Restaurant Point of Sale Systems: A Guide to Restaurant POS

July 16, 2023
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If you’re opening a restaurant, one of the most important things you have to consider is the kind of POS system you need. With restaurant point of sale systems, businesses can efficiently place orders and collect payments. 

A POS system for restaurants improves the order fulfillment process thanks to the available features that it includes. Depending on your POS system, these can be inventory management, payment options, and order processing features. 

Restaurant technology is always evolving and helping establishments improve the customer experience. That’s why choosing the right POS system for your needs is important.

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Restaurant Point of Sale Systems: What Are POS Systems?

POS systems, or point of sale systems, are the devices where sales transactions are completed. Different business industries utilize these systems, including those in the restaurant industry

Restaurant point of sale systems include POS software and hardware that allow businesses to manage sales transactions. The best POS system for restaurants includes features that streamline restaurant operations. It’s also possible to track inventory, sales, and employee labor through these systems.

Utilizing POS for restaurants improves customer satisfaction and helps increase profitability and revenue. This is done while decreasing order mistakes, employee stress, employee turnover, and wait times. 

The History of Restaurant POS Systems and POS Software

In the late 1900s, brick and mortar retailers experienced an increase in debit and credit card payments. This led to the development of the first point of sale system and restaurants switching to digital POS hardware.

POS features make it possible for restaurant owners to record sales transactions and generate reports. This way, they can keep up with inventory, make smart buying decisions, and analyze sales data. 

The first restaurant POS systems weren’t as advanced as they are now. In fact, their main advantage was calculating the money that restaurants should deposit in the bank and what they should leave in the register. 

The original point of sale systems couldn’t process credit card transactions. However, they began to incorporate various integration options over time. These include loyalty program integrations, restaurant online ordering, and customer relationship management. 

Key Takeaway: Restaurant point of sale systems make it easy for restaurants to stay up to date with things going on at their establishment. However, it all comes down to the kind of restaurant POS system you need.

Essential POS System Features

All restaurant point of sale systems have different features based on their brand and operating system. It’s important to evaluate your restaurant’s needs before investing in a POS system.

Here are five essential POS system features you should consider for your software:

  1. Inventory management. Each inventory control manager should follow a strict inventory control process. With the right POS system, all you have to do is scan a product’s UPC code or SKU number to input it into your inventory. Most POS systems will also have real-time inventory updates based on which items are sold. They also allow you to set a reorder point to automatically replenish your inventory. 
  2. Online ordering integration. Online ordering for restaurants and digital menu ordering is what many clients look for these days. It allows customers to place orders from wherever they want. 
  3. Table management. Having efficient business operations is essential for restaurant success. Restaurant point of sale systems make it easy for businesses to manage waitlists and table reservations all on one platform. 
  4. Sales reporting. With a POS system for restaurants, you can get real-time performance updates thanks to analytical reporting features. These reports make inventory forecasting easy and allow you to evaluate the performance of different types of menus. You can also use the information for demand planning, evaluating restaurant seasonality, and reducing labor cost. This is ideal to do during the slow season as opposed to the busy season
  5. Customer management. POS systems can store basic customer information with customer management integrations. This kind of basic information includes client names and contact data. With this information, restaurants can personalize customer dining experiences by recommending alternatives or offering exclusive promotions. 

Food Truck POS System Features

When opening a food truck business, you may assume that you don’t need the standard restaurant technologies that a brick-and-mortar restaurant would. However, a food truck still requires a POS system for optimal business efficiency. 

The five POS features your food truck business should have are: 

  1. Sales reporting. Restaurant point of sale systems include analytical and reporting integrations. These make it possible for businesses to track their performance in real-time. With these reports, you can look into how menu items are performing, and you can plan ahead for seasonality
  2. Inventory management. Though a food truck’s inventory is likely to be smaller than that of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, proper management is still key. A POS system will help you keep track of what comes in and out of your inventory. This can help you reduce shrinkage and allow you to focus on serving your customers. 
  3. Menu management. As a food truck business owner, you might want to update or change your menu regularly. With a POS system, you can easily add, remove, or update your menu as you desire. You can incorporate a seasonal menu, offer a happy hour menu, dessert menu, or food and wine pairing menu
  4. Solid Internet connection. It’s likely that your food truck will be on the go. Due to that, you need to ensure you have a solid Internet connection. This way, your POS system, and similar efficient business systems can still function and keep business operations running. 
  5. Loyalty program integrations. Having a loyalty program will encourage customers to come back. A restaurant loyalty program will act as a customer incentive by offering exclusive discounts, promotions, menu items, and/or points. 
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What Is a Mobile Point of Sale System (mPOS)?

A mobile point of sale system or mPOS is a mobile device that allows businesses to complete sales transactions through a piece of software, such as an app. Mobile devices can be tablets or smartphones, and they perform the same actions as a cash register. 

All restaurants can benefit from having a mobile point of sale system. It allows restaurants to increase their sales and retain customers while using mobile devices. This decreases upfront costs while still allowing restaurants to take advantage of the perks of having a POS system. 

4 Benefits of an mPOS System

One of the main goals of a restaurant business is to quickly greet and serve customers. This is true if it’s a fine dining restaurant, Michelin star restaurant, or a quick service restaurant. An mPOS makes this possible.

Four benefits of a restaurant mPOS system include: 

  1. Ease of use. Bar staff, wait staff, and servers can easily learn how to use an mPOS system because of how straightforward it is to work with. The system allows users to quickly process transactions, turn tables, and improve operational efficiency. 
  2. Improved customer service. Customer service is a big part of the restaurant industry. mPOS systems help improve customer satisfaction by offering the chance to sign up for loyalty programs. The system provides access to customer information and profiles during the checkout process. This allows you to provide customers with a more personalized checkout experience. 
  3. Reduced setup costs. A standard POS system will require different hardware installations which can result in high costs. However, an mPOS only requires you to download an app or set up software by contacting your POS provider. No additional hardware is required because you can use existing mobile devices. This will allow you to reduce restaurant monthly expenses and overhead expenses
  4. Integration ability. Modern POS systems allow you to integrate restaurant inventory software, accounting software, and order management software. This will help you keep up with business performance and operations. 

How to Choose a POS System

There are a lot of different POS systems on the market which can make choosing one difficult. To find the best POS for restaurants, it’s important to evaluate your needs and compare them to what each system can offer. 

These are four POS system features that you want to make sure your system includes:

  1. Data and reporting. POS data and reports will provide you with insights regarding how your business is performing. This way, you can look into the metrics and monitor performance at all times, even when you’re away using cloud-based technology. 
  2. Accessibility. Cloud-based POS systems allow you to have remote access to your insights. With these insights, you can be in the loop on how things are going at your restaurant, even when you’re not physically there. 
  3. Ease of use. It’s important to make sure that all employees can easily use the POS system. Not only during employee training but also during daily operations. It will also allow you to provide a more pleasant experience for your customers. 
  4. Extensibility. Restaurant point of sale systems should have all the functions that your business needs. This includes different payment options, order management, inventory tracking, and sales performance. It should also be able to easily integrate new features as you need them. 

6 Point of Sale Reports Your Restaurant Needs

A point of sale report refers to the business data your POS software collects and organizes to provide you with information regarding customers, inventory, sales, and employee management. With this information, restaurants can learn about their best-performing menu items, inventory forecasting, and restaurant profit margin

Six POS reports your restaurant needs includes: 

  1. Restaurant sales report. All transactions go through the POS system making it easy for you to track them. You can get information regarding total customer visits, net sales, payment methods, service types, average table turn time, and gratuities. 
  2. Inventory report. Restaurant point of sale systems should generate inventory reports regarding low-stock items, in-stock items, purchase orders, and food waste. This way, you can keep up with inventory and know when it’s time to replenish. 
  3. Employee performance report. It’s possible to track employee performance through your POS reports. With these reports, you can make informed staffing decisions, control payroll expenses, and reduce labor costs, especially during a restaurant labor shortage
  4. Customer loyalty report. This report can provide insight into how many people are part of your loyalty program. They can also provide information about active gift cards and customer data. You can use this data to determine how effective your loyalty program is. 
  5. Customer relationship management report. It’s common to collect customer information through POS systems. A customer relationship management (CRM) report allows you to look into this information. You can learn about their order history, contact information, and common behavior. This helps generate the proper restaurant marketing strategies
  6. Real-time report. Getting real-time updates regarding your restaurant is crucial. With a real-time POS report, you can know how many customers are at your restaurant at any given time. It can also provide information regarding which tables are currently taken. 
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Apple POS System vs. Android POS 

Restaurants rely on their operating systems and hardware to ensure that things run smoothly. System glitches and user errors can leave a bad impression on your customers. That’s why it’s essential to choose the right hardware and operating system for your POS system. 

POS hardware refers to tablets, printers, and payment devices. In a restaurant, POS hardware refers to the tablets that employees can take orders on as they move from one table to the next. 

The POS software refers to the operating system that businesses use. Common operating systems include iOS, Android, and Windows. 

Customization Options

Developers have control over Android software and the app experience thanks to Android’s open mobile operating system. Apple, on the other hand, restricts developer flexibility when it comes to app experience customization. 

Restaurant point of sale systems should be flexible because no two restaurants are the same. This includes their menu types, checkout process, and overall restaurant style. 

Android POS systems, unlike Apple POS systems, offer customizable experiences. Apple POS apps make it so that restaurants are forced to fit into their workflows based on what Apple supports. 

Hardware and Software Integration

It’s essential to have the right software and hardware for your POS system in order for devices to communicate without glitches or lagging. This allows seamless integration processes.

Apple POS software is only compatible with the iPad, which is their hardware. The iPad and iOS software were designed to work together which is what makes integration easy. 

With an Android operating system, restaurants have more options to choose from when it comes to compatible hardware. Android operating systems are compatible with tablets made by manufacturers like Samsung, Lenovo, and Huawei.

Customer Support

Apple offers quick and easy customer support services for their customers. In fact, Apple Stores and Apple-certified sellers are available in most cities which makes taking care of repairs simple.

Android’s customer support lags compared to Apple’s support. This is because the support and warranties vary depending on the device’s manufacturer. There are many tablets out there which makes it harder to repair the device when necessary. 

Customer Facing Display: What Is It?

A customer facing display refers to a monitor or tablet at checkout that shows current transaction information to the customer. The information that is most commonly displayed includes total purchases, pricing, sales tax, payment prompts, and payment confirmation. 

Unlike a self-ordering kiosk, customers don’t interact with customer facing displays. Instead, they’re used as a visual confirmation.

These displays are part of your POS system and use the same POS software. This means that whatever your employees see on their screen is what customers see on the customer facing display. 

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5 Benefits of a Customer Display for Restaurants

Improving the customer experience is crucial, especially in the restaurant industry. With customer facing displays, you increase trust between your restaurant and your customers by offering transaction transparency. 

Five benefits of customer facing display systems for restaurants are: 

  1. Quick ordering process. Fast ordering processes improve customer experiences. A customer facing display provides customers with the ability to confirm their order as it’s being placed. This decreases wait times and keeps lines moving quickly. 
  2. Loyalty program sign-ups. Customer facing display systems are customizable, and you can promote your loyalty program on them. By showing the loyalty program to each customer, you increase the chances of having more people sign up for it. This is a way for restaurants to attract repeat customers. 
  3. Digital receipts. Restaurants have the ability to provide their customers with an option as to how they want to receive their receipts. This can be done through email or text message, as opposed to a printed receipt. 
  4. Increase in customer engagement. When waiting in line, it’s likely that you want to make the time go by faster than it is. Customers can engage with a customer facing display system while they wait. This is possible by promoting your loyalty program through the display screen, showcasing social media profiles, and promoting current events. 
  5. Tip increases. Most wait staff and servers rely on tips to make their money. Even quick service restaurants might deserve a tip, and it’s possible to incorporate one through the customer facing display. The display will provide tip suggestions based on your purchase total. 

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