pos software | 15 mins read

Beginner's Guide To Buying the Right Pos Software for A Food Business

beginners guide to buying the right pos software for a food business 1644487531 8703
Debdutta Bhattacharjee

By Debdutta Bhattacharjee

What is POS Software?

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A point of sale system or POS system is an important part of any shopping experience. It is the place where merchants take payments from customers, transactions are completed, and products handed over to buyers.

Modern POS systems also facilitate payment processing, inventory management, sales monitoring, vendor ordering, reporting, analytics, employee management, customer relationship management, customer data management, customer support, customer service, purchase orders, stock transfers, quotations, accounting, and so on.

All POS systems are powered with Pos Software that process orders, calculate product cost, and accept payments. That's not all. POS software stores information and manages it as part of a database. It allows merchants who run brick mortar stores as well as online merchants manage the nitty-gritty of their businesses at the virtual level.

A POS system also includes physical assets like a simple cash register, iPad, tablet, touchscreen, or mobile that help in the calculation and processing of transactions.

POS hardware may include a debit/credit card reader, which allows customers to pay securely through contactless cards, mobile wallets (like Google Pay or Apple Pay), chip cards, or magstripe cards. It may also come with a cash drawer, barcode scanner, receipt printer, and network devices like modems, or wi-fi hubs.

Modern POS systems have expanded to cover a wide range of establishments, including both, small businesses and large enterprises. Talking about the restaurant industry in particular, the needs of a quick service restaurant would be different from those of a full service one.

Traditional vs Web-based POS Systems

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POS software tends to do the heavy lifting for POS systems, especially web-based POS systems. Unlike traditional systems that are maintained on-site, involve bulky machines, run on a closed network, and can be accessed using only a limited range of linked devices, web-based systems store data online on a cloud server. These cloud-based POS software systems preclude the need for elaborate hardware.

The cloud server syncs in real-time with the primary device and lets the user access data from anywhere, using any device. Importantly, the data is securely backed up on the cloud and can be retrieved even if a file is lost, accidentally deleted, or if the POS software crashes.

A cloud-based system allows a merchant to sync accounts and inventories between an offline and an online store. Another advantage of cloud-based systems over on-site ones is that the former allows seamless integration with new modules and third-party apps, and can be customized easily to suit specific business needs.

Cloud-based systems greatly reduce upfront costs for businesses, offer advanced POS features, and help track and process bulky purchases. Small businesses can avail the benefits of these POS systems by paying as little as $50-250 per month. However, businesses do need to factor in POS fees that include payment processing, extra hardware, add-ons, etc.

The compactness and portability of web-based POS systems have made it possible for them to be integrated with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The growing use of the web-based POS software solution has caused a proliferation of mobile POS and EPOS.

  • According to Worldpay's The Global Payments Report, digital/mobile wallets were the leading POS payment method worldwide in 2020.
  • While 25.7% of the payments were made through this POS channel, 22.4% were made through credit cards, 22.3% through debit cards, and 20.5% through cash.
  • By 2024, the share of digital/mobile wallets is expected to increase to 33.4%. The share of cash in 2024 is expected to go down to 12.7%.

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Why Does a Foodservice Business Need a POS System?

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1. Better inventory management-
A POS system lets a merchant manage inventory levels more efficiently and in an error-free manner than manual stock-taking methods. When stocks are received, they're simply scanned and their quantities recorded.

Likewise, a scanner linked to the POS system's inventory would update the stocks according to the items sold. The POS system alerts the merchant when stocks are running low. Other software may also include security integrations to track potential theft.

2. Speedy payments-
After the customer chooses a product, a store sales associate scans the product and checks its selling price. The POS software calculates the price of the product, taking into account taxes and discounts, and updates the inventory count to count the item as sold.

The customer uses one of his or her many payment options, like debit/credit card, gift card, or cash, to make the payment. The customer's bank then authorizes the transaction. The POS transaction is complete and a receipt is printed. This will significantly reduce the customer's wait time.

3. Advanced reporting and analytics-
POS software helps generate detailed and automatic reports on a number of aspects of the business, starting from sales, contacts, and purchases, to prices and inventories. These are much easier to create than manual reports and can be accessed round the clock, in real time from anywhere. These reports, therefore, give a lucid picture of the progress of the business, on the basis of which processes and sales can be optimized.

4. Better customer management-
A POS system records customer information and gives a clear idea about who the loyal customers are. The business can then move to incentivize these customers. It's a well-known fact that 80% of the revenue is driven by 20% of the customers.

Robust customer management lets businesses offer targeted promotions in the form of email marketing, phone messages, and so on. Personalized communication with loyal customers would mean that these customers would promote a business on social media or through word-of-mouth, boosting revenue in the process.

Reports generated by POS software on customer behavior make it possible to create loyalty programs for regular customers, and even build repeat orders from one-off customers. Customer experience can be heightened by providing the option of online ordering, by notifying customers when an out-of-stock item becomes available, and through cross-selling of related products.

5. Multi store management-
Some POS systems allow easy management of several stores/franchises in a network. These may be spread across multiple locations. This greatly reduces the workload of the parent company. Multi-store management software allows a business to control the network from the parent company account. So price changes, product additions, and so on, made by the parent account will automatically reflect at the level of the subsidiary stores.

6. Stronger employee management-
POS systems reveal employee-related information like sales per employee, hours worked, and sales per time slot. It gives an idea of the best and worst performers, and the peak hours in the store. A POS system can also be used as an employee time clock, allowing managers to prepare schedules, optimize employee time on the floor, and provide training more effectively.

7. High accuracy and less time-consuming-
An example of this is the kitchen display system (KDS) integrated with the restaurant POS system. This ordering display system works remotely and is powered by cloud based POS technology. It allows the kitchen staff in the back office to provide prompt service.

Orders are displayed on the KDS screen as they are uploaded to the system. It is a fully automated process that does away with paper tickets and kitchen printers, saving a lot of time and effort, precluding the chances of manual error, and generally raising restaurant efficiency. This technology is a real boon for quick service restaurants that have to necessarily provide swift service.

Real time reporting, in fact, is another function that can carry on automatically, which saves time.

More Benefits of a POS System

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1. Reduced operating cost-
A study by Intuit Market Research found that retail stores that report revenues of $300,000 can reduce operating costs by 10%, by incorporating a POS software system in the business. Money saved naturally means more income in the pocket. The money saved can then be redistributed to other pressing needs of the business.

2. Organized operation-
Various features like management of revenue, stocks, customers, suppliers, and so on within the same software make sure that the business is organized. Also, with different stores in a network receiving the same information, the chances of miscommunication are minimized. This helps in increasing productivity and hence, profit.

3. Simplified operation-
A quality setup can cut the number of operations made in a store, and hence, simplify and hasten the functioning of businesses, and save time and effort. For instance, when the entire inventory management system is computerized, stocks can simply be scanned and recorded in the system. Tracking them thus becomes much easier than messy manual processes.

What Features Should Good POS Software Include?

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Choosing the best POS software is not an easy task. What are the features that the best POS system has? Let's look at them-

1. Fast and simple checkout that ensures not much effort is invested to complete transactions.

2. A good inventory tracking software to keep a tab on all information related to stocks, like individual transactions, purchases, and stock depletion. This would make ordering from vendors easy.

3. Good POS software is able to convert customer information into actionable data so that an effective customer loyalty program can be devised. The POS system should be able to support adequate loyalty features.

4. A POS software system with an automated purchasing program lets the merchant approach suppliers easily and quickly, and place orders for products when stocks are low.

5. Online access and connectivity from anywhere in the world is an important feature of a POS system, especially for franchises operating across multiple locations.

6. Payment Card Industry (PCI) Agreement will help protect the details of customers' debit/Credit Cards. It will build the trustworthiness of the business and protect it from litigation.

  • A study by Research and Markets expects the self-checkout systems market to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2% from 2021 to 2026.
  • These systems do away with the need for customers to stand in queues inside and outside stores. This minimization of contact and fast checkout works as a boon in a pandemic-spooked world, and ultimately, boosts demand.

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Some More Features of a Good POS Software

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1. Mobile payments on-site are one of the fast-growing trends in the retail business. It allows for quicker checkout and spares the shoppers the trouble of waiting in queues.

The sales representative can promote a product as a shopper is checking out, and if the shopper looks interested, the store representative can sell the product and accept payment quickly before the shopper changes his or her mind. Apart from the convenience it offers customers, it helps boost revenue as well.

2. APOS system should allow easy installation. It should make it possible for any employee to operate it without hassle. The installation should not interrupt existing business and must possess an intuitive interface. It should also allow smooth integration with third-party apps and services.

3. The reporting tools of POS software should be reliable and user-friendly and should provide exhaustive information on a range of business aspects.

4. The system should enable the creation of an account for each employee, which must be password-protected. APOS system with a competent employee management system helps business owners track the performance of each employee and make better human resource decisions.

How to Choose the Right Point Sale Software For Your Business

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1. Needs of the business- Different businesses have different requirements. An entrepreneur should invest in a POS system that is perfectly tailored to the demands of his or her business.

2. Business plan- An operator should also be clear about what he or she wants in the future, and must select a POS system that can evolve and grow with the business. For instance, if they are planning to open branches of their store across different locations, the POS system chosen should come with multi-store support. If they want to offer new perks to customers, the POS system should have a solid and scalable loyalty program.

3. Budget- This is very important, especially for a small business that doesn't want to overpay, or pay for services it does not need. Small businesses would essentially want to keep their costs at a reasonable level.

The price of retail POS system and restaurant POS systems vary from one service provider to another. Subscription fees may differ widely too. Some providers charge a percentage of the revenue of the business.

The cost of POS systems depend on the bouquet of features, number of users, number of locations, the volume of transaction, customer database size, and so on. A vendor offering a free trial and quality product support will allow businesses to make a prudent decision before selecting a POS system.

4. Identify weaknesses of existing systems- Complete knowledge of the pain points of the POS system the business owner is looking to replace will enable him or her to find better alternatives. For instance, if the existing POS system can't accept payment in gift cards, or has faulty card readers, they immediately know what to look for in a replacement.

5. Existing hardware- If the store owner is satisfied with his or her POS hardware, they should look for solutions that work in sync with the current hardware. For instance, if a retail store owner has been operating an iPad POS, the search for POS software should focus on those that work well on an iPad.

6. Existing software- Likewise, if the business owner is happy with their current accounting software, CRM, e-commerce platforms, for instance, they should ensure that the POS solutions integrate with the apps that the business uses.

Top 5 POS Software Solutions for Foodservice Businesses

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1. Plum POS-
This cloud-based POS software solution is one of the best retail products in the restaurant market. It offers POS solutions for small restaurants, food trucks, kiosks, medium-sized restaurants, ghost kitchens, and also custom configured systems for large restaurants.

Plum POS can be set up in minutes and is built for easy use and reduced screen time, resulting in speedy delivery. Real time and in-depth reporting helps the operator make better business decisions.

Plum POS can connect with any device or app through Any Connector, an integration software. Both, Plum POS and Any Connector are available on the restaurant app store, Hub Works. This POS software can integrate seamlessly with other restaurant management software like Plum Kiosk, Plum Digital Signage, and Plum Handheldall available on Hub Worksto dispense with multiple systems and logins.

2. Shopify POS-
It is a POS system based on the iPhone and iPad, and is provided by e-commerce platform Shopify. It allows an entrepreneur to manage his or her entire online and physical business via a single, unified platform. Subscribers receive a POS system complete with a receipt printer, cash drawers, barcode scanner, and Shopify's proprietary card reader, which is powered by Swipe. Operators can use their own hardware, and as long as they are compatible with the Shopify system, integration should not be an issue.

3. TouchBistro-
This product has been created particularly for restaurants and needs only an iPad to get going. Its features include menu and table management, integrated payment processing, cloud-based reporting and analytics, inventory management, unlimited logins for restaurant management and staff. Add-ons include self-serve kiosks, KDS, customer-facing displays, and digital menu boards. This POS system also comes with strong customer support.

4. Revel Systems-
It is an intuitive POS system that integrates with popular bar software and has bar-specific features like age prompts and pre-authorized payments. With the help of Revel Advantage, one can add integrated payment processing for a fee per transaction. Revel offers business integrations with platforms like Digital Pour, Vines OS, Gratuity Solutions, 7Shifts, and Hot Schedules.

5. Lightspeed-
It is a cloud-based POS system that requires no setup or installation fees. The Lightspeed retail POS software can work on a web browser on any desktop/laptop and does well on iPads. Lightspeed is an authorized Apple reseller, and one can buy iPads and other third-party POS hardware from the company. Lightspeed iPads can be used for a variety of functions, including as a mobile register or a stationary POS terminal.

The Lightspeed restaurant POS supports an unlimited number of users, tableside ordering, customer management tools, reporting, and integrations. Add-on options include accounting integration, self-ordering kiosk, delivery integration, a loyalty program, and a loyalty app.

Top 5 Free POS Systems for Businesses on a Tight Budget

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Let's now look at the five best point of sale systems that are free of cost. This list compiled by Fit Small Business should be consulted by businesses that have limited budgets.

1. Square- Square point of sale system is considered to be the best free POS software for small businesses.

2. PayPal Zettle- A software that's ideal for microbusinesses and solopreneurs.

3. Loyverse- A POS software that excels in inventory management.

4. Toast- A POS system that's well-suited for full service restaurants.

5. eHopper- Works well for markets and grocers.

POS Software FAQs

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1. What is the cost of Point Sale (point of sale) software?

This depends upon the complexity of an operator's business needs, and the quantity and number of users. An individual software license costs $1,200 to $2,500, while the cost of a POS terminal can range from $3,000 to $4,000. One may have to shell out a bit more for scanners, cash drawers, printers, and an extended warranty. The return on investment for a POS system is found to be consistently positive. A POS system will help an organization grow, which eventually compensates for the additional cost.

2. Do POS systems have to be industry-specific?

No. While industry-specific software packages are indeed available, many of them don't possess all the features of a general retail software package. So a POS system has to be chosen keeping in mind the requirements of the business.

3. Would the terminal be able to process a sale if the server stops functioning?

POS software that incorporates an offline mode will continue to work even in the event of a server snag. When the connection is restored, offline transaction data can be fed into the system's memory so that they can be used for creating reports.

4. Can data on a current POS be transferred to a new POS software system?

It is possible to transfer the data to the new POS system if the current software supports the export of customer and inventory details. However, each case has to be evaluated individually.

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