Order & pay: the rise of tech in our pubs

2017 was a revolutionary year for pubs in the UK. Tech was already being used but behind the scenes. POS and others where being used to assist in the customer experience but hidden from view, to many, a perfect compromise. This was all to change…

Wetherspoon launch their Order & Pay App and the traditionalists lead the worried charge. Headlines from national newspaper herald the end of the pub industry as we know it. ‘The robots are taking over’ – little do they know that this same tech will one-day help save the pubs! 

What do these apps actually do?

Essentially it replicates normal service but through an app. You sign up, putting in your card details, age, address and of course email only then to be directed to both the drinks and food menu. Your order, quoting your table number, sit back and wait for your ordered items to arrive. 


Well, the main concern and it is indeed one worthy of thought is the replacing of human interaction at the table. Will this app replace jobs in the future? This seems to be the biggest worry of tech as we moved into an automated world – software doesn’t have families to feed!

To many businesses in hospitality the human interaction is essential. Not only is it the personal touch that customer love, enjoy and tip for but it also creates the atmosphere, the ambiance. For example, you have just arrived in London, you check-in to the Ritz and decide to have a glass of something in the bar. You are told by the barman that you should download the app to see the menu and order through there. Not only disappointing as you were hoping to show off your new knowledge on the wines of Rías Baixas but also the lack of rapport with, let’s not forget, a professional, who no doubt has trained for many years to get to the position of serving you. Tech, quite clearly, isn’t for everyone! 


 No more queuing. Now, this may be a disadvantage for Brits as we have a genuine love the queuing – it is part of our DNA. However, for the purpose of this article queuing is bad. Picture a family with young children, rather than que at the bar with blood sugar levels becoming dangerous and tempers about to ignite, rather sit at your table and let the tech take the stress. 

Promotions. The opportunity for extra promotions on weekly specials or drinks offers only become easier with an app in your arsenal. Rather than a barely legible blackboard that may as well be in French – a beautiful piece on digital marketing than only Apple would be proud off – I know which one I would choose…

COVID. I couldn’t write an article on apps in pubs without mentioning COVID. Tech like this has literally saved thousands of pubs. If it wasn’t for the option of removing human contact during these strange times, businesses would have gone under without the chance to say goodbye to their locals. Not only is it a safer option but I could have saved the local that you have frequented for the past 20 years. Don’t be so hasty to demote tech! 

In conclusion there will always be tech free zones in hospitality. For some businesses it would be a hindrance, as previously mentioned, service at the Ritz. But without Tech, the Ritz wouldn’t be able to cater for all those personal touches, the chocolates on the pillow, the Albariño in your fridge, etc… 

Some great examples of Order & Pay apps: Wi5, Yoello, OrderBee, IPubBeacon… 

Date Published: 18th August 2020