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TouchBistro Review

By
Lori Fairbanks
,
business.com writer
|
Jan 06, 2020
DERO2084 / Getty Images
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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

TouchBistro

The Best POS Systems of 2020

The Verdict

TouchBistro is a versatile and affordable restaurant POS app for iPad that has an impressive collection of features to help you manage your menus, orders, payments and staff. It earns our pick for best restaurant POS for iPads.

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

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, 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). 

TouchBistro has software-only plans, as well as bundled plans that include both POS software and hardware. Both options have four subscription tiers, and the posted prices are based on annual billing. The tier you pay for is determined by the number of licenses (or iPads) you'll use; every tier includes all of TouchBistro's features and allows you to add an unlimited number of users to the system. The terms of service are on the company's website, so you should read them before signing up (as you would with any POS system). 

POS Software-Only Plans

With the software-only plan, your contract length is one year. 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 $399 per month and, as the name suggests, does not limit the number of licenses. 

POS Bundled Plans

TouchBistro also offers bundled plans that include both POS hardware and software. As always, buying your POS hardware outright is your least expensive option over the long term. If you do decide a bundled plan is the right option for you, be aware that you're entering a three-year contract. You should read it carefully before signing so you are mindful of any additional fees or penalties you may be subject to, the renewal policy, and the cancellation procedure.

  • The Solo plan costs $105 per month.
  • The Dual plan costs $229 per month.
  • The Team plan costs $389 per month.
  • The Unlimited plan costs $539 per month. 

POS Hardware

TouchBistro uses iPads as the POS terminals. You can use the iPad, iPad Pro or 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 also have the option to set up additional 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 a restaurant POS system. 

Restaurant Features

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. 

You can add photos, ingredient lists and allergy information for each menu item, helping your staff introduce new menu items to customers or answer their questions about the menu. You can add custom modifiers, and if you want servers to upsell, you can set up the system to prompt them 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. 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. An integration for a liquor control device is available. 

TouchBistro includes catering and delivery tools, which help you efficiently manage the takeout side of your restaurant. However, if you want diners to have the option of ordering online, you'll need to use a third-party integration, as this feature isn't natively included in the software. 

If you want to accept reservations, you can subscribe to TouchBistro Reservations for $229 per month. It integrates directly with this POS system or can be used on its own. It allows your customers to book and manage reservations for your restaurant through your website, Google Search and Maps, or TouchBistro's new website and mobile app called TB Dine. It has automatic SMS and email reminders to reduce no-shows, and two-way texting so guests can confirm or cancel. It has a space for reservation notes, alerting your staff to allergies, dining preferences or special occasions. 

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 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 fully cloud-based system that doesn't require you to set up a local network, you may want to look at other options. 

Also, the tablets you use as POS terminals must be iPads, and the computer you use for the network must be a Mac. 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. 

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. 

Other potential concerns are add-on costs and third-party integration availability. TouchBistro offers some impressive add-ons for loyalty programs and reservations, but they're pricier than similar add-ons from its competitors. It also offers fewer third-party integrations than other POS providers.

TouchBistro

TouchBistro

The Best POS Systems of 2020

The Verdict

TouchBistro is a versatile and affordable restaurant POS app for iPad that has an impressive collection of features to help you manage your menus, orders, payments and staff. It earns our pick for best restaurant POS for iPads.

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks
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 for business.com and Business News Daily about financial systems and services for small businesses, such as accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems.