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Updated Feb 01, 2024

What Are the Benefits of POS Systems for Restaurants?

A POS system helps your restaurant save time and money and operate more smoothly.

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Donna Fuscaldo, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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Active management is vital to restaurant success. You must be able to supervise employee performance effectively, offer top-notch customer service and monitor inventory accurately to ensure your eatery runs smoothly and turns a profit. However, tracking restaurant and customer data while managing your establishment and running the business can be challenging. Fortunately, POS systems can streamline operations, help you handle sales transactions and monitor everything from customer preferences to staff schedules. 

Editor’s note: Looking for the right POS system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

What are POS systems for restaurants?

Many businesses use point-of-sale (POS) systems to accept payments and gather data. However, restaurant POS systems can be especially crucial for smooth operations and data tracking:

  • Restaurant POS systems handle sales transactions: A restaurant POS system is a comprehensive management system that handles all transactions. Typically, they include a POS cash register and other hardware to help them accept cash, card and digital payments.  
  • Restaurant POS systems accommodate many restaurant types: An extensive range of POS system vendors provides various devices and functions at different price points. Some cater to small cafes, bars or food trucks while others can accommodate full-service eateries. Restaurant POS systems can be cloud-based or hybrid, depending on the needs of your business.
  • Restaurant POS systems provide robust reporting capabilities: An excellent POS system will help you monitor and control most of your restaurant’s functions in-house or remotely. They include insightful sales reports that can inform staffing, pricing and inventory decisions. They also help you understand your customers’ buying trends and monitor your establishment’s sales performance ― a crucial element of continuous business growth.

How a restaurant POS system works

A restaurant POS system has two components: hardware and software. 

  • Restaurant POS hardware: Restaurant POS hardware includes all the devices necessary to ring up a sale and capture payment information. It can include a cash drawer, credit card reader, receipt printer and barcode scanner. With a top mobile POS system, a tablet or mobile device may be all the hardware you need. 
  • Restaurant POS software: Restaurant POS software works behind the scenes to capture and process payments, track inventory, collect customer data and send reordering alerts. Restaurant-specific POS software can record every order a server places and coordinate transaction details with your inventory. These systems can integrate with third-party apps or your existing back-office systems, helping you run your commerce operations from one dashboard.
TipBottom line
Before you choose a POS system, ask about its essential hardware components, which may include iPads, printers, wiring, an internet router, payment devices and POS keyboards for desktop devices.

12 benefits of POS systems for restaurants

A POS system can be highly beneficial for restaurant owners, managing everything from inventory to wait staff and minimizing the complexity of running a dining establishment. Here are a few POS system features that bring enormous benefits to restaurant owners. 

1. Cloud-based POS systems let you manage your restaurant from anywhere. 

Cloud-based POS software lets you check in with your locations from anywhere with an internet connection. You have the freedom to manage your restaurant remotely from home, while you’re on vacation or from another restaurant location.

Additionally, cloud-based POS software allows restaurant owners to update menus, change prices, add and manage employees, set security parameters and much more. 

2. POS systems reduce errors and theft in your restaurant. 

POS systems record and store all transactions, including sales and refunds, eliminating error-prone manual recording processes and reducing opportunities for theft. Additionally, many restaurant-specific POS systems have ingredient-level tracking that allows owners to manage their inventory precisely and never run out of a popular item. Inventory calculations are error-free and effortless. 

With better inventory controls comes more employee oversight and less theft. When business owners can monitor their restaurant’s cash drawers, they can ensure all discounts, refunds and cash-handling procedures are fraud- and error-free. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Common restaurant employee scams include undercharging customers (and pocketing the difference), stealing alcohol and food and voiding checks (and pocketing the money).

3. Restaurant POS systems improve service speed.

Few things slow down service more than an overbooked restaurant or an overwhelmed kitchen. POS software can help prevent these issues by streamlining operations. Through a POS, you can manage your restaurant floor plan, ensuring you don’t overwhelm some servers and underutilize others. Additionally, these systems send orders directly to the kitchen, bypassing manual entry and reducing the likelihood of mistakes. 

Smooth service can boost customer satisfaction and make your staff happier. 

4. Restaurant POS systems automate repetitive tasks.

Time is money, so the more time spent ordering food and supplies, the less you have to grow your operations. POS systems allow you to create customized workflow automations that can save you time and bring tremendous benefits. 

For example, you can set up your POS system to alert you automatically when specific ingredients are low or when supplies must be replenished. Some POS systems can even place orders for you. Additionally, automated reports can save you time. You can have them delivered to your email inbox for added convenience. 

5. Restaurant POS systems can identify popular items.

Your restaurant POS system can monitor the popularity ― or lack thereof ― of your menu items. You can tailor your menu to your customers’ preferences and set automated alerts that ensure you never run out of your diners’ favorites. 

6. Restaurant POS systems let you order at the ingredient level.

Restaurant owners have more complex inventory-tracking needs than retailers. They must carefully consider the ingredients necessary to produce their most popular dishes. POS systems provide detailed inventory management and tracking features that allow restaurant owners to track menu items at the ingredient level. You’ll know when a vital ingredient is running low and can ensure your chef has everything necessary to create your diners’ favorite meals. 

Additionally, your POS system can help you determine how much each menu item costs to produce, helping you spot when you’re paying too much. 

FYIDid you know
A restaurant management system is a POS solution created for restaurants and other dining establishments. Its features include inventory and staff management, as well as payment processing.

7. Restaurant POS systems help you provide better customer service.

A well-designed point-of-sale system saves your staff time, which translates into better customer service and better profit margins. Intuitive POS software helps your team process orders quickly and accurately, improving guest management. For example, an iPad POS system helps servers quickly input orders. Orders can be sent to the kitchen immediately, speeding up order delivery.

8. Restaurant POS systems free up your team’s time. 

POS systems can help daily operations run like clockwork, allowing you and your team more time for brainstorming and strategizing. You’ll be able to catapult your restaurant to the next level when you take advantage of a POS system’s built-in features and functions. With everything from employee time management to real-time reporting data, you’ll have more freedom to grow your business. 

9. Restaurant POS systems provide valuable business insights.

Many POS systems have built-in POS reporting capabilities that restaurant owners can use to get a snapshot of sales and see how the restaurant is performing. A POS system also collects customer data that can inform future business decisions.

Owners can run reports on sales, credit card or digital payment transactions, sales for individual employees and inventory. Reports can be run in real time. Because the data resides in the cloud, you can access it whenever you want, wherever you are.

10. Restaurant POS systems keep kitchen staff in the loop.

Poor communication between your chef and waitstaff is a surefire way to back up the kitchen and create angry customers in the dining room. If crucial points are lost in translation, serious headaches can ensue.

A POS system takes the guesswork out of restaurant employee communications. Instead of servers running to the kitchen or bar to place orders, they enter orders via the POS system. Tickets go directly to the kitchen, eliminating any confusion or miscommunications.

11. Restaurant POS systems include built-in loyalty programs.

Restaurant owners prize customer loyalty ― repeat business is the lifeblood of many dining establishments. Restaurant POS systems often include built-in customer loyalty program functionality that makes it easy to reward customers and incentivize them to return. The POS system can handle customer rewards and discounts automatically. 

Additionally, many POS systems help you track information about customer preferences, such as the time they eat and their allergies. With this information, you can design specific promotions that appeal to various customer segments. For example, you can run early bird specials and advertise them to customers who consistently eat around 5 p.m. 

12. Restaurant POS systems can manage staff schedules.

Handling staff schedules manually can be complex. Restaurants often experience high employee turnover and specific shifts and days can require vastly different staffing levels.  

A POS system can automate scheduling to ensure balanced staffing and track current employees and their availability. These systems can also act as time clocks that track time off and automate many of the business’s labor-management processes.

TipBottom line
Consider investing in a POS that integrates with your security camera system to help keep your restaurant secure.

Top POS systems to consider 

You have many options when choosing a POS system for your restaurant. Many of the best POS systems offer features for retailers, restaurants, service professionals and more categories. 

However, the best restaurant POS systems specifically have unique features that address wait staff management, floor plans, menu management, ingredient tracking and more. Consider the following options and match their features to your needs and budget. 

TouchBistro

TouchBistro is an easy-to-use POS system that makes managing a busy restaurant a breeze, thanks to drag-and-drop table management tools. You can create floor plans and track how frequently tables turn over to ensure maximum occupancy. 

TouchBistro also offers a robust inventory management system that lets you track menu items to the ingredient level. You can even see how much each menu item costs per ingredient ― a standout feature many competitors don’t offer. Read our review of TouchBistro to learn about its customer management tools and loyalty program features.

Toast

Toast is a popular POS system for restaurant owners. Its tableside service functions let servers take orders and collect payments at the table via a handheld device. Tableside service is efficient and helps turn over tables faster, boosting sales. Read our in-depth review of Toast to learn about its robust reporting and analytics tools that provide insights into sales, staffing and costs. 

Lavu

Lavu is a user-friendly, cloud-based POS system for restaurants that works with iPads and features inventory tracking and order management. This POS system is compatible with various payment processors and offers an extensive list of add-ons, from payment and delivery to accounting and payroll. Lavu also offers MenuDrive for online ordering and Sourcery for bill-pay and invoicing. 

Clover

Clover is an excellent restaurant POS system with standout features and affordable pricing. It offers various service plans for different restaurant types, emphasizing security and inventory management. Read our review of Clover to learn about its employee performance analytics and third-party app integrations.

Cake

Cake offers robust features for restaurant owners looking to streamline their operations. It supports various seating arrangements, menu modifications and employee time management functions. The system also simplifies tip splitting and enhances reporting with filters. Read our review of Cake to learn about its inventory management tools and customizable online ordering features.

author image
Donna Fuscaldo, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Donna Fuscaldo, who has 25 years of experience navigating the convergence of business, finance, and technology, is a trusted advisor to small business owners. Her expertise in business borrowing, funding, and investment strategies equips her to provide reliable counsel on everything from business loans to accounting and retirement benefits. Her analysis has graced publications like The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Bankrate, Investopedia, Motley Fool, Fox Business and AARP, solidifying her authority in the field. Beyond her contributions to the financial landscape, Fuscaldo also lends her wisdom on employment matters, with her expertise sought after by platforms like Glassdoor and others. Armed with a bachelor's degree in communication arts and journalism, Fuscaldo has the unique ability to simplify complex business and career-related topics into actionable insights. This makes her a valuable resource for professionals seeking practical solutions in today's dynamic business environment.
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