The market currently has an endless array of POS systems. But the numbers continue to increase as more competitors enter the POS revolution, most of which present iPad-based solutions. If anything, this has only made finding the best POS system for restaurant, retail, and other customer-centric businesses more challenging.
Many restaurateurs only desire a solution that addresses the challenges of restaurant management. You need a solution that’s easy to use, comes with good customer service, has all the necessary features, and perfectly fits the budget of your restaurant. It may seem like asking for a lot.
However, this journey begins by knowing exactly what you want. Ultimately, you’ll have to do some research, read user reviews, and compare POS systems to narrow down your choices. Here we’ll consider some of the vital factors crucial for picking the best POS system for restaurant businesses.
The Need For The Best POS System For Your Restaurant
The type of technology your restaurant needs to function at an optimal level depends largely on the type of restaurant you are running. Usually, a quick-service restaurant needs a different POS solution than that of a sit-down restaurant. Below, you’ll find the most vital factors to consider:
- Do you need a local backup server?
- Do you have tech-savvy employees?
- Would you prefer ordering at the table or handhelds?
- Do you have a strong and reliable internet connection?
- Would you prefer a system that quickly integrates your existing POS equipment?
- Are you looking for a POS that processes online transactions?
- Would a kiosk-style self-ordering modern POS benefit your restaurant?
These are some of the questions you need to answer. They will help guide you into finding the level of technological sophistication that you need for your POS system. Also, this particular process forms the first stage in defining the kind of system you will choose. However, whether cloud-based or locally installed POS systems, your POS system will affect the cash flow of your business. Therefore, let’s analyze these two options.
Cloud vs. Locally-Installed Restaurant POS System
If you want the best POS system for restaurant businesses, you have to explore all your options. Whether you are the old school type or an early adopter, you will have to choose between two options. If you select the locally-based POS system, your updates and data will only be on a computer within your premises.
On the other hand, the cloud-based POS system saves your data on remote servers and offers regular downloadable updates. Irrespective of which option you choose to go with, you have to keep the following costs under consideration: monthly support fees, cost of hardware bundles, and license fees.
Here we’ve provided an overview of the average costs you have to deal with on each of these options.
Web-based POS software charges monthly fees for continual usage. However, locally-installed restaurant POS software will cost you a one-time license fee between $1000 and $2500.
Both options charge monthly fees; however, cloud-based POS systems charge between $60 to $300/month. By contrast, it’s locally installed counterpart will cost your restaurant between $25 to $100 every month.
Sygnio offers a monthly fee of just $79 and includes all the necessary features, including secure cloud backup and 24/7 customer support. You can find out more in the retail pricing section of our website.
The cost of the hardware bundles of cloud-based POS ranges from $450 to $1500. Meanwhile, a locally-installed POS system will cost you between $2000 to $4000 for a single terminal.
Irrespective of which system you settle for, you need to be mindful of the compatibility of the hardware you are about to buy. In that, they are compatible with other POS systems provided the time comes, and you decided to switch. Usually, the best restaurant point of sale system is cloud-based and comes with compatible hardware.
We advise against long-term contracts and cancellation fees. You want to steer clear of these as much as possible because they can significantly prop up your overall costs. Therefore, you want to keep your options as open as possible. Even though you may have an effective retail business plan, running a business can be unpredictable. Hence, it helps if you have the freedom to make switches and modify the essential parts of your restaurant without any long-term contracts to restrict you.
As you will come to discover, the best POS system of the restaurant business is good on two fronts. These are the software and hardware. Often, these two components come at different costs even though some POS vendors offer hardware bundles and promotions at discounted prices. However, these come with strings attached in the form of long-term contracts and cancellation fees.
Ultimately, it all boils down to whether these offers deliver the essential features your restaurant needs to cut down costs and generate more revenue. Therefore, you need to know which features to look out for in the best restaurant point of sale system.
Features for the Best POS System for Restaurant
Now you’ve narrowed down your options to the two main types of POS systems. It’s time to narrow a bit further based on the features most relevant to the restaurant industry. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this before opening a new restaurant, then all the better.
Because, this process enables you to prioritize the needs of your business when choosing the best POS system for restaurant owners. To begin, it’s useful to rank the features based on “must-have,” all the way to “nice but not a necessity”.
Having done this, you can pinpoint the overall system that’s best for your restaurant. The primary objective is to determine which system comes with all the must-have features for your restaurant.
A sit-restaurant, for instance, needs to be able to split bills or split the cost of entrees/appetizer. Therefore, you must consider how your POS system handles order management. In addition, you need to take into account how your servers, whether locally-based or remote, will discharge order management functions that meet the expectations of your customers.
You cannot completely consider the inventory management feature of the best restaurant POS without thinking about purchase order management, low-stock alerts, vendor tracking, and others. Obviously, the management of your inventory might be more complex than retail stock management. Therefore, using a manual approach might cost you a lot in the long run.
However, if your current system works fine, no problems, nevertheless, you can improve inventory management for both your restaurant and retail business provided you choose wisely.
Some restaurants cannot do without a dedicated reservation management feature. Typically, these features form part of the more advanced restaurant features that only the best POS systems for restaurants provide. You can integrate other systems like OpenTable into your POS system to further your options with restaurant reservation system management through the internet.
Some other essential features you don’t want your POS solution to missing include:
- Online ordering and delivery
- Table management
- Menu creation
- Loyalty programs
- Third-party integrations
Evaluate System Customer Support
Remember to try out the customer support that comes with your POS company. Any POS system you pay for should not only care for you before or during the transaction. The best time to feel the support from your POS vendor is after you’ve closed the deal and secured your point of sale software. But you can’t gamble on the system you are buying. Therefore, you need to assess the customer service of the team prior to purchase.
Below are some questions you want to ask yourself when you do your assessments:
- Do you get customer support quickly enough before your problems affect your restaurant?
- Can you find feature tips, educational information, troubleshooting guidelines, and manuals on their website?
- Provided they have a helpdesk or forum, how active is the portal?
- Can you get support during the working hours of your restaurant?
Keep in mind that the best POS system for restaurant businesses is often an investment. Hence, it covers more than the POS software. Your payment should also cover the assistance needed to run the POS system successfully.
Finally, as you consider which option is the best POS system for restaurant businesses nowadays, always remember to keep the future of your business in mind. Your mind must also process how the best restaurant POS systems will help your establishment to scale and expand. Apart from the above factors, we also recommend using POS system reviews to help with your decision making.