How to Pick the Best Restaurant POS System: Tips & Picks
Looking for a POS system for your new restaurant business or just looking to rewire your restaurant’s current management system?
Either way pens out! You will first need to list down your restaurant POS requirements. Because POS needs vary from restaurant to restaurant. A system that works for one restaurant may not work for another. And there are a plethora of different providers to pick from, but each offers a unique set of tools, features, and services – too much to digest or wrap one’s head around.
And as a restauranteur, you probably don’t have the luxury to browse through countless websites and scour through gazillions of online reviews to get the required details. To help you break through the clutter and make your browsing experience a tad less stressful, we’ve put together a handy guide narrowing it down to some of the best POS restaurant systems.
Before we get to that, however, it is essential that you first understand what POS features you should be looking for when choosing the best restaurant POS system for your restaurant business.
What are the Top Restaurant POS Features You Need to Keep an Eye Out for?
Typically, the best restaurant POS system will have to comprise a floor plan, order management and delivery system that syncs with the restaurant kitchen, and a simple checkout feature. While the best restaurant POS systems will comprise a handful of unique and brilliant features, make sure they include the following features.
1. Online ordering — allows quick-serves to let their customers order food online
2. Inventory Management & Alerts — allows tracking of orders and the ingredients used as well as notify when certain ingredients run out and need restocking
3. Employee Tracking — helps maintain records on employees and their operations i.e which employee was serving a which station, and at what time
4. Table Service — ensures that the right table gets the right item delivered
5. Billing — accepts the card, cash, and offers contactless payment
6. Loyalty Programs — offers deals and gift cards in order to attract repeat customers
7. Track Reservations — lets the staff track meal reservations in advance (week or months earlier)
8. Customer Engagement — manages as well as secures approved contact lists – phone numbers to email addresses for customer marketing
Based on these functionalities perhaps you can even draft out your own restaurant’s set of requirements.
Understanding Common POS Systems Types: On-Premises Vs. Cloud-Based
1. Desktop/On-Premises POS Systems
A desktop or on-premises restaurant management POS system has long been used for the management of restaurants. The data is stored on local servers and the system functions in a closed internal network. And they’re nearly everywhere, from the grocery shop you religiously shop at to your favorite clothing outlet.
Reasons why traditional systems are overrated
- They are difficult to scale
- They are based on local servers – IT maintenance is required
- They can be expensive (Servers) – higher upfront cost
- They pose a risk of data loss
These setbacks are why more and more restaurant businesses are now shifting to cloud-based systems or mobile POS systems. As the latter is in comparison a lot easier to maintain.
2. Cloud-Based POS System
Cloud-based restaurant management POS is essentially Software as a Service (SaaS) that allows all the data to be stored and accessed from a remote server. Everything including the customer information, billing, and sales as well as recipe details are stored on the internet.
“One of CitrusBits’ recent projects required designing a food order and delivery app for Urban Plates as well as integrating it with a cloud-based POS system.
Since all the information is stored on the internet, you can access it from anywhere using any internet-enabled device. As per a report, It has been forecasted that cloud-based systems will dominate the market by 2024.
Reasons to opt for a Cloud-based Restaurant POS System
- As all data is saved on remote servers, even if the POS terminal in the restaurant is impaired, the data remains secure and can be backed up in an instant
- Internet disruptions would not affect the Cloud POS activity
- Real-time sales data can be accessed right from your smartphone
- It is easy to add features like loyalty programs, online shopping and payment, table reservation, and accounting
- Third-party apps can be integrated into the POS and configured to meet your restaurant needs
- No costly servers required, and because it is online, there are no additional costs of re-installation in case the system crashes
- Are scalable-new features can be quickly added
- One of the biggest advantage it has over a desktop or on-premises POS system You can count on your handhelds i.e. mobile wireless terminals (mPOS) or tablet devices
And the best part? You don’t necessarily have to be tech-savvy to opt for a cloud-based restaurant POS system. Most of them are easier to use and learn.
However, it has one giant setback. What happens when there is no wifi connection and your POS terminal is disconnected from the internet?
But then again, it is something that can be easily dealt with. Now that you have learned a thing or two about POS systems, we believe you’re ready to shop for your restaurant POS system. The market for restaurant POS systems is filled with infinite vendors, and we cannot list down all the best ones out there. However, we have comprised a list of some of the best ones out there.
Best Restaurant POS Systems: Our Top Picks from the Market
Remember that list you created earlier? Well, time to pull it out. Because we have drafted a list of some of the most renowned point of sale systems for restaurants available in the market to choose from.
Once again, an ideal POS system will streamline every function of your restaurant, bar, or cafe, from orders and payments of orders to your complete inventory of ingredients, as well as ingrain trust in consumers – who might be wary of dining out – with features like touch-free payment or loyalty programs.
Being one of the trusted and best restaurant pos systems in the market, at present more than 23,000 restaurants across 100 countries worldwide are using the TouchBistro restaurant POS system. It is an iPad POS and integrated payments solution developed specifically for restaurateurs.
TouchBistro endorses contactless payment through integrated payment systems and allows you to store the list of ingredients, allergy information, and photos for each dish. What’s more, with its easy-to-use UI it’s easier for your staff to use as well.
- Offers tableside ordering and restaurant table management
- Offers payment processing solutions
- Offers restaurant inventory management
- Offers functionalities for menu management and CRM
If you’re running a quick-service restaurant or a mid-sized restaurant business, we believe TouchBistro is an ideal choice. But it is quite flexible for other types of businesses too. You will need a wireless router to let TouchBistro POS run on a reliable and secure local network. Meanwhile, to get started with smaller restaurant businesses you will only require an iPad.
The only con to TouchBistro POS is that it only works with iPads!
2. Square POS
We picked Square as it’s one of the leading POS systems for restaurant businesses out there. In fact, before it went for Oracle Simphony, Starbucks had quite a good partnership with Square.
Although Square offers a wide array of hardware accessories, you can go for a software-only model and at a very low cost convert your current iPad into a quick-service device. Let’s take a look at its core features.
- Menu customization
- Layout management
- Strong analytics
- Customer feedback
- Per-item sales tracking
- Free to install
- 24/7 support
- Serves all business sizes
Aside from the above-mentioned core features, Square for restaurant POS system offers a dedicated solution for food trucks, coffee shops, table service, counter service, bars & lounges, bakeries. Square POS solution is quite popular with many quick-service restaurants as well. A plus point to using square is that it is easily customizable. You can update menus and floor layouts easily and remotely across multiple terminals and locations.
The standard or basic restaurant software kit offers menu, inventory, and layout management, add-ons, albeit, are also included. The Square brand is well-known and stands for ease-of-use, plenty of features, and a reasonable support team.
Square offers integrations with delivery services like Caviar, Postmates, DoorDash, or Chowly, and any delivery orders from these services are automatically sent to your POS and routed directly to your kitchen. These integrations make it easier to view and keep track of all your in-store, online, and delivery orders in one place. Square is easily one of the best point-of-sale systems for restaurants.
Square’s POS software is completely free to set up, as are the above-mentioned core features. They come with the basic plan. While Square doesn’t charge a monthly fee, it charges a percentage per transaction. Some hardware features may cost you extra as well.
The con to Square POS is that for many large businesses, the costs for using Square POS will scale up at a rate faster than most other POS services, which typically charge a set monthly fee in order to process unlimited sales.
However, in all its generosity, Square POS offers custom rates to large businesses.
3. Toast POS
For those of you who are tired of seeing the iPad listed as the basic POS system requirement, Toast comes bearing glad tidings of Android heavens. It ONLY supports Android tablets and phones and integrates all the core functions into an easy-to-understand interface.
These include sales, billing, inventory, layout management, analytics reports, and loyalty programs.
- Supports Android
- Offline mode
- Strong menu customization
- Online ordering
- Delivery service features
- Inventory management
- Free trial
- 24/7 support
- Serves all business sizes
It’s a fine selection for bars, bakeries, casual, fast-casual, fine dining – even delivery services, and online ordering. For businesses looking to expand or scale to meet their customers wherever they are, this POS a great choice. Hence, one of our best picks.
Toast also offers easy-to-use scalable software for your restaurant business. Here’s another awesome aspect, it Integrates with 70+ of the most popular restaurant partners.
One of Toast’s cons however is that it isn’t compatible with iOS devices.
4. Clover POS
Clover helps restaurant chains accommodate online ordering and distribution management. Clover also provides useful online integrations, including the Mailchimp newsletter service and the Shopify e-commerce company.
But what makes Clover one of the best restaurant POS systems is their suite of customer engagement features email lists with promo options and private feedback. Clover’s interface is easy to understand and use, and it works from laptops, tablets, and handheld devices alike.
- Serves quick-service businesses
- Online order & delivery
- Customer engagement
- Dynamic floor plans
- Strong analytics
- Tableside service
- Free trial
- Guest seating
- Limited support hours
The floor plans can be tailored to fit your specific venue, enabling servers to keep track of which tables are available and which need to be served. Orders and billing can be processed directly from a mobile device, enabling busy consumers to easily place orders or pay on delivery.
While the core features listed for every point of sale system for restaurants are important to consider when picking out a POS for your restaurant business, you need to go beyond just the features and consider other essential ingredients. For instance, the best restaurant POS systems will be cost-effective, easy to use, well-reviewed, easy to use, have a built-in loyalty program, and comes with a professional customer support team.
And if the information listed above makes your head spin, you can always reach out to experts at CitrusBits for a consultancy or a custom-built point of sale system for restaurants to meet your restaurant business’s needs.