The BarCode App was established to support independent pubs, bars, restaurants and breweries in what was already a tough market. Over the last six weeks, between the pandemic and ensuing lockdown it has only become more challenging.
What is clear is that there will not be a quick return to normal. The social, psychological and economicaftermath will be felt, for a long time to come. Cabinet minister, Michael Gove, has confirmed that restaurants and pubs will be the last to exit the lockdown. Once open there will likely be a period of strict social-distancing regulations. This will probably result in limited services, reduced customer numbers allowed in venues and strict sanitation practices to meet new hygiene standards. All amounting to additional costs in a struggling market.
A recent survey conducted by KAM Media found that “86% of businesses think consumers will eat out less than they did prior to lockdown and 82% believe fewer Brits will drink out.” According to YOUGOV, 63% of Britons would be uncomfortable returning to bars whilst around 6 in 10 would be reluctant to return to cafes and restaurants. Given these findings, we foresee a catastrophic loss of consumer confidence due to fears for their health and precarious financial situation.
Therefore, we must think of practical ways to help our partner venues through a difficult transition from reopening to a viable future.
What we do
Some of the ways we can help are already embedded in The BarCode’s DNA. The concept was always to give bars their own app to use as a direct marketing tool with a growing customer base. Others are in direct response to the issues raised by Covid-19.
To begin with, independents can engage with customers through push-notifications, listings and updates. They can now use the same function to inform targeted audiences on changes to opening hours, sanitation practices, rules regarding restriction of services and the new services and innovations put in place be it delivery or booking options.
In addition, 10% of all revenue generated at The BarCode has always been donated to charities on a community and sector basis.
In order to respond effectively to future challenges—flexibility and adaptability will be key. The same KAM Media study also found that, “One-in-four of the businesses surveyed had started offering delivery as a result of the lock-down, and 80% said they intended to continue offering this service post-lock-down. Two-thirds (67%) are already proactively planning how to attract customers back once they’re allowed to reopen.”
With unpredictable consumption trends in relation to venues: physical visits, ordering-in and take-aways as options, and the need for venues to respond to sudden legislative changes at short notice—communicating with their consumer base has never been more important.
Additionally, the food and drinks market will witness an asymmetrical return. For instance, fast food chains can deploy more order screens away from counters and promote drive through and delivery options. However, for independents, given the experiential nature of their draw (ambience, quality chef-led food, beer served on draft, events, etc.)—we need to think and execute differently.
In line with these findings, The BarCode has added a few new features and marketing tools to help independents adapt and engage with customers at this time:
- We will provide £20 bar tabs for every 20 friends that our users invite to the app. This will give independents a larger audience to reach and additional revenue when users redeem the offer. The BarCode will reimburse participating venues in full.
- Venues can add hyperlinks to push-notifications to direct users to delivery or booking aggregators or their own ordering platforms.
- Venues can also add hyperlinks to external bookings sites for ticketed events, to promote and manage the number of people, in case government restrictions on social distancing are enforced. The same can be followed for table bookings to regulate footfall.
- Changing the authentication process of offers from PIN entry on user phones to a location-based system. Users automate redemption offers once in the bar and venue staff are not required to make physical contact with customer devices.
What more can The BarCode do?
We want to do whatever we can to help and would love your feedback, so please send any suggestions or other enquiries you may have to [email protected]. If it’s technically and financially possible, it will be done.