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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.