If you’re getting ready to open your first restaurant, you’re most likely on the hunt for a Point of Sale (POS) system. With so many options on the market, you might find it overwhelming trying to narrow it down to the one that fits your business’ needs.
The best restaurant POS software should be packed with features that will set up your restaurant for success by making your day-to-day operations more efficient. This article will help guide you in the right direction. Let’s dive in, shall we?
What is Restaurant POS Software?
First and foremost, let’s define POS software so we’re all on the same page. Point of sale software is the technology that enables businesses to ring up, calculate, and track transactions at the point of purchase.
The following are the three primary types of POS software:
- Traditional POS software
- Cloud-Based POS software
- Hybrid POS software
Before cloud-based computing became commonplace, on-premise POS software applications were the norm. With this setup, the point of sale software resides on a local server within the restaurant’s four walls. The POS stations throughout your business are networked to this server to perform daily functions.
This arrangement also means that if you want to access reports, make changes to the menu or pricing, you have to be physically at the restaurant location.
These days, cloud-based POS systems are all the rage. This type of software stores data on servers in a remote location — a.k.a. “the cloud.” The data is accessible through an internet connection using a device such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. In simple terms, this means business owners can access data on the go or at their physical business location. The always-connected nature of these systems rely on a stable internet connection in order to properly function.
This software solution is the best of both worlds — cloud-based and traditional software. It utilizes a local server connection like traditional POS software for always-on connectivity and a cloud-based connection for remote reporting and management. Typically, transactions at the point of sale will hit the local server first, and the local server will send the data to the cloud.
This setup is ideal if you’re in a location with unreliable internet service, or if you want to protect yourself against the chance of an outage. If your internet goes offline, your POS system will continue to operate using the local server.
Top Features of Restaurant POS Software
Not all POS solutions are created equal. Therefore, it’s imperative as a business owner to do your part and conduct a little bit of research to find the best solution for your business needs.
These are the main features of any quality restaurant point of sale system that’ll help you streamline your business operations and provide top-notch payment solutions.
In addition to processing payments at the point of purchase, POS systems help business owners manage their day-to-day operations beyond the point of sale.
The top POS management features include:
- Employee management
- Inventory management
- Menu customization
- Customer management
Employee management is a must for businesses of all sizes. With the right software, your POS system should be able to clock employees in and out and track shift data such as sales, orders, and tips. Additionally, employee scheduling features or integrations would help you streamline your weekly labor planning.
No business owner wants to revert to tracking inventory by hand. Your POS system should be equipped with top-notch inventory management capabilities such as automatic reordering triggers when a particular item gets below a predetermined threshold.
Every restaurant POS system should have this feature, and it’s essential to find a user-friendly one. Find a software program that allows for real-time menu adjustments such as daily specials, happy hour pricing, or holiday selections.
Customers are your bread and butter. Your restaurant POS software should track customer purchase history, loyalty accounts, and contact information about your diners. You can tailor your marketing efforts around their buying habits and preferences, so there’s a better chance they’ll be successful.
Online Ordering Capabilities
As online ordering becomes more popular, you’ll want POS software that offers this type of integration in order to support this growing order type.
Online ordering has become one of the main ways consumers can still get their fix from their favorite restaurants without dining in. While being more efficient for your restaurant staff, online ordering creates more convenience for your customers.
Curbside and Tableside Payments
For maximum efficiency and to support the growing takeout market, a mobile payment solution is a great way to enable both tableside and curbside payment.
For guests who decide to dine-in, tableside ordering capabilities ultimately reduce the amount of contact with employees to create a safer experience for all parties involved. Not only does it minimize contact, but it also expedites table turns and offers a more convenient and efficient dining experience. For restaurants operating at reduced capacity for the duration of the pandemic, this is a game-changer.
This same solution can be used for takeout orders when customers want to pay curbside. This can be used in combination with an online ordering solution to facilitate an efficient takeout operation.
Multiple Payment Options
It’s a no-brainer that your POS software should have integrated payment processing. Customers’ payment preferences vary, so you want to ensure that you can accept and easily keep track of various payment methods.
- Contactless payments
As social distancing and touch-free environments become the new standard, it’s no wonder that contactless payments are also on the rise. Restaurateurs will want to find a POS system that can support NFC transactions like Apple Pay and Google Pay using a mobile device like SkyTab.
EMV cards have a small “chip” that protects you and your customers from fraudulent transactions. Having POS software for your restaurant that accepts EMV payments ensures maximum data security for your customers.
While you’re thinking about payments, it’s important to note that your payment solution should be PCI-compliant to secure each transaction made at your restaurant.
Reporting and Analytics
POS Reporting features are arguably some of the most essential features in any point of sale software. These capabilities ultimately help business owners drive success by giving them a deeper understanding of their business’s strong points, as well as their weaknesses.
These are three of the most common reports your POS system should have:
- Sales reports
- Employee reports
- Inventory reports
Sales reports will expose trends across your restaurant such as peak sale times, total sales, best-selling items, and end of day summaries.
This type of report provides a summary of your employees’ hours, performance, payouts, and their average table turn time.
These reports show several data points, such as the actual value of your entire inventory, as well as tracking profit margins and item quantities.
Table Management and Reservations
If you operate a full-service restaurant, reservations and table management are must-have features.
Your restaurant point of sale software should allow you to:
- Create and adjust floor plans to help maintain social distancing protocols. If you have multiple seating areas such as a dining room and an outdoor patio, make sure the POS system can manage all of them.
- Track which tables are occupied, how many guests are at each table, and what tables are waiting for guests to be seated.
- You’ll also want to be able to accept reservations through different channels. For instance, phone-in reservations and guests reserving tables online are the most common methods. You should be able to manage your waitlist in the same place as your reservations to give you an accurate picture of all your customers.
Customer Loyalty Programs
A customer loyalty program or rewards program is key to building lasting relationships with your patrons. You’ll want your restaurant POS software to be able to create new customer profiles at the point of sale and track existing customers when they make a purchase. Using your point of sale system, you can create and manage successful loyalty programs that’ll keep guests coming back.
- Customer database
- Loyalty points
With a customer database, you can store necessary contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and even birthdays for special promotions. Use this data to build well-rounded customer profiles so you can leverage more personalized marketing tactics and promotions based on their shopping habits.
With the right software, your POS system can keep track of customers’ purchases and use this information to reward them with points based on buying habits. Restaurant POS software with loyalty program features should be able to track customer activity and the rewards they receive for each purchase. These points can then be redeemed for discounts or free items.
Your restaurant POS system should be versatile and scalable. Choosing software that allows you to integrate with an array of third-party applications establishes a well-rounded user experience. You can integrate your POS system to various solutions such as online ordering, reservations, staff scheduling, loyalty apps, and much more.
For example, suppose you’re looking to enhance your online ordering and delivery experience. In that case, you can integrate with apps such as DoorDash and Uber Eats. With the right software, integrating with these apps removes the hassle and expense of managing a separate tablet for these third-party services. Customers can order directly from your menu on DoorDash, and the order is sent directly to the POS system and KDS for preparation without any of your employees taking steps to key in the order and payment.
POS Support and Customer Service
Finding restaurant POS software with all the bells and whistles you need to run your business successfully is just the first step. It’s just as important to choose a software provider that will offer you more than just flawless software — you also want exceptional service.
- 24/7 remote support to help you with any hiccups you might encounter with the software.
- Complimentary training to successfully set up your software and utilize it to its full potential.
- Software maintenance to ensure the software is up to date and running smoothly at all times.
The Bottom Line
There might not be such a thing as “the absolute perfect” restaurant POS software, but there is one that’s perfect for your unique business. Do your research to find software that’s equally feature-rich as it is easy to use, and you’ll set your restaurant up for success.