The Point of Sale (POS)  solution is the most crucial software for your restaurant that helps you to manage and track your restaurant operations efficiently. Modern Restaurant POS technology can take care of almost all your restaurant management needs with features such as automatic billing, inventory management, real-time reporting, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

The restaurant POS market is fast evolving and there are tonnes of options in the market with varying capabilities and prices. It often becomes difficult for restaurant owners to keep pace with the latest in point-of-sale technology and select a system that is flexible and can adapt to their growing business needs. In this article, we will help you to choose the best restaurant POS solution.

What Does a Restaurant POS System Do?

 Selecting a Restaurant POS System

The main function of a restaurant point of sale system is to accept customer orders, send orders from customers to kitchen staff, and process payment. However, with the recent advances in technology, POS systems come with many advanced features:

  • Menu Management
  • Inventory Tracking
  • Analytics & Reporting
  • Employee/Labor Management
  • Table & reservation Management
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • Loyalty/Rewards Program Management
  • Online Ordering and Delivery

Must-Have Features In a Restaurant POS system

The nature and size of your restaurant business ultimately determine which POS solution will work best for you. However, there are certain key features that help you to maximize efficiency. 

 Selecting a Restaurant POS System
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1. Ease of Use

One of the first things that you need to consider is the time and resources required for the on-site installation of the POS solution. Most efficient solutions nowadays are more or less plug n play. The system should be up and running in under an hour. 

You should also ensure that the solution is fast and intuitive. Remember that your staff will be using the system on a regular basis and they should find it easy to use and efficient. It should be easy to set up and update your menu and create coupons or take orders.

2. Flexible Payment Options

With changing times, more and more customers do not carry cash and prefer to have options while paying their restaurant bills. Your POS solution should have multiple payment options including credit card, debit cards, and also support virtual wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. It should allow you to manually edit items and modifiers in an order, cancel charges or carry out operations such as splitting or merging invoices between two people/tables.

3. Real Time Reporting And Analytics

Real-time reports and analytics can give you a clear picture of your restaurant business and help you in making insightful decisions. A good restaurant POS system allows you to view and compare reports for selected time periods enabling you to track growth and build your strategies over time. 

Most systems come with pre-built reports for all incoming and outgoing expenses of your restaurant including

  • Store summary
  • Sales report
  • Online order report
  • Special pricing
  • Labor and inventory reports
  • Sales comparisons between locations or across time periods
  • Peak performance by day of the week, holidays, and promotions
  • Trends of sales vs. guests by day and top-selling item reports

However, if you are looking for more, you should opt for systems that allow you to generate custom reports according to your specific requirements and allow third-party integrations for more granular reporting. Auditing reports are also a useful addition to help you keep track of your sales and taxes.

4. Offline Availability

Your POS solution should be able to function smoothly and efficiently even when it is not connected to the internet. It enables you to accept credit card transactions safely and securely and continue normal operation even if your internet crashes and updates all data on the system as soon as your internet services resume.

5. Customer Data Recording

To distinguish themselves from the crowd, restaurants must focus on delivering experiences that are specifically tailored to the needs and preferences of individual customers. Gathering customer data is the first step towards providing a personalized experience to your customers and streamline your marketing messages. For instance, insights about popular menu items and coupon/offer redemption can help you optimize your menu and specials. By analyzing customer purchase history you can gain valuable insights including customer preferences, preferred time, and day to order or preferred mode of payment. This data helps you to craft targeted marketing messages. 

Your POS solution should help you to save, organize, and analyze customer data. 

6. Third-Party Integrations

You may already be using several technologies at your restaurants such as order, payroll management solutions, online ordering, or loyalty programs. You should choose a POS system that can be easily integrated with these tools to make efficient use of your existing technology and to ensure that you don’t have to manually transcribe data from one system to another, In either case, the ideal POs solution should be open to third-party integrations.

7. Inventory Control

There is a definite advantage in having the inventory control feature in your restaurant POS. Everyone in the restaurant industry is well aware of the problems with manual tracking and forecasting of inventory. A regular inventory management process can help you keep track of your individual inventory items and control and manage to eliminate pilferages/wastages.

8. Table and Reservation Management

Although not an essential feature, it is undoubtedly desirable to have Table and reservation management functionality in your POS.

The Table and Reservation management feature in your POS helps you provide a better customer experience by allowing customers to reserve tables online or through mobile apps. Customers can also leave reservation notes like food preferences and allergies making it easier for front staff to serve tables.  

In addition to providing a smoother dining experience, the table and reservation management also enables you to track  and manage reservations easily and effectively and streamline operations at the back end by enabling you to perform a diverse range of activities including:

  • Seat customers faster
  • Track guest status to provides an accurate estimation of wait times
  • Ensure faster table turns 
  • Enable front staff to assign tables
  • Optimize floor plans
  • Track staff performance

9. Employee & Payroll Management

Managing restaurant employees can be challenging. One of the best features of a good solution is employee and payroll management which can help you manage your labor efficiently. Ensure your restaurant POS system includes features that allow you to

  • Manage or create new employees or set wages
  • Track employee hours and calculate both regular and overtime pay.
  • Control permissions so you can decide the nature of access or permission you want to provide to different categories of your employees.
  • Capability to run payroll.  

10. Additional Features and Functionalities

While these are a few of the key POS features to look for, several additional great additions to the package include:

  • Reliable customer service and technical support
  • Cloud-enabled features for effortless access from multiple locations
  • Integrated feedback mechanism An integrated feedback mechanism enables you to send feedback forms to your customer’s mobile phones after they complete their meals. 
  • Security features
  • Customer Relationship Management CRM integrated with your POS allows you to send customized marketing messages to your customer base.  

How To Select A Restaurant POS?

1. Establish Your POS Needs To Create A Personalized Checklist

You may already have a budget in mind, but before you consider costs you should create a list of features that you definitely want and another list of additional features that you would like to have after considering associated costs.  The items in this list will primarily depend on the nature and concept of your restaurant. Here is a generic list:

Must Have
  • Simple User Interface
  • Flexible payment processing
  • Gift cards management
  • Multiple payment Option like split and merge checks
  • Offline Credit Card processing
  • Insightful reporting
  • Reliable customer support
Nice To Have

Now that you have your checklist in place, you can start comparing solutions and evaluating costs.

2. What’s the Cost of the Right POS System for Your Restaurant?

There are two main categories for restaurant POS costs; the upfront costs and the recurring costs. 

Upfront Costs include 

  • Hardware costs
  • Setup, installation, and training costs
  • Software licensing costs
  • Cost of Additional features
a. Hardware costs

includes cost of all hardware that you will need to acquire for setting up the POS solution and depends on type of POS you are planning to purchase

  • Cloud-Based Systems: These systems store data on remote servers and you can access data from anywhere provided you have an internet connection.
  • Legacy Systems: Legacy systems store data on internal back-office servers and run on a closed internal network.
  • Front of House equipment: This includes equipment such as terminals, stands, credit card readers, printer, guest-facing display, and others
  • Backend Equipment such as A kitchen display system.
  • Internet hardware such as routers, modem, and cables.

You may have some of these products in place so you need to consider the cost of acquiring the others.

b. Software Costs

It’s necessary to have reliable, durable POS hardware, but it is equally important to invest in robust software that is updated on a regular basis to save you time and money in the long run. 

Cloud-based POS systems usually have a monthly or yearly subscription fee and it may vary between vendors. Legacy-on premise software, on the other hand, usually charges you per station/user basis. Here are a few things you should look for in a POS software

  • How often is the software update and does the subscription include free updates and feature releases?
  • Does the software subscription include prompt customer support?
c. Cost of additional features:

This includes the cost of software integrations and any additional features that you want to purchase such as online ordering, delivery app, team management system, and loyalty program.

Ongoing Costs

  • System maintenance
  • Updates and upgrades
  • Monthly or annual service fees
  • Credit Card processing rates

3. Compare Options

With a budget in mind, you can start comparing the options available in the market. Take the opinion of your friends in the restaurant business to narrow down your list. Always ask for free demos to help you understand the features and determine the ease of use. Remember to take the opinion of your staff and management before finalizing on any system.