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Point of Sale (POS) Systems for Restaurants

POS systems are the “technological heart of a restaurant” according to Michael Oshins, a faculty member at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration.

And yet, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2019 technology report, “Thirty-two percent of restaurant operators consider their operations to be lagging when it comes to technology use.”

So, how is your restaurant’s heartbeat?

Signs your business is ready to update to a new POS

Are your system procedures, even routine ones, taking longer than they have in the past?

Is it difficult or complicated to train new employees on your restaurant’s current system?

Have customers had to wait longer after the meal because of your payment system?

Do payment authorizations fail? Do legitimate payments get rejected completely?

Does your system glitch when you change prices, menu items, and other data?

Is it difficult to customize orders on the fly?

Do you and your managers need to be physically at your restaurant to access your system?

Start with payment processing

Recent restaurant technology forecasts reveal payment processing is top-of-mind for restaurant operators with 25 percent saying it’s the most important technology for the future of restaurant development. From facial recognition to contactless, mobile, and chip credit card readers, your customers are seeing countless technology-enabled payment options.

Mobile payments, like Android Pay and Apple Pay, are increasingly utilized by millennial diners. You should look at both hardware and software that accommodate your staff size and customer base. Consider your needs as well as the expectations of your guests.

For example, a large, high-volume restaurant with outside seating that turns tables quickly might benefit from the efficiency tablet-based payment systems offer. The National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast revealed that 63 percent of consumers are open to tableside payment, so it’s worth the time to investigate the options.

Consider the cost-benefits

We won’t lie to you; good technology isn’t cheap. But research shows that a solid POS system pays for itself, and then some. The system technology is a major investment. This often means restaurants hold on to their current restaurant POS system even when it’s out-of-date, causing issues for staff and customers alike. The good news? Restaurant Owner’s 2017 POS report showed a decrease in average costs from $18,000 in 2012 to $13,344 in 2017.

Choose software that works for you

Recent trend reports show an uptick in “foodie culture” and a subsequent rise in the number of consumers eating at restaurants. That’s great news, but those same reports note shifting diner demographics, meaning that millennials continue to play an intricate role in reshaping the food industry. What does this mean? You need to modernize.

Today’s POS systems do much more than take payments. Many of them include all-in-one management solutions that work in tandem to help you personalize your guest experience and stand out in an increasingly competitive market. They can track inventory so you don’t have to tell a patron you’re out of something. They enhance your marketing with CRM capabilities that help you develop repeat business, an efficient ordering process, and online reservation platforms that make it easy to get a seat at your restaurant. In short, today’s POS systems, especially cloud-based solutions, can help you optimize restaurant operations and plan your marketing strategy.


You still need a cash drawer, for now, but it’s time to move past manual gear and update your archaic equipment. Warning — there are a lot of options. Most importantly, you need to make sure your hardware is compatible with your POS system.

Many vendors offer dual packages with hardware and POS systems working in tandem. Regardless of what your salesperson says, you can shop around. A small business, with 20 seats, probably doesn’t need five iPads and four receipt printers. Look for hardware that suits your restaurant’s needs.

Features to assess in a restaurant POS system

EMV card readers & data security

According to Visa, “Chip technology helped reduce card-present counterfeit payment fraud by 80 percent.”

Customization capabilities

Face it, your customers will request modifications to your menu. Choose a point of sale system that makes it easy to customize orders.

Reporting and analytics

Make informed business decisions with real-time sales reports, financial forecasts, and predictive purchasing capabilities in the cloud.

Software integration

Look for a system that does more for less. Many POS systems either include or integrate inventory, scheduling, labor, accounting, and sales management systems.

Training ramp

Assess the learning curve needed to operate the system. Can your employees and guests pick it up easily?


Tablet technology means the card never leaves the guest’s sight, providing security as well as a convenient, fast experience.

Look for operational efficiencies

Old school owners often lean into pen and paper restaurant bookkeeping. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? But that method is probably not as efficient as you think. It’s very easy for important information to fall through the cracks. Look for POS systems that can integrate with your restaurant accounting, payroll, scheduling, and other finance-related software.

Do your homework

You can research the latest restaurant POS systems online, read about them in trade publications, test drive them at local trade shows, and request a demo. And don’t forget to visit some local restaurants and watch POS systems in motion to see if they are quick, convenient, and seamless.

The Promise of POS Systems for Restaurants

Take a deeper dive into four things to consider when choosing a POS system.

Choosing Restaurant Technology

Find out which technology can drive profit and enhance your bottom line.

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