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There’s more than one way to pay the bar tab

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Arkell’s was established in 1843. The family brewer, which is based in Swindon has grown over the centuries and now boasts an estate of more than 90 pubs.

It is currently Swindon’s oldest company and one of the oldest traditional breweries still operating in Britain.

That rich heritage is something Arkell’s shares with Lloyds Bank, which has been in business for hundreds of years.

Melinda: “We are 300 years old in terms of our brand, everyone knows Lloyds Bank.

“We are also a large bank to small and medium businesses. We have 1m small and medium businesses across the UK that we help with many things like day-to-day banking, corporate card needs or when they need to buy more assets.

“We are here to help with consumer payment needs, everything from the pubs George has and providing the card machines to online payments – we are seeing increasingly many small businesses wanting to buy and sell things online or do both.”

Over the years, the ways in which customers pay have shifted, with a rise in card payments exacerbated by the pandemic.

George said: “Back in the day, you’d tap your pocket and hope you had enough change when you went to the pub [whereas] now, you just need to take your phone or even your watch so it’s much easier for people to pay for goods and services.

“Covid was a big change and people got used to paying for things online and electronically. We have gone up by a third in our transactions, from about £10m to £16m on card payments nowadays.”

George joined the business around 20 years ago when very few of Arkell’s sites sold food and cash was king.

“Back then, the majority of our pubs were wet-led, a few would sell chicken in a basket and that was about it but most of them [sold] just beer, wine and spirits and it was predominantly cash,” he said.

“We did have card machines when I first arrived but only in the food pubs rather than in the drinking pubs.

“The change to now is unbelievable really. Now it’s all about card, quick payments and trying to make it as easy as possible.”

That significant change has brought both pros and cons for the business and its loyal patrons, George said.

“It brings good and bad from our point of view. The good is it’s a much safer way of dealing with transactions, it doesn’t go missing, which was always a problem in pubs over the years. “[Card payments] you can keep an eye on and know it’s gone straight into the bank,” he added.

“The downside is some of the more traditional customers do still prefer to use cash. We haven’t gone cashless in our managed pubs, we still do accept cash but a number of our tenants have gone across to card only and they love it, they find it really beneficial.”

To get a perspective on customers opinions about payment experiences, Lloyds Bank conducted research with Freedom Pay and the Financial Times​.

The results highlighted the importance of businesses investing in payment technology solutions.

Melinda said: “When consumers are at the pub, out having fun, their tolerances for poorer experiences is even lower.

“[They want a] flawless experience – they want to tap their phone on the card machine, they want to get their beer, they don’t want any mish-mash declines or confusion around that.

“[Some] 65% of businesses are saying that transforming their payments is at the heart of their strategy, that rises to 69% of those in hospitality.

“Of the people we surveyed, 59% said a good checkout experience is important, almost as important as having a good product. [With regards] to food and beverage businesses, that goes to 64% so there’s a marked difference for F&B businesses and for retailers to make sure there is that flawless experience.”

She also outlined the importance of loyalty in the sector and for operators to be able to align customer data while ensuring security of customer’s personal details.

Melinda added: “A lot of smaller businesses, particularly in hospitality and retail might not have access to a lot of those security services and data services, that’s why solutions such as the ones we work with Arkell’s on are key.

“The third is around trust. From a business perspective, sometimes there are so many options out there and it gets confusing.

“It’s great for customers to work with a big brand like Lloyds Bank, which can provide a customer with guidance on products in a very knowledgeable way.”

Looking ahead, technology is likely to be at the forefront of payments, continuing to make it easier for both operators and customers alike, according to Melinda.

She said: “As technology continues to develop and the barriers for entry to use it become lower and lower those characteristics from the survey we did found, merchants and consumers want payments to be easy, frictionless and secure. The best payments are the most frictionless.”

Lloyds Bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under Registration Number 119278.

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