A point-of-sale system is essential for every restaurant. Point of sale (POS) systems for restaurants are a computerized network, where a main computer is connected to checkout terminals as well as other devices like barcode scanners and card payment terminals. The software supporting a POS system makes it possible for restaurants to customize their menus, easily add promotions and change prices. There are many POS systems and cloud-based solutions available to restaurants, and of particular interest to restaurateurs is how much they cost. The pricing model of a POS for restaurants is different for comprehensive software products and hardware solutions to which the restaurant owner acquires a license and cloud-based solutions working on a subscription model, and each entails a different cost for the restaurant.
When looking at the prices of pos systems for restaurants, one also has to take into account the different features offered by the given software and computer systems, and how these features, some which may be essential for your business, justify the cost. Leaders in POS systems for restaurants have already emerged, with some dedicated specifically to the gastronomical industry.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the leading POS systems and software for restaurant management and compare their prices and costs. Useful features of POS systems for restaurants will be described, and the popularity of individual solutions will also be compared.
POS System Hardware
From cash registers, barcode scanners, tablets, cellphones, terminals, all the way to readers and computers, the essence of a POS system is connecting all these devices into a network intended for processing sales and conducting operations. POS system hardware can be rather expensive, and is often provided by POS solution providers as an option, subject to a fee. Some POS systems make it possible to save a lot on (or pay nothing for) hardware, while others focus on providing top-of-the line devices made to last. When considering a POS solution for your restaurant, you definitely need to take into account the needs of your business when it comes to hardware. For example, if your restaurant also runs a deli, you will need to integrate your scales with the POS solution of your choice.
Features of POS Systems and Software for Restaurants
We’ll start with the features, since that is where the crux of the POS issue lies when it comes to restaurants. In particular, restaurants with multiple locations that offer dine-in and take-out simultaneously may require special features that other types of restaurants, like cafes, do not need. Identifying the features of the POS system for your restaurant will help you to estimate the cost of such computer systems before you make a decision on which POS solution to choose.
Table management is a big feature available in most POS solutions. POS systems allow restaurants to customize their floor layouts. Your staff will appreciate a POS system that makes their work easier and more streamlined, and which makes it easier to track every customer’s order and process payments. Rest assured, all of the POS systems you can readily find online offer this feature and have implemented it well.
Some POS systems also have the feature of employee management. These are solutions that track the work times of every staff member, ensuring continuity of operation during business hours. This also involves payroll management, since the POS system logs every sale made and who made it. In addition, tips can also be managed, which is very convenient for both restaurant owners and their staff.
Another big feature is inventory management. POS systems are great at tracking inventory stocks as well as prices per unit and other inventory statistics useful for restaurants. When properly set up, a POS system can tell you exactly how much profit your restaurant made during a workday, based on the cost of spent inventory. In the past, the sale software and inventory software were separate entities, and POS systems now integrate both of them and many others into a single, comprehensive system, and this has greatly benefited restaurants in particular.
More features offered by POS systems include integration of online ordering, automated ordering, sales reports and CRM (Customer Relations Management). When it comes to ordering, POS systems process payments and handle all the sales channels a restaurant may have. CRM is a useful feature as well, with every step of the customer service process being addressed by the given POS system. Combined with data gathering and analysis, it is a powerful tool in the hands of a shrewd restaurateur.
If you have connectivity issues at your location, or simply never want your business to be totally dependent on the Internet, you want offline functionality as a feature in your restaurant’s POS system. This feature is available in many POS solutions, so you still have a lot to choose from if you consider it a necessity.
Top POS Systems for Restaurants
Here, we will run through the top POS systems for restaurants and compare their features and prices, or pricing models, where applicable. These POS solutions are all extremely popular, since they offer restaurants a high degree of convenience when it comes to handling orders and processing payments. Add to that a series of other useful features, and we can safely say that restaurateurs get quite a bit of bang for their buck.
Square is one of the biggest POS brands out there, and for one simple reason. It is very flexible when it comes to hardware. The user can configure their own tablets or cellphones into a POS system without the need for any additional hardware. But if Square users prefer, they also have a wide range of Square hardware to choose from, from registers and readers to terminals. This is why many small business owners prefer Square.
In terms of cost, Square charges 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction, and the software itself is free to download and use, which is generally considered to be a simple and transparent pricing model. Business processing more than $250,000 per year with an average order size of over $15 can receive volume discounts upon contacting Square for a custom price plan. This makes Square a good fit for businesses of all sizes, even large ones.
Helcim offers the best in POS hardware and provides excellent e-commerce support. It is also very flexible when it comes to accepting payment options. In addition, it makes it very easy for a restaurant owner to transfer their existing product catalogue over to the Helcim software. What Helcim truly excels at, however, is e-commerce. The Helcim website even allows users to create their own online stores using the Helcim platform.
When it comes to the price of this POS system for restaurants, plans start at $20 a month, with a free trial period of 3 months. Helcim’s average transaction rates depend on your monthly volume, so, as with any other POS system, you need to do some quick calculations before you decide if it is right for you.
Shopify is highly oriented towards stores that offer in-store and online sales. But since the Shopify POS system enables you to accept payments anywhere in-store, it is also suitable for restaurants. Shopify also offers customer loyalty program management, so you can set up any promotions you want or even use Shopify’s ready solutions. Shopify has many features dedicated for stores, like returns and exchanges of items purchased online at local retail locations. This POS software also offers inventory management, which many businesses may find essential.
The Shopify POS is included in the cost of the Shopify plan, and these plans are priced from $29 a month for the Basic version to $299 a month for the Advanced version. The higher the version, the smaller the in-person transaction fee (by 0.1-0.2% per tier, starting from 2.7% for Basic, down to 2.4% for Advanced), the more staff accounts can be created, and the more store locations can be supported (up to 8 store locations – so if you run a larger chain, this POS is not for you).
This POS system is not as well-known as the ones above, but it provides the best inventory management in the industry, so it is definitely worthy of mention. From tracking unit costs to issuing alerts when stocks are low, and even handling orders for out-of-stock items pending delivery, Lightspeed lets even a modest business work according to the standards of bigger players. It also has solutions dedicated for restaurants, which is a big plus, as some other POS systems don’t. It also lets retailers and restaurants bundle products and manage variations of products (in the context of a restaurant, say, regular and gluten-free noodles, for example).
The cost of the Lightspeed POS system depends on the plan you choose, of course, and Lightspeed offers a discount if you make an annual subscription. Without an annual subscription, the price of Lightspeed POS starts from $79 per month for the Basic plan, and ends with the Pro plan, which costs $259 per month. An annual subscription saves you $10 per month and $30 per month on each plan, respectively.
QuickBooks stands out from the crowd of POS solutions, because it has an old-school pricing model, namely, the one-time purchase. This may make it seem quite expensive for some, while others will appreciate this model more. QuickBooks is known for its accounting solutions, primarily aimed at small businesses, but in the opinion of many, their POS system is often overlooked.
As you might expect of a company specializing in accounting solutions, it really streamlines the process and integrates POS with bookkeeping. Of course, it also offers integrations with third-party software, so if QuickBooks doesn’t happen to be your accounting software of choice, don’t let that preclude you from getting its POS.
Now to the cost of QuickBooks POS. It is standalone, licensed software that is purchased on a one-time basis. That means no subscription fees, one payment and you own the software. The Basic version costs $1,200, and the Multi-Store version costs $1,900. Choose your option carefully, because it is difficult to upgrade your version to a higher one later. Also, all POS hardware is sold separately, so you will also have to factor in the cost of all the devices you need in your restaurant’s POS system.
Picking the Right POS System for Your Restaurant
Hopefully, you have gained some knowledge about the prices of POS systems for restaurants and now know more or less what to expect when picking one out. The prices of restaurant POS software systems are rather affordable, but the transaction fee is usually the cost that hits restaurateurs hardest and drives up prices for their customers in turn. But if you were wondering how much restaurant pos systems cost, you should have an idea now if you do the math. Buying POS computer systems and hardware for restaurants can be quite a financial drain, so take advantage of the best option for your business, as there are many other POS solutions out there besides those listed here. As things now stand, the subscription model is winning out over the standalone one-time purchase model, and this is not expected to change in the future. Your POS system should serve you and your restaurant for a long time, with no hassle, failures or stress. If you are not satisfied with your current POS, don’t hesitate to make a change, as it represents, at the very least, a financial drain in the form of the transaction fee.