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 and can be used by full- and quick- service restaurants, food trucks, bars, nightclubs and breweries. It's used internationally by more than 12,000 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."
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We selected TouchBistro as 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 designed 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 want to work with from a list of options that include well-known processors such as Worldpay (Vantiv), Square, PayPal and Chase.
TouchBistro Pricing and Terms
TouchBistro posts the pricing for its POS plans and its loyalty program on its website. It doesn't indicate how much its premium install and hardware support services cost; however, it does state that pricing may vary depending on the specific requirements of your POS setup, so you'll need to speak with a sales rep to get a quote if you'll need setup assistance.
Before signing up for TouchBistro, 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 then an additional 21 days after you register).
TouchBistro has four subscription plans, and the posted prices are based on annual billing. Month-to-month terms are also available. The tiers are determined by the number of licenses (or iPads) you use; every tier includes all of TouchBistro's features and allows you to add an unlimited number of users to the system. Here are the details.
- 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 $399 per month and, as the name suggests, includes an unlimited number of licenses.
The terms of service are posted on the company's website, and as you would with any POS system, you should read it before signing up.
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 if you subscribe to an annual plan, you'll want to wait until the end of the term. 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.
TouchBistro uses iPads as the POS terminals, and you can use the iPad, iPad Pro and iPad Mini. Your staff can use them to take orders and payments tableside or you can use them to set up a countertop checkout station. You can set up an iPad as a customer-facing display that allows your customers to visually confirm that their orders are correct, or you can use them as self-service kiosks that your customers use to place their own orders. You can also use iPads alongside your kitchen printer as a kitchen display system.
For the rest of your equipment, such as a cash drawer and receipt printer, TouchBistro works with third-party POS hardware and posts a list of compatible equipment on its website so you can shop for the best price or determine whether you can use equipment you already own.
This POS system is a hybrid solution, meaning that it uses a local network as the brains of the system but has cloud-based reporting so you can access your data remotely from any browser. For the network, you need an Apple 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.
TouchBistro's website says that it has more than 200 features. The company regularly updates its software, and you can check the latest release notes on its website to learn about new features as they're added. In our testing, we found that TouchBistro had nearly all the tools we looked for in a restaurant POS system.
You can create a floor plan that mimics the layout of your restaurant and use it to visually manage tables, seats and reservations, 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 also tracks how frequently tables turn over, which helps you evaluate the efficiency of your staff. One feature it lacks is waitlist texting that lets you text waiting customers when tables are ready.
You can add photos, ingredient lists and allergy information for each menu item, helping your staff introduce new menu items to customers or answer your customer's questions about the menu. You can add custom modifiers, and if you want your servers to upsell, you can set up the system to prompt servers with suggestions based on the item the customer ordered. Servers can use the coursing tools to indicate the order in which menu items should be served, which helps create an enjoyable dining experience for your customers. The system tracks how long customers wait to receive their orders after placing them.
The system helps you run timed promotions, such as happy hour, and can manage bar tabs. If you need to add a liquor control device to the system, integrations are available.
TouchBistro includes catering and delivery tools, which help you efficiently manage the takeout side of your restaurant. However, if you want your customers to have the option of placing their order online, you'll need to work with a third party for an integration, as this feature isn't included.
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 your 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 scan incoming inventory with a barcode scanner, as received items must be entered into the system manually.
You can access your reporting data from any device with a browser, or using TouchBistro's Reports To Go app, which is available for both Apple and Android phones and tablets. From the app, you can see the daily sales dashboard and more than 50 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
- Audit reports
- Tax summaries
- Custom reports
You can print, email and export reports to CSV files. Using the Shogo integration, you can also export your data to your QuickBooks, Xero and Sage accounting software.
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 a loyalty program, you can subscribe to TouchBistro Loyalty, powered by ReUp. With it, you can 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 with this plan, such as discounts, and create marketing material to promote your loyalty program.
- 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.
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 those 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 time clock, allowing your employees to clock in and out using the POS system. It also has in-app messaging to help you communicate with your employees. If you need help with scheduling, TouchBistro integrates with 7shifts.
TouchBistro doesn't offer as many integrations as some of its competitors but has options for accounting, analytics, loyalty, scheduling and bar inventory. The software has an API, but it's only available to select partners.
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 Cayan, Chase, Moneris, PayPal, Premier Payments, Square and Worldpay (Vantiv). It also has its own processing plan, TouchBistro Payments, through a partnership with WePay.
All TouchBistro customers receive 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 issues, including a knowledgebase, video tutorials and how-to guides with step-by-step instructions. The company also has Restaurant Success Library with articles about managing, staffing, menu creation, marketing and other topics of interest to restaurant owners and managers.
Although TouchBistro has cloud-based reporting 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 doesn't rely on the internet. However, if you'd prefer a system that's fully cloud-based and doesn't require you to set up a local network, you may want to look at other options.
Also, the router it works with is the Apple AirPort Extreme, which has recently been discontinued. The company notes on its support page that even though it's no longer being manufactured, it's still supported by both Apple and TouchBistro. Speaking of Apple products, the computer you use for the network must be a Mac, and the tablets you use as POS terminals must be iPads, so if you prefer a PC or want a system that works with Android tablets instead of or in addition to iPads, this system may not be the right fit for you.
Lastly, TouchBistro doesn't have vendor management and purchase-ordering tools that let you order supplies through the system. Though you'll use its inventory reports to guide your ordering process, you'll need another solution to manage this part of your business.
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