restaurant-management | 9 mins read

How to Choose The Best POS System For Restaurants- A Complete Buyer's Guide

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Debdutta Bhattacharjee

By Debdutta Bhattacharjee

What is a Restaurant POS System?

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A restaurant point of sale or POS system is the place where merchants accept payments from their customers for the goods and services purchased. It may be located inside a physical store, where POS terminals may be used to process payments, or it may well be a virtual sales point like a computer or a tablet. POS systems today, however, perform many more tasks than merely debit/credit card processing.

They are platforms where many other business functions come together. These include inventory management, sales monitoring, vendor order management, reporting, analytics, employee management, customer relationship management, customer data management, customer support, customer service, stock transfers, quotation issuing, and accounting. POS systems help businesses operate smoothly and enable them to generate profits.

Restaurant POS systems essentially consist of two componentshardware and software.

POS hardware comprises physical assets and may include a simple cash register, an iPad, a touchscreen, a tablet, or a mobile device that calculates and processes transactions. POS hardware operated by restaurants may also include a debit/credit card reader that facilitates contactless payment through mobile wallets (like Google Pay or Apple Pay), chip cards, or magstripe cards. POS hardware may also come with a cash drawer, a receipt printer, a barcode scanner, and network devices like modems or wi-fi hubs.

Restaurant POS software, on the other hand, are computer programs that allow merchants to input orders, calculate the price of products and services, and receive payment for them. It stores information within a database and allows sellers to manage every aspect of their business.

POS systems today have expanded beyond recognition and are customized to meet the requirements of every business type and size. For instance, the needs of a quick service restaurant and those of a full service restaurant may be different. The best POS systems, therefore, have features that cater to the exact needs of the business using them.

Hubworks' feature-rich Plum POS is perhaps the best POS system for restaurants. Other top platforms for the foodservice industry are Square POS, Clover POS, Lavu POS, Upserve POS, Lightspeed restaurant POS, Revel Systems, and TouchBistro POS.

6 Essential Features of a POS System- 1. Cloud-based

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Nowadays, more and more bars and restaurants are moving to cloud-based POS platforms. Traditional POS systems have declined in popularity, though establishments like gas stations and some retail stores continue to use them.

Web-based POS systems powered by cloud technology define the evolution of POS systems, with the POS software essentially doing the heavy-lifting for cloud-based platforms. The smarter the software, the better the POS system.

Old school POS systems are maintained on site, involve voluminous machines, and operate on a closed network that can be accessed only by a few connected devices. Cloud-based systems, however, can dispense with elaborate hardware architecture and make do with minimal hardware.

The cloud server syncs with the main device in real-time. The user, therefore, is able to access information and make product and pricing changes on the go from anywhere, using any device.

A web-based system securely stores data in the cloud. This is easily retrievable, even in the event of file loss, damage, accidental deletion, or if the system crashes. These systems can process any amount of data without the data being distorted or lost.

A kitchen display system (KDS) is one of the best examples of the way cloud-based systems make restaurant operations quick, simple, and hassle-free.

A KDS works remotely. Orders are visible to the kitchen staff as soon as they are fed into the
Restaurant Pos system. This allows the cooks to quickly start preparing dishes. A KDS reduces the chances of manual error and saves employees a considerable amount of time and energy, allowing them to focus on customer service and process more orders.

Furthermore, simple POS terminals with QR codes or self-service menu interfaces let diners view menu items and place orders digitally. Apart from tableside ordering, these systems also support tableside payments.

Cloud-based POS solutions reduce a restaurant's upfront costs. They are compact and portable and can be integrated with smartphones and tablets. This feature of cloud POS systems has led to the emergence of mobile POS and EPOS systems.

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2. End-to-end Restaurant Management

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A good Restaurant Pos system should support end-to-end management of operations and do away with the need to have multiple tools and software performing individual functions. There are several marketing tools and loyalty programs available in the market, but unless they receive information from the POS system, they cannot act.

Modern POS systems used by restaurants, on the other hand, are able to integrate various tasks like payment processing, inventory management, order-taking and billing, table reservation, online ordering, customer management, marketing, loyalty programs, base kitchen management, reporting, and analytics. A smart POS platform allows all these activities to be managed with a few clicks in real time, from anywhere and on any device. This greatly simplifies restaurant management.

A POS system also reduces a restaurant's operating costs. Intuit Market Research points out that retail stores with revenues of $300,000 per year can reduce operating costs by 10% by using a POS system.

Restaurants, especially smaller ones, however, have to be careful not to overpay for POS features, nor pay for features they hardly use. It's possible, though, for a small business to keep its POS system lean and still robust enough to address its vital needs for as little as $50-250 a month.

3. Real Time Analytics

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A POS system integrated with a smartphone or any other mobile device gives users the option to view reports on sales, employee performance, inventory, and so on, in real time from anywhere. These reports can then be analyzed and acted upon by business owners on the go.

This feature makes running the business extremely convenient for restaurateurs. They may be on vacation, spending quality time with kids, or camping, but will still be able to access the cloud to monitor what's going on in their restaurant several miles away.

Inventory reports may tell the business owner that the ingredients for a popular dish are running low. The entrepreneur can then immediately reorder the ingredient with a click on their smartphone. All that's required is an internet connection.

POS reports also reveal fast-selling and slow-moving menu items. They also alert a business owner about how much is being spent on employees. All this data can be viewed round the clock. An analysis of these mobile POS reports allows the business owner to take more prudent and data-driven decisions. These include strategy recalibration to cut costs, streamline operations and maximize profits. This leads to more efficient restaurant management.

4. Third Party Integrations

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Top POS systems allow seamless integration with add-ons and third-party apps, like those related to accounting, loyalty programs, customer support, eCommerce, and so on. These would significantly improve the experience of both the merchants and the customers, but are bound to drive the cost of the POS platform up.

A POS platform that comes with a data integration features will allow old data to be fed into the system. This in turn ensures that important information is not lost, and data from diverse sources can be accumulated and used in one place.

In this day and age when newer, cashless modes of payment are gaining ground, the POS system should let merchants accept contactless payments in the form of mobile wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay, debit/credit cards, gift cards, and so on.

Restaurants today must also acquire POS systems that can integrate with online ordering platforms like Chowly and UberEats, and delivery apps like GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates.

POS systems should also allow a restaurant to accept orders on the phone, automatically transferring the call to the next available line if the first line is busy. This ensures that the restaurant does not forgo orders, even on a busy day.

A smartphone integrated with an add-on card reading device is fleet-footed, allowing the restaurant to capture business opportunities anywhere.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

5. Online Ordering

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Orders registered on third-party apps reflect in the restaurant's POS system. A POS system, therefore, does away with the need to manually enter each order received from different online ordering channels. As soon as orders appear in the Restaurant POS system, they are displayed on the KDS, and the chefs can quickly get down to business. Hence, the wait time for takeout and delivery is shorter.

This sets off a positive chain reaction, cutting employee time and effort, speeding up operations, and at the end of it, raising customer satisfaction. This ultimately leads to lower costs and higher profits. It would also ensure that restaurant employees do not have to handle constant customer calls.

A restaurant with a robust POS Solution that's well-equipped to handle online orders ensures that customers do not get frustrated with having to wait in long queues. In view of the 'new normal' necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemicwith social distancing being one of the main points of emphasisthe ability to handle online ordering will contribute significantly to customer satisfaction.

Online ordering also lets customers place orders hours or even days in advance. This gives customers the freedom to order when they want, and makes sure the restaurant doesn't miss opportunities for business.

6. Customer Support

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It's a known fact that 80% of the revenue of a business is driven by 20% of its customers. A restaurant is able to identify its most loyal customers with the help of POS-generated customer information. The customers can then be incentivized with the help of loyalty programs. This could also lead to repeat orders from one-off customers.

Customers can be engaged via targeted promotions. These are done through email marketing, phone messages, and so on. Personalized communication with customers persuade them to promote a restaurant on social media or word-of-mouth channels, allowing the restaurant to boost its revenues.

Apart from fast and efficient service, restaurants can also build customer loyalty and satisfaction by offering the option of online ordering, by notifying customers when an out-of-stock item is available, and through cross-selling of related products.

POS integration with mobile apps allows restaurants to send custom offers, menu updates, and announcements about the launch of new productsright to the customers' mobile phones, further improving the customer experience. Mobile apps can also receive orders, prepayments, and reservations.

Having customer data at hand allows restaurants to provide them with personalized services. For instance, if a customer usually orders French Fries with their regular meal, the next time they place an order on the restaurant's website, a window may pop up with the option to add french fries to the order.

A customer-centric approach supported by a strong POS system will help restaurants retain customer, attract new ones, and increase revenue.

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"Our customer's trust is what keeps us in business. They expect fresh tasting food with no threat of ill-born diseases. Zip HACCP keeps us compliant with HACCP and FDA regulations through its integrated temperature solutions, food safety assurance, and end-to-end task reporting. We also use Zip Inventory to save time on inventory counts and have much-needed predictability to our ordering process. The Hubworks business management apps are perfect for our restaurants."

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