To stay ahead of the highly competitive restaurant industry, businesses must ensure they’re equipping their staff with the latest technology and equipment.
While the cash registers of old may have been enough before, most restaurants utilize a POS system to operate their front and back-of-house. Point-of-sale systems are more than just a way to take payment, though. Now, most POS systems perform various handy functions such as customer analytics, delivery orders, price, etc.
So, we know that POS systems are essential, but how do you choose the right one for your restaurant? Plenty of options exist, so it’s good to prepare some questions and must-haves to narrow down the field. In this article, we’ll be breaking down the different types of POS systems and what you should ask when choosing one for your restaurant.
First things first, what is a POS system? POS stands for point of sale, and a POS system is hardware and software that work in tandem to take payments, track sales and various other functions.
While processing transactions and taking charge is the primary function of a POS system, this is hardly the limit of their capabilities. The right POS system can help a business grow and be more efficient. With tools like inventory management and scheduling, you can keep things organized. With delivery processing tools, you can streamline your food delivery operations. These are just a few things you can do with your point-of-sale system.
Typically, the setup of a point-of-sale system is two-fold. Depending on your needs, there is a payment terminal, or multiple terminals, and software that provides the necessary features and tools for running your restaurant.
Now that we better understand a POS system, let’s talk about why restaurants need them.
POS systems are essential because they’re the modern way to operate a restaurant. Before, many functions running through POS systems had to be performed separately and individually. You took payments through the cash register, posted staff schedules on a bulletin board, wrote down reservations and generally performed manual tasks that could be more efficient with technology.
A POS system can put all this under one umbrella and give you additional features. Your system can accept payments, manage your reservations, process pickup and delivery orders, manage inventory, create staff schedules, keep track of customer loyalty programs, track analytics and much more. With these valuable features at your fingertips, you can make your restaurant more efficient and increase your profits.
However, there are various types of POS systems. Let’s break down the differences so you can make the right choice for your restaurant.
While many companies and brands offer POS systems, that isn’t the breakdown we’ll do today. Instead, we will look at the three different categories of POS systems to help you narrow down your options. Generally, you will choose between a traditional, mobile, or self-serve system. Each has its advantages, but your choice will depend on the type of restaurant you run and your individual preferences.
Once you’ve narrowed down which category of POS you want to utilize, you can start getting into the weeds of which companies offer the best features that fit your budget and other important considerations.
But first, let’s take some time to define these POS types.
A traditional POS system is what most restaurateurs are familiar with at this point. With these systems, you have stationary terminals in your restaurant that are connected to your back office. If you offer counter-service, this is where your payments are processed. Otherwise, your staff members, like your wait staff, will usually interact with these systems. Traditional POS systems can perform functions like:
Traditional POS systems can sometimes be more expensive than other options, especially if they need regular maintenance. They can also be cumbersome to install on occasion. However, if you need something robust and easy for staff to learn, this might be the system you need in your restaurant.
Mobile POS systems have quickly replaced traditional POS options at restaurants that want more flexibility. With tablets and more mobile payment kiosks, restaurant staff doesn’t have to be anchored to a stationary terminal. Mobile POS solutions offer numerous benefits and are often less expensive than traditional options. With a mobile POS solution, restaurants can:
With a Mobile POS solution, restaurants aren’t as tied down as they are with traditional options. Maintenance tends to be much less costly, and the ability to connect to the cloud gives them added flexibility. You can easily connect from anywhere and get the latest updates. You can also integrate other software systems, allowing you to use apps and connect with all aspects of your restaurant. Mobile POS systems continue growing in popularity and may be the best option for restaurants that want to take advantage of their numerous benefits.
Finally, we have self-serve kiosks as the third POS category. With self-serve kiosks, customers can easily order and pay using a touchscreen instead of ordering at the counter. This reduces the need for counter staff, allowing for a more efficient setup and a convenient customer experience. Of course, this solution doesn’t work for every restaurant setup. This is a better option for counter-service-only restaurants, fast casual restaurants, fast food and other restaurant setups where customer interaction can be limited.
The benefits of a self-serve kiosk include:
Again, this solution isn’t ideal for everyone, but it’s worth considering if you have a restaurant where this setup might work. Customers are more willing than ever to use technology in the restaurant experience if it provides convenience and efficiency.
Now that we know the different categories of POS systems available, it’s time to ask questions that will lead you to the best choice for your restaurant. Asking these questions can help you narrow down the crowded field of different solutions and choose one that will increase profitability, improve efficiency, and improve your restaurant's customer experience.
In today’s modern age, your POS system should provide you with data. As you conduct transactions, your system should be collecting data so you can analyze it and make data-driven decisions. Most solutions will also come with reporting tools to get insights from this data rather than sifting through it for hours.
With insightful POS data, you can find out how to make your business more profitable, how to make it more efficient and how to make your customers happier. For instance, your system can collect data on the different food items you sell. If you rarely sell an item with a low-profit margin, you can phase it out of the menu. If you notice you regularly sell out of an item, you can make sure to carry more inventory. With detailed reports and valuable data, you can run a better restaurant.
You may want to consider another option if your POS solution doesn’t offer data reporting and collection. This is essential in the modern business environment. You can’t afford to leave data behind anymore, as most of your competitors will be utilizing data regularly.
As always, the customer experience should be one of your main priorities in the restaurant business. Your POS system should make the customer experience better – not more inconvenient. This means giving your customers an easy and efficient checkout experience. This also means offering multiple payment options, so customers can pay however they want.
If your POS doesn’t improve the customer experience, you should reconsider and choose another solution. A POS should make your restaurant run better, but it won’t matter what you do if customers are unhappy. Most POS systems will improve the customer experience, so this should be the bare minimum when choosing the right solution.
In addition to making things more convenient for your customers, your POS solution should also make things easier for you and your staff. Remember, your POS should make your restaurant more efficient. If the UI is clunky and slow, your staff will become frustrated and you won’t reap all the benefits of your system.
Your staff should easily be able to input orders, process transactions, receive delivery orders and perform the other primary functions they need a POS to do. Back-office employees should be able to access data easily, create staff schedules, access sales reports, and perform vital functions.
Remember that your staff must learn how to use your new POS. It won't be as worthwhile if it’s challenging to know and if training is complicated. It would help to consider intuitiveness and ease of use when choosing the right solution for your restaurant.
Not every restaurant runs the same way. Your POS solution should consider this and offer you numerous customization options so it works how you need it to work. This means allowing you to integrate different software tools, change reporting settings, adjust your UI and more.
Your POS should be customizable to fit your unique needs. When shopping for a solution, it should be easy to see what customization options a solution offers. If you notice that a POS is rigid and inflexible, you may want to consider other options. It’s important that your POS feels comfortable and seamlessly integrates into your current operations. This will make you happier and simplify your restaurant's transition to a new system.
There are more ways for customers to pay than ever. Instead of limiting their payment options to cash and credit cards, your POS system should be prepared to accept the payment options the modern customer prefers. This means allowing electronic payment options, chip cards and more. If you buy online payments for takeout and delivery, it’s helpful for your POS system to make checkout easier by accepting options like Venmo and PayPal.
Certain POS solutions have payment partners, which limits your options. When you’re choosing a solution, you’ll want to consider what payment processors each solution has integrated. Some processors may be limited, and you’ll want to consider what payments you’d prefer to accept in your restaurant. Remember, you don’t have to accept every payment option out there. For instance, it may not be as crucial for you to accept crypto as a payment option if that’s not something you want to implement into your accounting processes. Also, certain companies charge higher fees for using their payment processing services, so that’s worth considering as well.
Technology is an amazing way to enhance the capabilities of your restaurant. As mentioned, many benefits can improve the profitability and efficiency of your restaurant. But there are downsides. Namely, connecting your POS to a server opens you up to data breaches and security issues. However, this shouldn’t be as much of a concern if your POS solution is equipped with the proper data security measures and in compliance with certain standards like the Payment Application Data Security Standards (PA-DSS) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS)
Your POS solution should alert you when your data is at risk and you should be able to reach your customer support if any data breaches occur easily. Data is more important and private than ever, so you want to ensure your solution is keeping your data safe and prioritizing security.
Finally, it’s a good idea to find out the level of customer support your POS solution offers. If you’re going to be relying on your POS for essential business functions, there should be a responsive customer service team to help you when you need assistance or when things go wrong.
Customer support should be easily accessible and offer several options for communications. They should also have easily accessible setup guides, feature guides, and other resources. If a system doesn’t have good customer service, it might not be the best option for your restaurant.
Take the guesswork out of managing your restaurant operations with Superorder. Superorder will help you set up your delivery operations, restaurant POS, online menu, and more. Learn more about the services we offer, and contact us today!
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