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If the Thursday Curry Club isn’t incentive enough, UK pub chain Wetherspoons has just given customers another reason to visit.
Order and Pay is a brand new app that allows you to order food and drink without queuing at the bar.
While a few restaurant chains have introduced similar apps before, it’s a bold move by Britain’s biggest pub chain, with the potential to change service in its famous watering holes forever. But will it catch on? More to the point, is it any good? Here are my thoughts.
Ordering made easy
The premise of Order and Pay is exactly as it sounds. In a nutshell, it allows you to peruse the menu, order and pay without the need for any interaction with staff.
It’s very simple to use. When you download the app, it will automatically detect your location, allowing you to select the Wetherspoons you are in or view a list of pubs nearby.
You can then view the food and drinks menu, before selecting your table and what you would like to order. With the option to pay via PayPal or debit card, checking out is fuss free, and an automatic system takes any discounts or offers into consideration on your behalf.
What are the benefits?
Wetherspoons describes its app as an ‘innovative solution’ for everyone from families to large groups of mates. If you are dining with children, for instance, you won’t have to leave them alone at the table. Similarly, it also takes away the need to navigate a packed pub with a massive tray of drinks.
Of course, it also provides you with a great excuse to be lazy as well as to avoid any social interaction with employees. Naturally then, some have suggested that it will bring a sad end to the inherently social experience of going to the pub, where queuing at the bar is part and parcel of it all - just like Wetherspoons' sticky carpets or its gut-busting breakfasts.
On the flip side, there’s the argument that it can only improve the experience for customers. We can all relate to waiting ages to be served or trying to locate a soggy menu – why risk that scenario when you can avoid it entirely? While the technology can only take you so far - with service still reliant on staff once the order has been taken - there’s no doubt that the technology facilitates a much more streamlined experience in the initial stages.
One of the biggest benefits is also the fact that it draws greater attention to what you are actually ordering. For example, you might go to the bar and order a glass of wine and a main meal without thinking much about price or nutritional info. With the app, however, you are presented with the various prices, sizes, calories and optional extras before checking out.
Granted, if you're eating in a Wetherspoons, you probably don't care that much, but it could still help some customers make more considered and better informed choices.
What other features does it offer?
The Order and Pay aspect of the app is undoubtedly its main draw, however it has a few additional features that are also worthy of a mention.
First, it includes a reorder option that conveniently lets you order the same again – pretty handy when there are lots of you. Secondly, a comprehensive allergen and nutrition menu lets you view detailed information at a glance, although it's not really mobile optimised.
There's also a decent amount of information on top of the actual menu, including an ‘about’ section on the specific pub you’re in, as well as its contact details and opening times. You can build a list of your favourite Wetherspoons, too, which is a feature that regulars are sure to appreciate.
Will it catch on?
There’s no doubt that the Order and Pay app is something of a novelty – its introduction is likely to be met with intrigue by many of Wetherspoon’s younger visitors. However, it has to be said that it isn't actually that useful for the fit and able customer. Instead, it’s more likely to help people who have trouble carrying drinks or queuing up for long periods of time – perhaps an older demographic that, ironically, will naturally be less likely to use it.
Regardless, by simply taking away the hassle of queuing, it may well to appeal to all generations.
With bar staff also still ready and willing to take orders at the bar, it’ll be interesting to see whether customers will use the technology once the novelty has worn off.
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