Calling time on the bar: Pub-goers want to keep ordering on apps rather than at the bar when Covid-19 restrictions ease

Ordering on app

When lockdown lifted, many pubs and bars across the country implemented digital ordering systems to adhere to social distancing.

New research out today shows that 80 percent of pub-goers that have used such systems want pubs to keep the service available even after guidelines change.

According to the study commissioned by Flipdish, almost two-thirds of respondents said they are now more likely to visit a pub or a bar with a digital app and over half would actually miss ordering drinks via an app if it stopped. The preference for digital ordering intensifies among younger demographics and women. Only one in seven of 18 – 24 year-olds surveyed prefer queuing at the bar and women are half as likely to do the same compared to the men.

Customers that have experienced digital table ordering since lockdown say the top benefits are: not needing to queue, not losing table and chairs, not needing to remember a drinks order, less interaction with staff and other members of the public and more time speaking to friends/family.

The worst aspects about ordering at a bar pre-lockdown include: long queues, people being unfairly served first, getting sticky elbows from a wet bar and needing to shout over loud music.

Conor McCarthy, CEO of Flipdish, said: “Landlords across the country turned to digital ordering to keep customers and staff safe. But, as the benefits become clear, what was first a lockdown safety measure is fast becoming the locals’ favourite. 

Pubs have been a vital part of UK culture for hundreds of years – many have seen recessions, Prime Ministers and Kings and Queens all come and go. They have survived by moving with the times and adapting to customer trends. Covid-19 will pass too but it will undoubtedly leave its mark on the way we order food and drink.

“Punters are calling time on queuing at the bar. They want to spend less time jostling for space and frantically trying to make eye contact with staff, and more time with friends and family.”

Steve Wynne, Licensee of The Hand Inn, said: “App ordering enabled us to quickly get back on our feet after lockdown. Since using the technology, staff feel safer and more confident coming to work. Locals and new customers alike easily grasped the system and love it. There will always be a place for locals to sit and talk with staff but for those that prefer to stay seated, it’s a great option.”

It is not just drinkers that are benefiting from digital ordering. Staff prefer it too, according to David Johnston, owner ofThe Paper Mill and The Craigie in Scotland, said: “We pivoted to Click & Collect during lockdown so we figured the next step was our own-branded app. Our staff are fantastic but having digital ordering means they can focus on giving customers an amazing experience and spend less time worried about giving back the right change, remembering difficult orders and working out who’s next to be served.”