View of an empty restaurant with POS system sitting on bar

Best POS Systems for Restaurants

By Freddie Rohner, iHire

Considering taking the plunge and installing a POS system at your establishment? Unhappy with your current provider or interested in reviewing other options? Take a look at nine of the best POS systems for restaurants along with objective assessments of their pros and cons.

Breadcrumb – An iPad-based POS system with numerous features and pricing as low as $99/month, Breadcrumb was created by the folks at Groupon. It’s highly customizable with a simple setup process that takes a few days (or as little as several hours). Breadcrumb offers a range of management tools that can be accessed on an iPhone to monitor sales, guest counts, and week-over-week trends. There is also an offline mode that allows the system to continue creating checks, transmitting orders to the kitchen, and capturing credit cards without being connected to the internet.

Negatives: The ability to track inventory is limited and no eCommerce component is offered. A brief perusal of review sites turns up many customer complaints concerning poor service and slow response from the company when technological issues (or other problems) need to be addressed. Finally, some business owners have reported long waits to receive funds or additional validation requirements for larger transactions.

Additional review information:

http://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/breadcrumb-review/

 

ShopKeep – Another iPad POS system, ShopKeep was named Best POS System for Retailers by Business News Daily. It bills itself as a “full business management solution” and strives to streamline inventory, accounting, and staffing functions. ShopKeep offers a free trial and no-contract, pay-as-you-go monthly subscription ($49 per month). The hybrid setup it utilizes allows the app to run locally on an iPad and sync with the cloud once connected to the internet. The user interface is very intuitive, it’s easy to setup, and ShopKeep provides dedicated customer service by email, live chat, and phone (this client-centric attitude has earned the company additional recognition).

Negatives: The per-register pricing can be prohibitive for smaller, mom-and-pop type operations that may only need additional registers for peak sales periods. There is no eCommerce integration at the moment. Some reviewers mentioned challenges for businesses with multiple sales channels. Users have also reported problems with ShopKeep’s recommended iCMP credit card swiper dropping its Bluetooth connection with the register and requiring a “warm reboot” to continue processing sales (creating slowdowns and loss of confidence with the system as a whole).

Additional review information:

https://www.trustradius.com/reviews/shopkeep-pos-2015-04-21-12-42-38

 

Square Point of Sale – Best known as the mobile credit card processor with the little square component you can plug into your smartphone, Square took the next step and developed a free POS application that essentially works like the company’s original mobile app on steroids. Square Point of Sale provides offline payment processing, customizable item descriptions, inventory tracking, advanced reporting/analysis using QuickBooks and Xero integration, and additional (but limited) hardware capability. It also comes with the same Square per-transaction pricing model (2.75% swiped, 3.5% plus $0.15 keyed).

Negatives: Square Point of Sale's list of cons is a short one, but the impact of its drawbacks is huge. Square offers an easy signup process that contains no real underwriting process. Because of this, Square’s only way of safeguarding against fraud is to place holds on a user’s account if any activity is deemed suspicious. Often, these account holds occur with zero warning. There is also minimal customer support that comes with Square Register so any issues, glitches, or billing disputes can cause extended problems because of an absence of recourse for the client and a lack of timely response from Square.

Additional review information:

https://www.cardpaymentoptions.com/credit-card-processing/square-register/

 

Dinerware – This Microsoft-based POS system boasts a flexible design suitable for everyone from small bistros and fine-dining restaurants to large pubs. In addition to their core features such as menu building, table management, and sales reporting, Dinerware also offers a tablet POS option and a web-based management tool called Home Office that enables owners/GMs to monitor business remotely.

Negatives: Dinerware tends to be a more expensive investment than most tablet-based systems, although it is also more reasonable than a lot of legacy POS brands. The fact that Dinerware works with independent dealers means there is no consistent pricing structure, support plan, or hardware purchasing/leasing option.

Additional review information:

https://community.spiceworks.com/product/14947-dinerware

 

NCR SilverThis cloud-based POS system comes from NCR Corporation (makers of the world’s first cash register). Like a lot of the other entries on this list, NCR Silver employs a hybrid setup that uses an iPad app for register-specific tasks while incorporating web-based tools for inventory, staffing/timekeeping, customer rewards, financial reports, etc. It’s important to note that NCR Silver is geared toward small and medium-sized businesses (this way it doesn’t pilfer market share from its big siblings, Aloha and Counterpoint). NCR Silver is also able to be integrated with accounting software QuickBooks and Xero. Plans start at $59–$79 for one terminal.

Negatives: Some of the tools for full-service restaurants could be improved upon, and NCR Silver could provide more resources for scheduling and workforce planning. Any complaints beyond those two could be called nitpicking, though. NCR Silver’s quality, ease of use, and dedicated customer support have helped it earn much industry recognition, including the 2015 Silver Award and Excellence Award from TopTenReviews.com.

Additional review information:

http://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/ncr-silver-review/

 

Revel – Revel is made specifically for the iPad and tailored more for larger enterprises such as franchises, catering services, and restaurants with multiple locations. In addition to eCommerce functionality, Revel also boasts lots of extra features like payroll administration, real-time inventory, QuickBooks integration, flexible ordering, customer and employee management tools, and a comprehensive reporting suite. There are also a bunch of add-ons to choose from. It’s a bit on the expensive side ($119 per month for one terminal), but Revel doesn’t require a contract or charge cancellation fees. However, they do demand 30 days advance notice prior to cancellation.

Negatives: The primary grievance seems to be subpar technical support, especially where QuickBooks is concerned. A number of unflattering reviews on several websites can be attributed to poorly prepared helpdesk technicians unable to troubleshoot issues quickly and accurately. Other users have complained that the initial setup process is arduous, with much time dedicated to structuring menus, products, and inventory.

Additional review information:

http://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/revel-systems-review/

https://www.cardpaymentoptions.com/point-of-sale/revel-systems/

 

TouchBistro – “The Best POS System for Restaurants” according to the folks at Business News Daily, TouchBistro is another entry on this list designed to be used on an iPad. Because of this, startup costs are fairly low (less than $1,000) and the system itself is mobile, flexible, and technologically advanced. Monthly costs run $69 for one terminal, $129 for two, and $399 for unlimited access. The features TouchBistro includes are focused entirely on the restaurant industry and allow users to create color-coded floor plans, customize orders for choosy diners, split bills for large parties, automatically send orders to the kitchen, and compile critical reports to help manage and grow the business.

Negatives: Since TouchBistro is not a cloud-based system, your data is only saved on your iPad or a local network (if you have multiple iPads in use, you’ll need to spring for the Pro Server Application, which acts as a central hub for data storage and is able to sync with all your devices). The other complaint about TouchBistro is that it is strictly an iPad POS system, does not support any other type of tablet, and is not compatible with Windows.

Additional review information:

https://www.cardpaymentoptions.com/point-of-sale/touchbistro/

 

Ambur – Ambur uses cloud-based software created for the iOS, which means this POS system can be operated on a range of Apple devices including iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. All of the standard features are included such as ordering, wireless transmission to kitchen printers, and checkout. In addition, you can run payroll, organize schedules, formulate sales reports, manage inventory, and review customer purchasing patterns. Another thing that sets Ambur apart is its pricing model. A two-year licensing fee costs $999 and allows the system to be installed and used on an unlimited number of devices in a single location. This makes it well-suited to a small mom-and-pop restaurant.

Negatives: Reviews for Ambur online are overwhelmingly positive and the system has received 5 stars on Merchant Maverick. However, no POS system is perfect and some users have suggested a number of features that Ambur should incorporate including the ability to sign for a credit card purchase directly on the iPad/iPhone/iPod, the capability to email or text receipts, the addition of subcategories to help with navigating menus and finding specific items, improved inventory management capabilities, and a more visually appealing user interface.

Additional review information:

http://www.posoptions.com/pos-reviews/ambur/

 

Lavu – Yet another iPad-based POS system, Lavu differentiates itself through its intuitive functionality and sheer volume of features. Lavu offers all of the expected elements like terminal and tableside ordering, the ability to split checks, discount application, and order transfer. There’s a lot more customization that can be done, however. Lavu enables users to select table, tab, or quick serve layouts to best serve a range of businesses. Table and course/menu management, reporting/analytics, employee oversight, inventory control, and cash flow tracking for non-sale items are just some of the additional resources available. Lavu’s pricing is decent, although it may be more accessible for medium-sized eateries than small businesses. Packages start at $88/month with no licensing fee (one terminal and one mobile device) or $79/month with a $1,495 licensing fee (two terminals and ten mobile devices).

Negatives: Many customers have criticized Lavu for being buggy, although this seems to have been more of a problem earlier in the product’s existence and these types of reviews are becoming less common. Other users have mentioned issues with specific features such as delivery, employee scheduling, CRM, and inventory tools.

Additional review information:

http://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/pos-lavu-review/

http://www.capterra.com/restaurant-pos-software/spotlight/118828/Lavu/Lavu

 

Additional Sources:

Teddy Nykiel – 7 of the Best POS Systems for Restaurants

Dorothy Creamer & Abigail A. Lorden – POS Software Trend Report 2015

POS Options – POS Industry Comparison

Sara Angeles – Best POS Systems 2015


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