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Choosing a POS System for Your Restaurant

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    Written by: Hilary YoungPublished: May 7th, 2024

    Choosing the right Point-of-Sale (POS) system is one of the most important decisions you will make for your restaurant. The right POS will keep everything flowing and moving as it should, but the wrong choice will cost you time and money in the long run.

    With so many different options on the market these days, it can be hard to figure out which POS systems will truly allow you to make smarter decisions for your business. That's why we've done the research for you; there's no need for you to spend hours combing reviews on the internet no matter your size or stage of business.

    Jump to: Our Top Picks

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    Why Use a POS System?

    A POS, or Point-of-Sale, system is a major upgrade from the analog process of managing restaurant operations with pen and paper. More than just a digital cash register, a POS system has the ability to directly communicate orders from waitstaff to the kitchen, track inventory and improve daily operations by giving you access to important data that can help inform decision-making.

    But finding the right POS system for your restaurant is another story.

    What to Consider Before Investing in a POS System for Your Restaurant

    Not all POS systems were created equal. Depending on your type of restaurant, size, and the kind of integrations you need, your choice of POS system will vary.

    For example, food trucks, quick service restaurants and coffee shops don’t have much of a need for a complicated system including multiple handheld devicesbut dine-in restaurants that get busy during peak hours would benefit from having more robust options. 

    Or, for chain restaurants or restaurant groups with multiple locations to manage, considering a more customizable POS solution with a centralized dashboard for easy access to important data could be ideal.

    VETTED AND APPROVED BY BACK OF HOUSE EXPERTS

    Our Top Picks

    Feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there? We’ve got you covered. Our team of experts have identified their top choices for website builders for you. As you review, pay close attention to more than just price–from the level of your own involvement in the process to the other types of integrations that work well with each platform, it’s important to take your restaurant needs into careful consideration before making an investment.

    Any paid partnerships have no influence on our evaluations and suggestions. All our opinions are our own.

    See All Vendors

    GREAT ALL-AROUND SYSTEM FOR SMALL & MEDIUM BUSINESSES
    Toast Logo
    Toast

    Toast’s straightforward interface, array of features, and seamless integration with apps for staff management make it an ideal choice for restaurants wanting an established POS system. It’s easy to use and allows you to scale with one POS provider.

    Payment Processing
    Custom Rates
    Offline Capabilities
    Group 2097 1Available
    Setup
    Remote
    Online Ordering
    Group 2097 1Available
    Icon (2) Features
    • Handhelds and contactless ordering
    • Payroll and team management solutions
    • Collect valuable data for marketing and loyalty programs
    • Customized interface and integrations
    • Robust reporting
    • Continue service during a network disruption with offline mode
    Icon Payment Processing

    Toast will work with you to build a custom payment processing rate that fits your restaurant's unique characteristics and needs. Their hardware and software is equipped with technology to help you prevent fraud and protect your and your customers’ data.

    Integrations Icon Integrations

    Toast offers integrations with almost 90 of the most-used restaurant software solutions for scheduling, accounting payroll, inventory, and delivery. You can explore all Toast integrations to see for yourself.

    Support Icon Support

    Toast offers 24/7 support for all of their restaurant partners, so you can call them at any time to troubleshoot a problem. You can choose between self-service onboarding or onsite + remote onboarding with a dedicated consultant to get started. They also have an online Customer Care center with articles, walkthroughs, system updates, and relevant news to stay up-to-date.

    GREAT FOR MOBILE OR COUNTER SERVICE
    Square
    Square

    Square’s straightforward, powerful interface, detailed and organized onboarding, and low setup costs make it a fantastic choice for cafes, food trucks, and smaller, simpler operations looking to get started with a POS system.

    Payment Processing
    Transaction-based
    Offline Capabilities
    Group 2097 1Available
    Setup
    Remote
    Online Ordering
    Group 2097 1Available
    Features Icon Features
    • Server-friendly interface
    • Mobile POS kit
    • Floor and kitchen management tools
    • Optimize your menu, view live sales, and get
      service reports
    • Menu and online ordering customization options
    • Sync orders from anywhere
    • Live reporting functionality
    • Compatible with iPad and industry kitchen printers, receipt printers, cash drawers & routers
    Icon Payment Processing

    Square uses PCI compliant hardware, end-to-end encryption for payments, and fraud prevention software. They have transparent, set processing fees that apply to each transaction. The processing rate varies depending on the type of transaction.

    Integrations Icon Integrations

    Square’s nearly 40 integrations include management solutions for restaurant operations, delivery and ordering, items and inventory, and accounting and tax. Learn how you can be more efficient and attract customers by exploring their full list of integrations.

    Support Icon Support

    Square gives you plenty of detailed guides to get started with their POS system, or you can enlist 1:1 setup services (in-person or remote) starting at $1,399. For restaurants using the “Free” tier services, customer support is available M-F 6:00am-6:00pm PT. Those in the “Plus” tier have access to 24/7 support via phone or email.

    GREAT FOR HOTEL & NON-COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS
    lightspeed-logo-vector
    Lightspeed Restaurant

    Lightspeed’s flexibility, non-proprietary hardware, and ability to see across multiple touchpoints make it a solid choice if you’re managing multiple restaurant locations.

    Payment Processing
    Flat or Custom Rate
    Offline Capabilities
    Group 2097 1Available
    Setup
    Remote
    Online Ordering
    Group 2097 1Available
    Features Icon Features
    • Offline mode
    • Data for multiple locations from one touchpoint
    • Informative insights about your menu and staff performance
    • Configure screens/menus/floor plans/inventory
      to improve your workflow
    • QR code capabilities
    • Create customer profiles for guests
    • Launch personalized deals and promos based on customer behavior
    Icon Payment Processing

    Lightspeed has a flat rate for integrated payment processing if you’re using the “Starter” or “Essential” packages: 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. For those with a “Premium” or “Enterprise” package, custom rates are available.

    Integrations Icon Integrations

    Lightspeed has 25 integrations for their Restaurant (U Series) POS. You can check out the full list of integrations by software type on their website.

    Support Icon Support

    “Essential” and “Premium” plans receive personalized, 24/7 customer support. They’ll help you set up your menu and hardware during a 1:1 onboarding session.

    GREAT ADD-ONS & INTEGRATIONS
    SpotOn Logo
    SpotOn

    SpotOn is a POS company first, with a large suite of a-la-carte solutions and adaptable hardware that gives restaurants flexibility in their operations.

    Payment Processing
    Custom or Transaction Based
    Offline Capabilities
    Group 2097 1Available
    Setup
    In person
    Online Ordering
    Group 2097 1Available
    Features Icon Features
    • Offline mode
    • Easily integrate with 30+ partners 
    • Digital waitlist and reservations
    • Reporting
    • QR code capabilities
    • Market research capabilities 
    • Seamless transitions with 4G LTE connectivity
    • Online ordering
    • Labor management 
    • 90 fully interactive reports
    • Custom website builds
    Icon Payment Processing

    SpotOn’s standard payment processing rate is 1.99% + 25 cents per transaction. For Reward, international, corporate, and keyed-in cards, the rate is 2.99% + 25 cents per transaction. You can also talk through custom rates with the SpotOn team, and month-to-month contracts mean you aren’t locked in for multiple years and stuck with rate increases.

    Integrations Icon Integrations

    SpotOn has 30+ integration partners that enable online ordering, digital waitlists and reservations, staff management, and reporting. You can check out all of the integration partners on SpotOn’s website.

    Support Icon Support

    SpotOn offers white glove support, 24/7 support, in-person hardware installation, face-to-face staff training, ongoing virtual training, and support for staff and management.

    See All Vendors
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