Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

The Best iPad Restaurant POS Systems of 2020

By Lori Fairbanks,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Sep 24, 2020

We've reviewed the best iPad restaurant POS systems for 2020. Read up-to-date comparisons on features and prices for the top iPad POS systems for restaurants.
Full-Service
Ingredient inventory tracking
Supports online ordering
Table and reservation management
Best Overall
Transparent pricing
Integration with card processors
Runs on iPads and Macs
Quick Service
Affordable subscription rates
Supports third-party POS hardware
In-house payment processing
We've reviewed the best iPad restaurant POS systems for 2020. Read up-to-date comparisons on features and prices for the top iPad POS systems for restaurants.

Whether you're looking to upgrade an existing point-of-sale system for your restaurant or in the market to buy your first one, you should consider an iPad-based system. These full-featured systems are smaller, sleeker and less expensive than traditional restaurant POS systems. They can help you easily handle front-of-house tasks like taking orders and accepting payments as well as back-of-house responsibilities like managing staff and tracking inventory. To help you choose the best iPad restaurant POS system, we evaluated dozens of options and narrowed them down to the following recommendations.

Find the Right POS System for Your Restaurant

Fill out this questionnaire to find vendors that meet your needs.
How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
57
Considered
12
Researched
3
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Lightspeed TouchBistro Linga POS
Features Inventory management, reporting, and customer and employee management Inventory management, reporting, customer and employee management, restaurant management Inventory management, reporting, customer and employee management
Pricing & fees Starting at $59 for one register; $34 for each additional register Starting at $69 per month Starting at $19.99 per month
POS hardware supported Mobile apps and web-enabled devices iPad, iPad Pro or iPad Mini iPad, iPad Pro or iPad Mini
Payment processors In house, Cayan, Worldpay In house, Chase, PayPal, Square, Cayan, Worldpay In house, Chase, EPX, EVO, First Data, Global Payments, Heartland, Optomany, TSYS and Worldpay

 

Reviews

Lightspeed: Best POS for Full-Service Restaurants and Bars

Lightspeed integrates with more than 250 third-party apps.
This system offers robust inventory features for restaurants and retailers.
Lightspeed only offers in-house processing and two integrated credit card processing options.

Lightspeed point-of-sale software is used at more than 51,000 business locations in more than 100 countries. The company has offices in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The system has versions for retail businesses and restaurants, and an e-commerce add-on is available for retailers that operate both in person and online. Though this iPad POS system is designed primarily for small and midsize businesses, the company offers custom plans for enterprise-level organizations as well. 

We selected Lightspeed as the best POS system for inventory management because both the retail and restaurant versions of its software have robust inventory features, including nicer ones like purchase ordering, preloaded catalogs for quick inventory creation on the retail version and ingredient-level tracking on the restaurant version. 

Lightspeed Restaurant earned its place as our pick for the best iPad POS for full-service restaurants and bars for its rich assortment of features including table, tab and tip management, tableside ordering and coursing. 

It also has the flexibility we look for in both types of POS systems, with options for subscription length, compatibility with third-party hardware and a choice of integrated payment processors. 

Lightspeed Pricing and Terms

Lightspeed provides an overview of its software pricing on its website. All of its plans are cloud-hosted, and there are no setup or installation fees. If you need something different from the published plan – for instance, if you have a large business or a high monthly sales volume and need a customized plan, you can call the company for a quote. Pricing for its POS hardware is not posted online. 

POS Software

Lightspeed gives you the option of month-to-month service, though you can opt for annual or multiyear subscriptions if you prefer lower pricing to the flexibility of not being locked into a long-term contract. The pricing posted on its website is for a single location. If you have multiple locations, you'll need to speak with a sales rep to get a quote specific to your business's needs. 

Lightspeed offers a demo and a 14-day free trial, and you should use both to make sure the software meets your needs. This is particularly important if you choose an annual subscription, since you'll be locked into the service for an extended period. All plans include onboarding and 24/7 support. Here are more details on Lightspeed's POS software prices. 

Lightspeed Retail POS

Five pricing plans are available for this software version, and the company posts pricing for both its annual and month-to-month plans online. Each plan supports one register, and includes inventory, basic reporting and customer management features. Additional registers cost $29 each per month. 

  • The Basic plan costs $69 per month (billed annually) or $79 per month (billed monthly).

  • The Starter plan costs $99 per month (billed annually) or $119 per month (billed monthly). This plan includes the e-commerce module, allowing you to take your store online.

  • The Standard plan costs $119 per month (billed annually) or $139 per month (billed monthly). In addition to the e-commerce module, it comes with an accounting integration so you can connect your accounting software to your POS system.

  • The Advanced plan costs $169 per month (billed annually) or $189 per month (billed monthly). It comes with everything in the Standard plan plus the loyalty module.

  • The Pro plan costs $229 per month (billed annually or $259 per month (billed monthly). In addition to the features included with the Advanced plan, it has an analytics module to give you deeper insights into your sales data. 

Lightspeed Restaurant POS

This version of Lightspeed's POS supports an unlimited number of users, and includes tableside ordering, customer management, standard reporting and access to Lightspeed's integration library. 

  • Pricing starts at $59 per month (billed annually) or $69 per month (billed monthly) and supports one register. Additional registers cost $34 each per month. 

A variety of add-ons are available for Lightspeed Restaurant, and the company posts pricing for them online. 

  • Pricing starts at $12 per month for its customer-facing display, the kitchen display system, advanced reporting and self-order table menu.

  • Premium add-ons start at $39 per month; options include accounting integration, self-order kiosk, a delivery integration loyalty program and loyalty app.

POS Hardware

You can run Lightspeed Retail POS as a mobile app on any type of iPad or from a web browser on any device, such as a laptop or desktop computer. If you use an iPad as your POS terminal, you can use it as a fully mobile device and check out customers from anywhere in the store, or pair it with a stand to use as a countertop POS station. You can also set up an iPad as a display so your customers to see and verify their orders as you enter them into the system. 

For Lightspeed Restaurant POS, you can run the front end of the software as an app on iPads, iPods, and iPhones, allowing your servers to take orders and payments or tableside. Or, like the Retail version, you can pair an iPad with a stand to use as a countertop POS station. To access the back end of the software, you can use any device with a web browser. 

Like other top POS systems, Lightspeed works with third-party POS hardware, and posts the makes and models it supports on its website. You can purchase hardware from Lightspeed, either bundled or piece by piece, or use the list to comparison shop. If you already own POS equipment like a cash drawer, receipt printer or barcode scanner, but don't see your items on the website, you can contact the company to check for compatibility. If you need to buy iPads or Mac computers, you can purchase them from Lightspeed, as it's an authorized Apple reseller. 

Features

All versions of Lightspeed's POS software are full-featured, giving you a broad selection of tools to help you run your business efficiently. The company regularly updates all versions of its software. 

Inventory Management

Inventory management tools are built into Lightspeed's iPad POS system, allowing you to track inventory, create product variations and bundle items. It helps you manage vendors and create purchase orders. If you have multiple outlets, you can track and purchase inventory for all locations, and transfer items from one location to another.

  • Retail inventory features. Lightspeed's retail POS software has more than 3,000 preloaded catalogs with more than 14 million items, making it easy to add new products to your system. If you're transferring your product data from another system, you can import items in bulk (up to 10,000 SKUs at a time) using Lightspeed's import tool. You can set up the system to send you low-stock alerts and reorder items directly from the system. If you sell products online using Lightspeed eCom, you can manage inventory for both your brick-and-mortar and online stores from the same platform.
  • Restaurant inventory features. The POS software tracks inventory with ingredient-level detail, helping you keep ample supplies on hand for the menu items you create from scratch. You can assign ingredients to the products, and the system reports your product stock levels to help you reorder wisely. It also reports food costs and profit margins to show you how much each dish costs to make, making it easy for you to see if you have a healthy margin on menu items or if you need to adjust your pricing. You can add vendor contact information to each menu item to make it easier to reorder supplies. You can also add a barcode, which means you can enter supplies you receive into the system using a barcode scanner rather than entering each one manually. If you want to get an alert when your inventory runs low, you can add this feature through one of the system's third-party integrations. 

Reporting

All Lightspeed POS subscriptions come with reporting tools, including a daily dashboard, employee performance reports and product reports. You can view your sales per hour on the dashboard, and the product sales report displays your top-selling and most profitable items. If you need to export report data to another program, you can download it in CSV format. The Advanced Reporting module comes with the Lightspeed Retail's Pro plan or can be added to your Lightspeed Restaurant subscription for an additional monthly fee.

Customer Management

Lightspeed has built-in customer relationship management tools that let you create customer profiles and add notes about their preferences. On the retail POS software, you can view purchase histories, assign VIP status to your regulars, and offer customers discount and promo codes. The restaurant POS software lets you create tabs, track visits and payment histories, and see a customer's reservation. The Lightspeed Loyalty module comes with the retail Advanced and Pro plans. It can be added to the restaurant version of this POS software for an additional monthly fee.

Employee Management

Lightspeed has role-based user access. Its preconfigured roles make it easy to get started, and you can customize them, create new roles, or set custom permissions for each individual, giving you the ability to control exactly which tasks and data you want each user or role-based group of users to access. 

This POS system has a built-in timeclock, so your employees can clock in and out using the POS system. You can see your employees' hours and run performance reports to see their sales, profit and, for restaurants, tips. 

Integrations

Lightspeed's App Store offers more than 250 integrations. Dozens of apps are available for both the retail and restaurant versions of Lightspeed's POS software, allowing you to connect to credit card processors, accounting software (including QuickBooks, Xero, and Sage), analytics programs, marketing services, and other business programs. Lightspeed eCom has numerous apps that you can use to extend its capabilities, such as chat programs and social media channels. An API is available for Lightspeed Retail, but access to the restaurant API is limited to Lightspeed partners. 

Retail-Specific Features

Lightspeed Retail supports product variants, such as color, size, and style, and you can bundle multiple items together to sell as a package or kit. You can also process work orders, which may be a useful feature for stores that provide repair services, and place special orders for customers. 

It has tools that you can use to automate discounts and change prices in bulk, saving you the time it would take to update them one at a time. You can also create coupons, run promotions and giveaways, and offer donations. 

Restaurant Management Features

Lightspeed Restaurant has table and reservation management features to help you optimize available seating, a self-order menu app you can use with iPads so customers can place their own orders from kiosks or from tables, and catering and delivery tools to manage the takeout side of your restaurant. If you want customers to be able to order online, you can add this option to the system using a third-party integration. 

You can use the floor plan to see which tables are open and which are ready to pay so you can let waiting customers know that a table will be available shortly. When your servers are taking orders, they can arrange dishes into courses to ensure menu items are brought out in the correct order. When it's time to pay, servers can split and group bills, and even divide an item, such as a shared appetizer, between customers. 

Additional Considerations

Lightspeed now offers its own payment processing service, called Lightspeed Payments, which is available for Lightspeed Retail in the U.S. (and will soon be offered in other regions as well). It has flat-rate pricing with no additional fees. Here's what it costs to use it: 

  • Cards accepted in person using a card reader: 2.6% + 10 cents
  • Manually keyed-in cards and online transactions: 2.6% + 30 cents 

Even though Lightspeed has in-house processing, it still gives you the option of working with Cayan (now a TSYS company) and Worldpay from FIS (formerly Vantiv). Even though your processor options are limited, and this is a smaller selection than most companies offer, you can still call for pricing quotes and choose the one that's the best deal. 

Lightspeed's customer service team is available 24/7 by phone or email, and tech support agents can remotely resolve software-based issues. The company can help you set up the system or migrate your data as well. If you prefer to troubleshoot problems yourself, the company's website has a searchable knowledgebase with step-by-step directions, video tutorials, blogs, white papers and webinars. You can also sign up to join its community forum. 

Drawbacks

Although Lightspeed posts most of its pricing info on its website, it doesn't reveal pricing for its POS hardware. Still, it works with third-party hardware – including pieces you may already own – and posts a full list of compatible models so you can shop around for the best value. 

While it offers in-house processing and two integrated credit card processing options, that is a lot fewer than most of what its competitors offer. This means you may not be able to continue using your preferred processor unless you use the POS software alongside your payments system instead of integrating with it, which adds extra steps to the checkout process.

More

TouchBistro: Best Overall

TouchBistro has more than 200 features, with a big focus on the restaurant industry.
This POS system supports third-party hardware.
TouchBistro requires a one-year contract, and all prepaid fees are nonrefundable.

TouchBistro is a restaurant POS company with offices in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Mexico. Its point-of-sale software is suitable for restaurants of all sizes, with one or multiple locations, including full- and quick-service restaurants, food trucks, bars, nightclubs, and breweries. TouchBistro is used internationally by more than 23,000 establishments, including high-profile clients like Little Caesars and Johnny Rockets. It was also recently deployed in several restaurants that received makeovers in celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's new Fox show, 24 Hours to Hell and Back

TouchBistro is our pick for the best restaurant POS app for iPads because it's affordable, works well for most restaurant types and sizes, and has an impressive collection of restaurant-specific features to help you manage your business effectively. It also works with third-party hardware, so you can comparison shop or possibly continue using equipment you already own. Another benefit is that you can select which payment processing company you work with from a list of options that include its in-house processing service, TouchBistro Payments, and well-known processors such as Worldpay (Vantiv), Square, PayPal and Chase. 

TouchBistro Pricing and Terms

TouchBistro posts the pricing for its POS plans and several of its add-on services, such as its loyalty program and reservations system, on its website. It charges a $200 setup fee for installation assistance and training. 

POS Software

Before signing up for TouchBistro restaurant POS, you'll want to book a demo and take advantage of its free trial so you can try out all the features and make sure it's a good fit for your business. The trial period is 28 days (seven days without registration and an additional 21 days after you register).

POS Software-Only Plans

TouchBistro's POS software has a one-year contract. If you prepay, you can cancel your account at any time, and there's no early termination fee, but the terms specify that all prepaid fees are nonrefundable, so you'll want to wait until the end of the term to avoid losing money. You'll need to provide TouchBistro written notice of your intent to cancel 60 days before the end of the term to prevent it from automatically renewing.

  • The Solo plan costs $69 per month and includes one license, which means you can use it on one iPad.
  • The Dual plan costs $129 per month and includes two licenses.
  • The Team plan costs $249 per month and includes five licenses.
  • The Unlimited plan costs aren't posted, so you'll need to contact the company for a custom quote. As the name suggests, TouchBistro does not limit the number of licenses.

POS Hardware

TouchBistro uses iPads as the POS terminals. You can use the iPad, iPad Pro or iPad Mini. Your staff can use them as mobile POS devices to take orders and credit card payments tableside, or you can use them to set up a countertop checkout station. You also have the option to set up multiple iPads as any of the following:

  • A customer-facing display that allows your customers to visually confirm that their orders are correct (pricing varies by plan)
  • A self-service kiosk that your customers use to place their own orders (priced as an additional license)
  • A kitchen display system that helps your kitchen staff manage orders and cooking times more effectively (pricing varies by plan) 

You can also connect the system to a large external screen or television to use as a digital menu board for $20 per month. 

For the rest of your equipment, such as a cash drawer and receipt printer, TouchBistro works with third-party POS hardware. It keeps a list of compatible equipment on its website, so you can shop around for the best price or see if you can use equipment you already own. 

This POS system is a hybrid solution, meaning it uses a local network as the brains of the system but has cloud-based reporting, letting you access your data remotely from any browser. For the network, you need an AmpliFi HD Mesh Router, and if you use more than one iPad with the system, you also need a Mac computer (the Mac Mini, iMac or Mac Pro) to use as a server. 

Features

TouchBistro's website says that it has more than 200 features. The company regularly updates its software, and we found that TouchBistro has nearly all the tools we looked for in restaurant POS systems.

Restaurant Management Features

Using TouchBistro's drag-and-drop table management tools, you can create a floor plan that mimics the layout of your restaurant, and use it to visually manage tables and seats, helping you maximize your occupancy. You can add or remove seats at a table, move parties from one table to another, and transfer items from one seat or table to another. The system tracks how frequently tables turn over, which helps you evaluate the efficiency of your staff.

Inventory Management

This iPad restaurant POS system includes food inventory tools such as recipe management and ingredient-level tracking. It tracks costs, so you can see your profit margin on each menu item, helping you set menu prices. Low-inventory alerts notify you when your supplies drop below the threshold you set, helping you avoid running out of ingredients and other supplies. However, TouchBistro doesn't include vendor management features, which would make it easier to keep track of your vendor's information and reorder supplies, nor does it allow you to add incoming inventory with a barcode scanner; received items must be entered into the system manually. 

Reporting

You can access your reporting data from any device with a browser or from TouchBistro's Reports To Go app, which is available for both Apple and Android phones and tablets. From the app, you can see your daily sales dashboard and dozens of reports, including the following: 

  • Sales by day, menu item, category, section and order type
  • Gross margin by day
  • Hourly sales heat map
  • Discounts and void summaries
  • Labor summaries and shift details
  • Low-inventory totals
  • Menu analysis
  • Tax summaries
  • Custom reports 

You can print, email and export reports to CSV files. With the Shogo integration, you can also export data to your QuickBooks, Xero and Sage accounting software. 

Customer Management

TouchBistro allows you to create customer accounts. It has a notes field that you can use to record customer preferences, and you can view purchase histories and manage account balances. 

If you want to offer your customers a loyalty program, you can subscribe to TouchBistro Loyalty. This lets you collect customer data, offer branded loyalty and gift cards, track points, and offer rewards. Here's more information about these plans: 

  • TouchBistro Loyalty starts at $49 per month. You can offer a single reward, such as discounts, and create marketing materials to promote your loyalty program with this plan.

  • TouchBistro Loyalty Plus starts at $99 per month. This plan allows you to offer multiple rewards and market to select customer groups via email and text.

  • TouchBistro Loyalty Premium starts at $189 per month. In addition to the Plus plan features, you can use push notifications to market to your customers and custom-brand a white-label app. You can also add an order-ahead solution to your plan. 

Employee Management

There's no limit to the number of users you can add to your TouchBistro account. You can create user profiles for each employee and assign them to staff roles you've created (e.g., host, server, chef or manager). You decide which information and features each role can access. For example, perhaps you only want your hosts and managers to access reservations, or maybe you want all your servers to be able to discount items. If you want to run labor reports, you can set the pay rate for each employee or each role. 

TouchBistro has a built-in timeclock, allowing employees to clock in and out through the POS system. It also has in-app messaging to help you communicate with your employees. In case you need help with scheduling, TouchBistro integrates with 7shifts. 

Integrations

TouchBistro doesn't offer as many integrations as some of its competitors, but it has options for accounting, analytics, bar inventory, loyalty programs, online ordering and scheduling. The software has an API for custom integrations, but it's only available to select partners. 

Additional Considerations

Having multiple processing options is an important factor to consider when selecting a restaurant POS service, because it allows you to shop around for the best rates. TouchBistro works with Chase, PayPal, Square, TSYS (Cayan) and Worldpay from FIS (Vantiv). It also has its own processing plan, TouchBistro Payments, through a partnership with Chase. 

All TouchBistro customers have access to 24/7 phone and email support. If you need help with the restaurant POS software, the company's support technicians can remotely access your system to fix the problem. The company also provides online resources to help you troubleshoot, including a knowledgebase, video tutorials and how-to guides with step-by-step instructions. TouchBistro has a blog with articles about managing, staffing, menu creation, marketing, and other topics of interest to restaurant owners and managers. 

Drawbacks

Although TouchBistro has cloud-based reporting and analytics, and automatically backs up your data every day, it's a hybrid system that works on a local network. This may be a plus if you're concerned about internet outages, as the system isn't fully reliant on your internet connection. However, if you'd prefer a fully cloud-based system that doesn't require you to set up a local network, you may want to look at other options.

More

Linga POS: Best POS for Quick-Service Restaurants

Linga can be used by small restaurants with one location to large chains with multiple locations and registers.
This POS system offers self-service kiosks, internet of things integrations (Nest cameras and thermostat), and Wi-Fi for guests.
With Linga, there are upfront costs and fees associated with add-on features, which can get expensive.

Linga, formerly Benseron Hospitality, calls its iPad restaurant point-of-sale system the world's first rOS (restaurant operating system). It can be used by all types of food and beverage businesses, including table-service restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, bars, food trucks, pizzerias and franchises. Establishments of all sizes can use Linga, from those that are very small with one location and a single register to large chains with multiple registers at each location. This Naples, Florida, company works with restaurants in more than 65 countries and supports more than 30 languages. 

Visit our best picks page to see all of our recommendations for restaurant POS systems. 

We selected Linga POS as the best iPad POS for quick-service restaurants because it has a strong feature set with innovative options well suited to this business type, like self-service kiosks, internet of things integrations (Nest cameras and thermostat) and Wi-Fi for guests. Even though it no longer offers a free plan, it continues to be one of the more affordable iPad restaurant POS systems because its plans are less expensive than competitors with similar feature sets. All plans give you the choice of month-to-month or annual subscriptions, and it works with third-party hardware and all major credit card processors, so you can comparison shop or use what you already have. 

Linga POS Pricing and Terms

The company has transparent pricing, so you can easily see what you can expect to pay and determine if it's within your budget before you spend time on the phone or attend a demo. Its website clearly displays its monthly and annual subscription rates for its cloud POS software, and provides a helpful feature comparison chart so you can see which features are included with each plan. It also posts the prices for its add-on services and hardware. 

POS Software

Linga offers four plans – all can be paid either monthly or annually – and you can add an unlimited number of users and products to the system. You can also add an unlimited number of registers, though pricing is per register, so additional ones will cost extra. If you need a custom solution, you can contact the company for a quote. 

One thing to be aware of is that the company charges an implementation fee, which will increase your startup costs significantly, so you'll want to plan ahead for that expense. 

The company offers demos and a 14-day free trial to help you decide if Linga POS is the right POS solution for your restaurant. Here's an overview of Linga's costs. 

  • The Basic plan costs $19.99 per month, per register (billed annually) or $39.99 if you pay monthly. It's best suited to counter- or quick-service restaurants.

  • The Pro plan costs $49.99 per month, per register (billed annually) or $69.99 if you pay monthly. It's a good choice for most other types of restaurants, including full-service, as it includes table management and inventory tools.

  • The Enterprise plan costs $89.99 per month, per register (billed annually) or $109.99 if you pay monthly. This is the plan you'll need if you have multiple locations.

  • Pricing for the Linga One plan isn't posted, so you'll need to call the company for a quote. It's designed for restaurants that need three or more registers, and in addition to the Pro plan features, it includes multiple add-ons, including online ordering, caller ID and reservation management. 

You can enhance your POS system with a variety of add-ons, though some require you to subscribe to the Pro plan first. Several other POS companies offer add-ons, but Linga POS is more upfront about them than most, posting what they are and how much they cost on its website. 

All add-on pricing is per month, based on annual billing. 

  • Caller ID costs $5.99 per site.
  • A customer display costs $9.99 per station.
  • Linga KDS costs $19.99 per station.
  • Texting alerts cost $19.99 per site.
  • Customer loyalty costs $29.99 per site.
  • Linga Schedules costs $29.99 per site.
  • A self-order kiosk costs $49.99 per station.
  • Online ordering costs $59.99 per site.
  • Waitlist and reservation costs $99.99 per site. 

For quick-service chains and franchises, Linga's Enterprise plan has an add-on to help you manage a central kitchen and warehouse. Call center services are also available. 

Service Fees

Linga offers a variety of support services for implementation, menu programming and training, all of which cost extra. These prices are posted on the company's website, which is admirable, but you have to hunt around a little to find them since they're not on the main pricing page. Rather, you have to go to the Shop page and click on the Support Services tab. 

While most are optional, the New Customer Implementation Package is mandatory, and at $999, it's very expensive. Linga isn't the only restaurant POS provider to charge an implementation fee, but it's higher than what some of its competitors charge. The website says training is also required, but the company representative we spoke with told us that it is included with the implementation package. 

POS Hardware

You can use an iPad, iPad Pro or iPad Mini with Linga POS. In addition to using iPads as registers, you can use them as customer displays and self-serve kiosks. 

You can purchase POS hardware on the company's website, either one piece at a time or bundled. It sells iPads, iPad stands, cash drawers, receipt printers, kitchen printers, scales, barcode readers and supplies like receipt paper rolls. If you already own POS equipment, you may be able to use it with Linga POS, so you'll want to check with the company for compatibility before buying new POS equipment. 

POS Software and Hardware Bundle

Linga POS offers a bundled solution for customers who need both POS software and hardware, though it requires you to sign a lengthy contract. 

The Platform as a Service (PaaS) plan costs $49 per month and has a three-year contract. In addition to the POS software and hardware, it includes software updates, a warranty and 24/7 phone support. 

Features

Linga POS has an impressive feature collection, though the features vary from plan to plan, and some are add-on services that cost extra. If you need specific capabilities, make sure they're in the plan you choose. 

One of Linga POS's unique features is its ability to remotely connect with internet of things devices, such as Nest security cameras, thermostat controls and door locks. Also notable is its multilanguage feature that allows you to assign a language to each user. You can set the kitchen printer to print tickets in another language as well. Both of these features are useful when you have a multilingual staff. Linga supports multiple currencies as well, which can be a plus for restaurants near busy tourist destinations. 

Restaurant Management Features

Linga's app has a good assortment of order management tools. You can add photos of your menu items to the buttons on the register, manage the order in which dishes are served, and set optional and mandatory modifiers for menu items. If a customer has a special request, you can note it on the order. You can also track how long it takes for your customers to receive their orders and for your tables to turn over. When your customers are ready for checks, you can split them evenly, by seat or by item. 

With this iPad restaurant POS system, you can bundle menu items into combos, provide coupons, and offer event- or time-based discounts such as happy hour. You can also manage bar tabs. Tabs are searchable, and you can look up both open and closed tabs using the customer's name, the last four digits of their credit card, or by order number. 

For restaurants that offer delivery service, Linga POS has Delivery Dispatch, a feature that groups delivery orders based on destination and plans the most efficient route for your drivers. 

For restaurants that offer table service, it has table management tools you can use to create a floor plan and see at a glance which tables are open or occupied. It also has a waitlist and reservation add-on that you can use to estimate wait time and text guests when their tables are ready. 

Inventory Management

Linga POS's inventory management tools track your supplies at the ingredient level and allow you to set thresholds for low-stock alerts. The system can manage contact information for your vendors, and allows you to create and email purchase orders directly from the system. 

Reporting

The dashboard displays your transactions, net sales, refunds and other metrics that give you an overview of your restaurant's performance. Sales reports reveal your most and least popular items, and the food cost analysis breaks down how much it costs to make each item on your menu. You can compare your inventory costs from the previous week or month to anticipate how much you need to order. You can also run reports to show you your busy hours so you can optimize your staffing and track labor costs. 

Customer Management

Linga POS has a customer database where you can create customer profiles, and use the information for your marketing efforts and delivery services. You can add names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, birthdays, notes and even profile pictures. If you offer customers free Wi-Fi, you can use it to collect customer email addresses, which you can then use to send coupons inviting your customer back for another visit. 

You can use the loyalty add-on to reward your repeat customers. This add-on provides customer analytics to help you understand their purchasing habits. 

Employee Management

Linga POS has role-based permissions that allow you to choose which features and information your employees can access. The software has a built-in time clock, allowing your employees to clock in and out of the system using a PIN. 

Integrations

Linga POS integrates with Nest devices, allowing you to control your restaurant's thermostat, security cameras and door locks remotely. It doesn't post much information on its website about the other third-party applications it integrates with, which include Oracle NetSuite ERP, Givex for gift cards, Zenpepper for white-label online ordering apps, and Mailchimp for email marketing. Using an integration with Shogo, you can connect to popular accounting software like QuickBooks, Xero and Sage One. An API is available if you need custom integrations. 

Additional Considerations

Linga POS now has its own credit card processing service, called Linga Pay. However, it allows you to choose your payment processor from some of the biggest companies in the industry, such as FIS (Worldpay), Fiserv (First Data) and Global Payments (TSYS). Having a selection of processors allows you to shop around for the best rates and terms. 

Email customer support is available on all paid plans, but if you prefer to contact customer service by phone or chat, you'll need the Pro or Enterprise plan. If you experience a software issue, company representatives can, with your permission, remotely connect to your system to resolve it. Or, if you prefer to troubleshoot issues yourself, you can find a knowledgebase with user manuals, release notes and tutorial videos. 

The company provides a variety of support services, though they cost extra. It can provide training and menu programming remotely, or if you need onsite help installing the system, the company can send representatives or select a local company to install the system for you. 

Drawbacks

Though Linga POS's Basic and Pro plans are very affordable for a small business and even its Enterprise plan is comparable to many of its competitors, there are still some costs to watch out for. 

The New Customer Implementation Package that you're required to have is expensive and increases your startup costs dramatically, which may be an issue for many small restaurant owners. However, even with this large upfront expense, it's still a better option than the three-year contract that many of Linga's competitors require. 

Another thing to carefully consider pricewise are the add-ons. There are a lot of great options to choose from, but each adds an extra monthly cost, so this system can get expensive if you need a lot of advanced features and start piling on the add-on services.

More

Buying Guide

What Is a Restaurant POS System?

A restaurant point-of-sale system is the hub of your business. You use it to take orders and send them to the kitchen, accept payments from your customers, record sales data, track inventory at the ingredient level, generate reports, capture customer contact information, and manage employees. 

A restaurant POS system has three components: software, hardware and payment processor. 

  • The software comes as an app that you download and install on your iPad. Most are also available as a cloud-based web app that lets you easily access reporting and management features from any browser. Restaurant POS systems differ from retail POS systems in that they include special feature sets for menus, food inventory and tips. Although some retail POS systems are suitable for counter-service food and beverage businesses, most restaurants require a system with restaurant-specific capabilities. 
  • The hardware for your restaurant POS system can be as basic as just an iPad and a credit card reader or credit card terminal, but most also have a cash drawer, receipt printer and tablet stand. As your food and beverage business grows, you can add more tablets, a kitchen printer or kitchen display system, a barcode scanner, digital menu boards and other accessories. 
  • The payment processing service either integrates with your restaurant POS software or runs alongside it. Many POS system providers have their own credit card processing service, but the best still allow you to work with the processor of your choice – or at least give you a choice of processors – so you can comparison shop for good rates. Having a choice in processors is important because if your rates go up and you want to find a better deal, you only have to switch processors – you don't have to switch out your entire POS system.

Pricing

After you select two or three iPad restaurant POS systems to learn more about, you'll want to call the companies for pricing quotes specific to your restaurant. You'll need to ask for pricing for all three parts of the system: software, hardware and processing. 

Before deciding on any iPad restaurant POS system, schedule demos and download trial versions of the software so you can take them for test drives and see for yourself which system is easiest to use and has features that will streamline your restaurant's processes. 

iPad Restaurant POS Software Costs

As you begin looking at pricing online, you'll notice that most restaurant POS providers list a monthly fee. If you read the small print, you'll find that these prices are often based on an annual subscription or annual prepayment. There are month-to-month plans available, but they're harder to find and may cost a bit more than the prices published on company websites. 

While the best POS providers have monthly or annual terms, some require you to sign a two- or three-year contract. This isn't ideal, because the contracts strongly favor the service provider, with automatic renewals and short cancellation windows, early termination fees (some with liquidated damages clauses that make it very expensive to exit early), and clauses stating that the company can raise your rates at any time as long as it gives you 30 days' notice. 

In addition to the POS subscription costs, you should ask about remote and/or onsite installation and training costs. Some companies don't charge anything extra for these services, some offer installation assistance as an optional service, and some charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you have a complex setup with multiple registers or lengthy menus with recipe and ingredient lists, it may be worth it to pay for setup help, but make sure you're aware of all possible costs so there aren't any unpleasant surprises when you get the bill. 

iPad Restaurant POS Hardware Costs

Some POS providers have proprietary hardware that you must use with their point-of-sale systems. Others use third-party POS hardware with their systems; some sell it themselves, while others don't, but they generally list compatible brands and models on their websites so you can comparison shop. 

For most restaurant owners, it's more cost-effective to work with a POS provider that supports third-party hardware, especially if you already own some and want to continue using it. It may also allow you to continue using it if you switch POS providers later on. 

iPad Restaurant POS Processing Costs

More and more POS providers are offering in-house credit card processing. The benefit of this arrangement is that the processing service seamlessly integrates with your iPad restaurant POS system. The downside is that it can be more expensive than working with a third-party processor. 

Over the long term, payment processing may be the most expensive part of your iPad restaurant POS system – which is why some companies offer you free POS hardware if you sign a long-term contract agreeing to use their processing. It's also the reason companies like Square and PayPal give you free access to basic POS apps as long as you use their processing services.   

For this reason, it's best to get a POS system that lets you choose your own credit card processor or, at the very least, gives you a list of compatible processors to choose from. The best iPad restaurant POS providers do this – even if they also offer in-house processing. This way, you can shop around for a better deal if your rates increase or you aren't satisfied with the credit card processing service.

Restaurant iPad POS Features

Managing a restaurant business isn't easy, which is why you need a full-featured iPad POS system that streamlines processes and helps you stay on top of it all. Here's a sampling of the features you want to look for in a restaurant POS system. When you're looking at your options, keep in mind that some features are built in (included with the subscription price), some are add-ons that cost extra, and some are third-party integrations, depending on the system. 

App

Once you've downloaded and installed the restaurant POS app, your iPad becomes a powerful mobile point-of-sale that you can use to run the front of your restaurant. It can help you seat customers, take orders, add modifiers, split bills, accept payments, manage tabs, track tips and more. Many also offer access to the system's back-of-house features as well. 

Cloud-Based Software

All of the best iPad restaurant POS systems have cloud-based software that works in tandem with the iPad app to give you access to real-time data and reports from any browser. The POS provider hosts your data in the cloud, so you don't have to manually back up your data on a local server. 

Till Management

The restaurant POS system should help you manage cash by tracking how much money is in the cash drawer, recording payouts and voids, and logging your employees' activities at the till. Register features should be easy for your servers to use, giving them the ability to split tickets in multiple ways with just a few taps. When customers are ready to pay, it should prompt them to tip and suggest tip amounts. It should also track tips, making them easy to report to the IRS. 

Menu and Order Management

The system should allow you to update or change the menu at will – adding, removing and editing items as needed, and adding pictures and descriptions. If you have an online menu or display boards, it should give you the option to sync updates across all of them at once rather than updating each one separately. 

If your menu has items that allow for customization, your POS system should support order modifiers and allow your servers to add customer notes that alert the kitchen staff to customer food allergies or special preparation requests. The server should be able to fire orders to the kitchen printer or kitchen display system with a tap. If you offer takeout or delivery, the system should print tickets for those orders as well. 

Inventory Management

Ordering ingredients is challenging – especially when they're perishable. Order too much and they spoil. Order too little and you run out, disappointing hungry customers who were eager to order their favorite menu items. For this reason, you need a system with real-time inventory tracking and ingredient-level detail, showing you the exact quantities you use so you can optimize your supply orders. Some systems alert you when supplies are running low and have automated purchase-ordering tools that can save you time.

Food cost analysis is another useful feature, showing you how much it costs to make each menu item so you can set prices with a profitable margin. Food waste tracking helps you spot inefficiencies so you can figure out how to reduce waste, whether from spoilage, mistakes or other issues. If you serve liquor at your restaurant, you want a system that tracks liquor consumption or integrates with a liquor control device so you can track those amounts as well. 

Reporting

The best iPad POS for restaurants have a dashboard that shows your sales data and other key data sets as charts, giving you an at-a-glance overview of your restaurant's performance. You'll want to be able to run multiple reports and apply filters to drill down on the information that's important to you. The system should integrate with your accounting software to automatically sync your data, saving you the time it would take to manually accomplish this task each day. It should also offer remote access to your reports and other back-office features so you can generate reports and take care of management tasks anytime, anywhere. 

Real-Time Data

One of the advantages of using a cloud-based iPad POS system for your restaurant is that it gives you real-time data about your sales, inventory and staff, so even when you're away from your restaurant, you can monitor how it's running. When you're running reports or analyzing data, you can be confident that you have accurate, current numbers to base your business decisions on. 

Employee Management

If you have employees who will be using the POS terminal, you'll want to create user profiles, assign passcodes and designate access permissions, whether by role or customized for each employee. If you use your POS system to track your labor costs, it should prompt you to enter pay rates. 

Several restaurant POS systems have built-in timeclocks so employees can clock in and out through the system. A few systems include or integrate with scheduling tools to help you staff shifts efficiently. Some systems also include in-system messaging, allowing you to communicate seamlessly with your staff while they work. 

Customer Management

Because it's more expensive to find a new customer than to retain an existing one, you want a restaurant point of sale that helps you keep in touch with your customer base. It should make it easy to capture customer contact information that you can use for your marketing campaigns and delivery services. Some track order histories, which can help you understand and cater to your best customers' preferences, and allow you to add notes, such as customers' birthdays or favorite menu items. If you choose to offer a loyalty program, a POS that offers this integration and automatically tracks points makes it easy to manage. 

Online Ordering

Ordering takeout and delivery online is increasingly popular with consumers, so it's wise to choose an iPad POS system that either offers this feature as an add-on or integrates with online ordering software. If you don't offer your own delivery service, look for a system that integrates with ordering partners like DoorDash, Grubhub or Uber Eats. 

Food Delivery

If you deliver food to your customers, look for a system that has delivery management features like caller ID, Google Maps support, driver tracking and delivery time estimates. 

Hardware

Most of the top restaurant POS systems run on iPads, while just a few, like Toast, are built for Android tablets. In addition to a tablet, you'll need a credit card reader, and you can add other peripherals like a cash drawer, receipt printer, kitchen printer and barcode scanner. In addition to using iPads as registers, some systems allow you to use them as customer-facing screens and self-ordering kiosks. 

Receipt Printer

Although nearly every iPad restaurant POS system allows you to email receipts to your customers, most restaurant owners choose to add a receipt printer to their systems, since many customers still request paper receipts. Also, table-service restaurants may still need paper receipts to encourage tipping. 

Cash Drawer

If your restaurant accepts cash as well as credit cards, you'll want to add a cash drawer to your system so you can organize your paper money and coins and quickly make change, as you would with a cash register. 

POS Features for Full-Service Restaurants

If your restaurant offers table service, you'll need a system with a floor map that shows open and occupied tables, helping you to seat customers efficiently. Reservation and waitlist texting features may be useful as well. You'll want your servers to be able to take orders and accept payments tableside with iPads, and if you have a bar, you'll also want tab management tools and either liquor inventory tracking or an integration for your liquor monitoring system. You should also look for online ordering, catering support and delivery management features if your restaurant offers these services. 

POS Features for Quick-Service Restaurants

A customer-facing display that shows your customers their orders as you enter them into the system improves accuracy, as your customer can see whether the order is correct before they pay for it and you send it to the kitchen. Another helpful feature to consider is self-service ordering that allows your customers to place their own orders on iPads that you set up as kiosks.

Benefits of Switching to a Restaurant POS System

There are several advantages of using an iPad POS system for your restaurant. Here are just three: 

  • The biggest advantage is that it's usually much less expensive than traditional POS systems. There's some very affordable, highly capable restaurant POS software with month-to-month terms. Most include 24/7 support and regular updates with your plan, so you don't have to sign a long-term customer service or maintenance contract or pay for annual upgrades. 
  • Ease of use is another big benefit. Most of these systems are intuitive to set up and use and have cloud-based software, so you don't have to fuss with cords and wires or worry about backing up your system every night. Some are hybrid systems that require you to have a local server to keep things up and running if your internet connection lags or drops, but they also back up your data to the cloud automatically. 
  • Mobility is a huge advantage of iPad POS systems. Instead of having one or two point-of-sale stations or cash registers that servers have to go back and forth to – and sometimes wait their turn for – to enter orders into the system, charge credit cards, and print receipts, you can arm each server with an iPad so they can take orders, send it to the kitchen with a tap, and process payments tableside. All of these functions tend to increase accuracy, speed and customer satisfaction. 

How Does Switching to an iPad POS System Benefit the Customer's Experience?

iPad POS systems allow your servers to take orders at the table directly on the iPads, which is not only faster but also reduces the chance that your servers will enter orders incorrectly, since they won't be jotting down orders on a notepad and then taking them to the back to enter into the system. 

Also, even though EMV chips have reduced credit card fraud, customers are still nervous about letting their credit cards out of their sight. With an iPad POS system, your servers can accept card payments at the table instead of taking the cards to a point-of-sale station in the back, bringing your customers peace of mind and increasing their trust in your business.  

How Do You Know if You Should Switch to an iPad POS System?

If you're looking for ways to streamline processes at your restaurant, ways to save money, and a new system that looks sleek and modern, you should look into an iPad POS system.

How to Choose a Restaurant POS System

There are many factors to consider when you're shopping for a restaurant POS system, but the first thing you want to know is if it's in your budget. It can have all the latest bells and whistles, but if you would have to go into debt to buy it, it's probably not the right system for you. There are several options that have minimal startup costs so you can start with just the basics and then add features and peripherals as your business grows. 

What Do You Need to Know About Your Business in Order to Choose the Right iPad POS System for You?

You need to have a clear understanding of your processes so you can identify the features you need, the features you want and the features you probably won't ever use. 

What Steps Should You Take to Choose an iPad POS System?

When you're in the market for an iPad POS system, the first thing you'll want to do is look at your options. Ask other restaurant owners what system they use and what they like and don't like about it. Check out POS system reviews like this one to see what they recommend and why. 

Once you have three or four systems that you're interested in learning more about, check out their company websites and sign up for demos. Pick your top two and call the companies for quotes to find out exactly how much they will cost you, the term length of the contracts, and if they're compatible with third-party POS hardware and payment processors. If a company offers a free trial, download the point-of-sale software and take it for a spin. Try out all the features so you can decide if it's the right iPad POS system for your restaurant. 

How Does Your Target Customer Base Affect Which iPad POS System You Should Choose?

You'll want to keep your restaurant type and your target customer base in mind when you're looking at features. For instance, if your target customer base is the lunch crowd that wants to order and pay quickly so they can get back to work, you might want a system that supports self-serve kiosks to speed up those processes. If you want a system that caters to takeout customers, you would look for one that has online ordering and delivery management tools.

Business Sizes Using Restaurant iPad POS Software

Food and beverage businesses of all sizes can benefit from iPad POS software. Although most iPad POS companies focus on small and midsize restaurants, most are scalable, support multiple locations and offer enterprise plans. 

Why Should You Consider Your Business's Size When Choosing a POS System?

The size of your business will help determine the number of POS terminals – or iPads – and any additional hardware that you need. It will also influence the plan level and add-on features you need. If you have a small restaurant, a basic POS software plan with one iPad license might be plenty, whereas a slightly larger restaurant might need a higher-tier plan with an online ordering add-on and multiple iPad licenses. 

What Are the Main Differences Between POS Systems for Large Businesses and Those for Small Businesses?

POS systems designed for large businesses tend to be more customizable, whereas those designed for small businesses usually have three standard plans to choose from. 

How Do You Know Which POS System to Choose Based on Your Business's Size?

No matter how big or small your food and beverage business is, you want a scalable POS system, letting you start with just the features and number of registers you need and then easily add on to your system as you go or even downsize if needed. That way, you aren't saddled with a system that's too big and complex for your current needs as you anticipate future growth.

Our Recommendations

In our search for the best iPad restaurant POS systems, we examined several dozen options and considered pricing, contract requirements, features and more. For details on our evaluation process, see the methodology section below. 

Best iPad Restaurant POS System Overall: TouchBistro Restaurant POS

  • Scalability to work with nearly any type or size of restaurant
  • Robust selection of restaurant-specific features, including ingredient-level inventory tracking, customer-facing display, self-service kiosk ordering and delivery management
  • Compatibility with third-party POS hardware and several credit card processors
  • Curated selection of integrations

Best iPad POS System for Quick-Service Restaurants: Linga POS

  • Transparent pricing with one of the lowest-priced basic plans, costing $19.99 per month per register (billed annually); month-to-month plans also available
  • Full selection of restaurant-specific features, including discounting, combo ordering and pizza portioning
  • Optional add-ons and integrations, including customer display, self-service kiosk ordering and loyalty programs

Best iPad POS System for Full-Service Restaurants and Bars: Lightspeed Restaurant

  • Choice of month-to-month, annual or multiyear subscription as well as a choice of payment processor
  • Strong feature set with table, tab and reservation management
  • Add-ons and integrations for loyalty programs, self-service kiosk ordering, advanced reporting and accounting

Our top recommendations – TouchBistro, Linga and Lightspeed – are great POS solutions for most restaurants wanting an iPad-based system, but if you're looking for more specific features, consider these additional recommendations:

  • If you need reservation management tools to keep your busy restaurant running smoothly, check out TouchBistro, Revel Systems and Lightspeed.
  • If your customers would enjoy ordering with self-service kiosks, consider Lightspeed, Linga POS, Revel Systems, Talech and TouchBistro.
  • If you want timed menus or automated discounts for events such as happy hour, check out Upserve, Lightspeed, Linga POS, NCR Silver, Revel Systems, Talech and TouchBistro.
  • If you need a system that helps you manage your vendors and create purchase orders, Upserve, Epos Now, Linga POS and Revel Systems are good options.
  • If you want a good Android-based tablet POS solution, check out Toast.

What Are the Top Overall POS Systems for 2020?

To see our recommendations for the top overall POS systems for 2020, check out our POS systems review

What Are the Best New Restaurant POS Systems for Small Quick-Service Restaurants?

If you have a small quick-service restaurant and don't need a lot of extras, check out Square. You do have to use Square as your processor, but its free POS software has a lot of useful features for quick-service restaurants like tip prompts, customer management and feedback, basic inventory management, and reports. If you want a more advanced system that supports multiple menus and table management, Square for Restaurants may be a good POS solution for you. It costs $60 per month but provides service on month-to-month basis, so you're not locked into a long-term commitment. 

What Are the Top New Restaurant POS Systems That Integrate Inventory and Accounting Features?

All of our best picks have ingredient-level inventory tracking and integrate with accounting software.

Frequently Asked Questions About iPad Restaurant POS Systems

iPad vs. Android: Which restaurant iPad POS platform is better?

While some POS systems are compatible with either iPad or Android tablets, many only work on one platform. If you prefer iPads, chances are you won't be satisfied with a system that only works with Android tablets. If you want to use the iPads and iPhones you already own, platform is an important consideration as you evaluate systems. 

iPads are well known for their user-friendly interface and stability, as Apple designs both the hardware and the operating software. iPads also have superior security because iOS is a closed platform, making it a less attractive target for hackers (though it isn't immune to malware attacks, so it's still important to keep your devices updated). However, iPads tend to be more expensive than Android tablets because they're produced by a single company rather than multiple manufacturers. 

Why do you need a restaurant POS system?

Running a successful restaurant requires you to manage not just front-of-house elements (menus, staff and customers), but also back-of-house tasks (the kitchen, inventory, purchase ordering and reporting). To do this, you need software that brings it all together in one place, helping you efficiently and effectively manage every aspect of your business. 

What features do the best iPad POS systems for restaurants have?

The best restaurant POS systems for iPad offer all the features you would look for in a traditional restaurant POS system, plus tools for creating menus, taking orders, managing inventory at the ingredient level and recording tips. Features are discussed in greater detail above. 

What hardware do I need for my restaurant POS system?

Cloud-based restaurant POS systems are popular because they're cheaper, sleeker and easier to customize than legacy POS systems. Restaurant POS setups can be very basic, with just an iPad, a card reader, a cash drawer and a receipt printer. You typically supply the tablet and buy the card reader or terminal from your payment processor. You buy the cash drawer and receipt printer from the POS company or a third-party POS hardware reseller. Most companies offer equipment both in bundles and as individual components. 

Most systems let you add peripherals, such as iPad stands, barcode scanners, kitchen printers, and liquor controls and scales. System configurations can be very advanced, with additional iPads for kitchen displays, customer displays and self-serve kiosks that customers can use to place their own orders. Splash-resistant covers may be worth investigating if you'll use iPads at the bar or near a drink station. 

Is it better to purchase or lease restaurant POS equipment?

You'll save money by purchasing your POS hardware outright, and you won't be tied to a multiyear contract. Leasing can seem like an attractive option because it costs less upfront and allows you to get a fancier setup than you could afford otherwise. However, by the end of the lease term, you'll have paid much more than you would have paid to purchase the equipment. Plus, you don't own the equipment at the end of term, so you have to either renew the lease and continue monthly payments or buy out the equipment. 

Most leases are noncancelable, and you only have a 30-day window at the end of the term to cancel and return the equipment before the lease automatically renews. 

Which restaurant POS software has the smoothest implementation?

This depends on your restaurant's specific needs and whether you prefer to use a local server, a cloud-based POS, or a hybrid system that uses a local network to run the system but backs up your data to the cloud for remote reporting capabilities. 

A cloud-based system is the easiest to set up: All you need to do is download the mobile app to your iPad and connect any peripherals, such as your printers, via Bluetooth. 

Why is choosing an iPad restaurant POS system challenging?

Many iPad restaurant POS companies offer several software service tiers or plans to choose from. Some systems or plans may have all the features you need but cost more. Others have fewer features and cost less, but these plans may or may not save you money, depending on whether you need to add modules or third-party integrations, which cost extra. As you compare system costs, consider which features you need, whether they're included on basic or advanced plans, and which ones you need to add to the system at an extra cost. 

You also need to consider the hardware side. Some companies have proprietary hardware that's your only option for their system, while others work with open-source POS hardware that you can buy from the vendor of your choice. Keep in mind that if you switch POS systems in the future, you likely won't be able to use the vendor's proprietary hardware, but you may be able to continue using open-source hardware.

Our Methodology

We began our evaluation by compiling a list of iPad restaurant POS systems. Starting with systems we already knew, we added companies that reached out to us plus several we found online. We combed company websites for details about each system, looked through resources like user manuals and video tutorials, and asked live chat agents about features, pricing and terms. We used the following criteria to evaluate each iPad restaurant POS system. 

Monthly Subscription Fees

We considered how much the POS software for a single iPad costs each month. Though the price you're quoted may be different – owing to various factors, such as the number of users, iPad registers and features you add to the system – this number is useful, because it gives you a ballpark idea of the subscription fee you can expect to pay per iPad each month. 

Pricing Transparency

We value transparent pricing because it's a timesaver; it allows you to decide whether an iPad restaurant POS system fits in your budget before you call the company and spend time talking on the phone or going through a demo with a sales agent. 

Contractual Terms

The best terms are month to month, as this allows you to avoid incurring a cancellation fee or waiting out a lengthy term if the system doesn't meet your expectations. If you are confident that the system is a good fit and want a discount more than flexibility, though, an annual subscription might be the better option for you. Be wary of contracts with multiyear terms – you'll be charged hefty fees if you exit your contract before the term expires. 

Processing Options

The ability to choose your payment processor can be a money-saver, because it lets you shop around for the best rates and terms. Some restaurant POS systems for iPad require you to use their in-house processing services, but many give you at least a few third-party processors to choose from. 

Hardware Requirements

The best systems are compatible with third-party hardware, which can save you money because you can look for deals or use the POS equipment you already own. This may also allow you to continue using the hardware if you switch to a different POS company later. 

Feature Availability

We looked for features specific to restaurant POS systems and the availability of third-party integrations or add-ons that you can use to customize the system. 

Support Availability

Every iPad restaurant POS system provides customer support by email and phone, though availability varies by company hours or your subscription tier. We looked for 24/7 support, since many restaurants keep late hours.

What to Expect in 2020

As in other segments of the payments industry, mobility and the customer experience are key topics for restaurant POS systems in 2020. Tablet-based systems continue to grow in popularity, partly because they give you the flexibility to create a better ordering and payment experience for your customers. 

To improve the customer payment experience, more restaurants will use tablet POS systems with mobile card readers to accept payments tableside. Although this technology has been available for several years, American restaurants have been slow to adopt it, even though many use tablets to take orders. 

TSYS's 2018 study of restaurant payments reveals that 69% of diners would prefer to pay at the table. Although only 6% of consumers ranked it as the most important restaurant payment feature, the top two picks – secure payments and speed – provide insight on why accepting payments tableside improves customers' dining experience. First, it allows customers to keep their cards in view during the entire transaction, which gives them peace of mind. Second, it's faster, since customers don't have to wait for the server to bring the check, come back for the card, walk to the back of the restaurant to process the card and then walk back to the table.  

More restaurants will also use tablets – installed either on tables or at stand-alone stations – as self-serve kiosks in 2020 to allow customers to place their own orders and pay for their food. Customers enjoy the convenience of shorter lines and the novelty of ordering and paying at a kiosk. They tend to spend more with this setup, helping your bottom line. Kiosks may also be a solution for restaurant owners who need to reduce labor costs as wages continue to rise.  

Your customers will use their mobile devices to interact with your restaurant more frequently in 2020 as well. Ordering ahead by mobile is expected to continue to grow in popularity as both a takeout and dine-in option, and more dine-in customers will pay with mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. 

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks,
business.com Writer
See Lori Fairbanks's Profile
Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes about small business finance, including accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems for business.com and Business News Daily.

Services

Cake from Sysco is an all-in-one restaurant point-of-sale system designed for small restaurant businesses. It's a hybrid system, so you can use its cloud-based software to access your reporting and other back-of-house tasks from any browser. It uses a router and has an offline mode, so you don't need to worry if your internet connection lags. Cake offers add-ons for guest management, iPad tableside ordering and online ordering. Third-party integrations are also available for this restaurant POS system.
Besides register capabilities, Revel has a ton of additional features, such as ingredient-level inventory management, analytics and QuickBooks integration. The company offers solutions for all business types and sizes, including retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, wineries and event companies. Revel also lets you create custom POS integrations using its API, so you can tailor the system to your business's needs.
Square is the simplest and fastest way to accept credit cards using a smartphone or tablet. It has clear, affordable pricing with no contracts, credit checks or complicated setup processes, so you can get started right away. You can start small with a simple credit card reader, then transition to a Square terminal, tablet stand or register as your business grows.

Toast is an all-in-one point of sale and restaurant management platform that includes front-of-house, back-of-house, and guest-facing technology. More specifically, Toast helps busy restaurant staff bridge the gaps between point of sale, payment processing, marketing, labor management, online ordering and more. Toast's partner network also allows users to tap into numerous third-party applications as needed. In sum, Toast's technology is designed to help you grow your business, provide contactless off-premises dining solutions, manage your team, and build your vision for the future. Toast serves establishments of all sizes, including fine and casual dining, fast casual, bars and nightclubs, cafes and bakeries, and multilocation restaurant groups.

Upserve POS, formerly Breadcrumb, is a feature-rich iPad POS system for restaurants, bars, clubs and similar establishments. It has hundreds of capabilities, including ingredient-level inventory management, and integrates with more than 50 third-party restaurant tools, so you can tailor the system to make it perfect for your business. Upserve offers 24/7 customer support.
Image Credit: Rawpixel / Getty Images
Back to Top
Back to Top