Most Commonly Asked Questions about Restaurant POS system
If you’re running or working at a restaurant, and not using a restaurant POS system, you’re missing out. Restaurant POS systems simplify the process of managing your sales and inventory and make it much easier to track, analyze, and project your financials and how well your business is doing.
A good POS system serves as the backbone of your restaurant operations on a daily basis. And, as technology continues to advance, more and more features are being added to POS systems to help make life easier for restaurant management. Learn more about restaurant POS systems, and all they have to offer, in our guide below.
What are POS Systems and How Can Restaurants Benefit from them?
A restaurant POS system, or point of sale system, is a software and hardware package that helps you take orders from customers, route orders through the kitchen and billing process, manage your receipts, track back to inventory, and analyze the profitability of dishes and menu choices, and much more.
It semi-automates the process of reordering and inventory management, food costing, markdowns and discounts, and marketing efforts. The top restaurant POS systems enable business owners and floor staff to do their jobs much more easily, and it enables more visibility, accountability, and streamlining of business operations.
The net result of all of these is that restaurant POS systems tend to improve overall business performance. Waste and loss are reduced, out of stock items are reduced, inventory usage is more closely tracked, just-in-time ordering and replenishment are possible, and there’s greater consistency in costing, markdowns, discounts, comps, and coupons from marketing efforts. That means you can focus on running your business, and use the technology of restaurant POS systems to supplement a lot of typical “back office” tasks.
Competitive Advantage of Using the Best Restaurant POS Systems
Statistics indicate that well over half (63%) of restaurants and eating establishments today don’t have a restaurant POS system in place. They still use cash registers, credit card processors, Excel spreadsheets, and manual tickets.
While those systems may work, they are not linked in any way and represent a lot of room for error. The lack of linking means trends are hard to spot, and a lot of manual work needs to be done to relate sales to inventory to pricing to profits and so on.
The best restaurant POS systems can help set your restaurant apart, by offering competitive advantages including:
- Growing your business
- Better understanding customers, preferences, demographics, and needs
- Succeeding in a highly competitive market
- Improving your ability to serve more customers with the same staffing levels and expenses, meaning more profit
- Creating gift card and marketing programs to build brand loyalty
- Saving more money by cutting down on inventory waste and spoilage
- Dynamically addressing trends and patterns in your sales, and adjusting your offerings, costing, and inventory accordingly
All of this and more is possible with the top restaurant POS systems. And, in most cases, they’re designed to be easy to implement, easy to learn for your staff, and easy to use on a daily basis.
Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Restaurant POS System
There are many different brands and vendors of restaurant POS systems out there today, all with different feature sets, different levels of detail, and different associated hardware requirements.
They also all generally have different levels of support associated with them, and different layers of complexity depending on the type of restaurant business you run. Ultimately, you’ll have to choose a restaurant POS system that makes sense for you and your business.
While cash management is a key feature of most POS systems, that is hardly the only consideration. Some of the factors to consider when comparing and contrasting top restaurant POS systems include:
- Speed of transactions
- Ease of use for your employees and staff
- Technical support availability and requirements/capabilities
- Who the target user group is (e.g., if you run a small mom and pop pizza joint, you probably don’t want a system designed for a multi-store national chain)
- Power backup (so you can still close out checks and don’t lose orders/receipts if the power goes out)
- Data security
- Integrations with existing software or hardware for accounting, ordering, and inventory
The best restaurant POS system for your business may be quite different from the best choice for a competitor. You want to maximize the potential for your business and integrate what you already use with the new software, rather than create a massive monolithic system that requires significant operational changes. The goal is to make things easier for you and your staff, not to create a new hurdle to smooth restaurant operations.
What Hardware Do I Need for a Restaurant POS System?
Most POS systems will offer the associated hardware required for their systems to work as part of the overall purchase package. Alternatively, some may integrate well with off-the-shelf brands of various hardware elements that are common to many restaurants.
You’ll need to check when you vet POS system suppliers as to whether or not you’ll need to replace existing equipment, if they offer equipment that you don’t have, or if you’ll need to make a separate purchase of some hardware to make the system work. Critical hardware components that are part of most restaurant POS systems include:
- Tablets and monitors, which may be portable for servers to use table-side, or at base server stations and in the kitchen – some even have table-top kiosks that can be used for order-taking, payment processing, tipping, and even children’s entertainment while waiting on orders
- Credit card reader(s) to process customer checks
- Ticket/receipt printer(s) to process orders to the kitchen, as well as provide customers with receipts of their transaction
- Cash drawer/cash register for accepting cash payments, tips, etc.
- Computer(s) can typically be integrated, whether laptop or desktop, with the outputs from your POS system to integrate with accounting software and inventory software, including popular choices like QuickBooks that are in use by a large portion of the small business/food service industry today
What types of Restaurant POS Systems are there?
In general, there are 4 types of POS systems. Some POS services offer all 4, while others may only have one or two available.
Tablet POS systems utilize tablet devices like iPads or Google Pixels. Tablet POS systems are popular for large and complex retailers and often include additional features aside from just being a payment system. They can also be used to take orders in a restaurant, keep track of inventory, manage employee schedules, and more.
Mobile POS systems are best for on the go retailers such as service repair-people, locksmiths, food trucks, and more. They usually offer fewer features than tablet POS systems, but will likely come complete with a receipt printer and credit card swiper.
Terminal POS systems are much larger pieces of hardware, often built into the check out section of a large retailer. They are able to complete the entire payment process and may offer additional features such as inventory management that will automatically deduct an item from inventory once it has been purchased.
Think of the self-checkout line at your supermarket and how much time it saves you. That's the essence of a self-service POS system. It is usually not integrated with a tablet or mobile POS and is designed to be simple and easy to use.