In a move that could speed the decline of the humble bar tender, Reading University has introduced a self-serve 16-tap “beer wall” at its onsite student union, allowing students to pull their own pints and buy beverages with a single tap of their debit or credit card.
Screens above each tap will allow customers to choose which brand of draft beer they want, show how much it will cost, and display information about the beer, including the percentage of alcohol by volume.
With students able to pour themselves a beer and pay with their contactless plastic or mobile wallet, the bars will have increased capacity, speedier service and a reduced threat of theft, claims Drink Command, the company behind the self-serve beer technology, which is also being rolled out in other bars across the UK and Ireland, including in Hilton Hotels.
The self-serve beer pump technology, which is integrated with Verifone’s electronic payments system, is not the first to be launched in Britain. In 2012, The Thirsty Bear pub in Southwark, London, introduced pumps for customers to pull their own pint after placing their order from an iPad installed on each table.
Customers of the pub were also able to order food or change the songs on the jukebox via the iPad.
While the technology allows customers to easily and conveniently refill their glasses, potentially leading to a higher consumption of alcohol, Drink Command insists the system “makes it easier for bar staff to monitor users’ beer consumption to ensure compliance with local responsible drinking guidelines”.
The soaring popularity of contactless payment methods is prompting more retailers to look at ways they can introduce technology that enhances the customer experience with quicker service and less interaction with staff.
A new study from Worldpay revealed that two thirds of 21 to 34-year olds would happily make a payment without any human interaction.
Robbie Ward of Drink Command, said: “There is a change of mind-set happening in the beer dispense industry, similar to how self-serve technology has improved the way we buy petrol for our cars, or how supermarkets have improved queuing times with self-scan checkouts.”
Matt Tebbit, head of residential catering and bars at The University of Reading, said: “Our 16-tap self-serve beer wall has allowed us to increase our capacity to serve more customers and hold our existing staff levels by giving patrons the option to order from the bar, or serve themselves at their leisure.”