has table service, closely followed by the demand for handheld ordering using EPoS functionality from a smartphone or tablet, that also feeds directly into the kitchen, where orders are printed and actioned.  The follow-on experience is a positive one for both staff and their customers as the number of complaints about slow food service and incorrect orders are less frequent, which is good news all round.

Today’s pubs also could not survive without card payment – once a cash only enterprise, not only have card payments overtaken cash transactions, but the last two years has seen the move to mobile tech payment, either via the likes of ApplePay or a pub’s own pre-order and pay app.

At Zonal we have seen a 400% increase in enquiries for our Order & Pay app, from both multi-site and single site operators, as pre-order and pay have quickly become mainstream as part of the drinking and eating out experience.

Where we’ll be in another 225 years is impossible to predict, but I very much doubt that for all the benefits that technology can bring to running a pub from both an operational and customer experience, we’ll have robots behind the bar. As the social hub of the community, the human touch will be one vital ingredient that can’t be eradicated; it is after all what gives a pub its personality and point of difference.

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