A point-of-sale system is used to facilitate a customer transaction. It’s the hardware and software that a merchant (and their staff) uses to help run the business; think of it as the central hub of your restaurant.
It’s important to remember that no two POS systems are the same. Run a quick Google search and you’ll find pizza POS systems, juice bar POS software, bar POS software, POS systems for takeaway, and any number of other alternatives. Each POS system has its own specific functionality, and will have benefits for different types of hospitality merchants.
When it comes to restaurants, an integrated point-of-sale system can help venue managers avoid issues such as running out of ingredients on a busy public holiday weekend. A POS system can also help ensure diners are appropriately scattered throughout your restaurant — which is particularly useful when social distancing measures are in place. Some POS systems even integrate with third-party delivery apps, enabling you to offer a delivery option without taking on the burden of organising drivers.
As far as hardware goes, each POS system is typically made up of a main server which — together with your EFTPOS machine — houses all the technology needed to run your restaurant and take payment from customers.
Where point-of-sale systems once had to be kept on business premises, thanks to the arrival of the cloud, they can now go wherever you do. Mobile point-of-sale systems can be run through iPads or other mobile devices, and one cloud POS solution can be used across multiple restaurant venues.
This means there are now generally three types of POS systems: traditional, self-service and mobile.
These legacy systems have been around for more than forty years, linking stationary terminals to an internal, back office server. While they can handle reservations, bill splitting, orders and inventory, they also require the regular payment of fees and maintenance, and don’t allow for offsite access. That means if you run multiple venues, you will need to pay for multiple POS systems — which adds up.
Harnessing the power of cloud and tablet technology, mobile POS systems allow you to access sales reporting and financial forecasts from a mobile device such as an iPad or phone — whether you’re on-site or not. Importantly, a mobile POS system enables you to easily integrate your other software and apps seamlessly into the system — strengthening its performance and potential.
This third POS option further streamlines restaurant operations by allowing customers to place their own orders, and complete their own transactions. Major takeaway brands like McDonalds and KFC adopted this technology years ago — leaning into younger generations’ propensity for technology, reducing labour costs, and meeting the increasing desire for on-demand delivery.
Whether you’re opening a new restaurant, re-opening your doors after lockdown, or simply looking for ways to revamping your restaurant operations, finding the right POS solution for particular needs is important.
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when weighing up your options.
Lagging systems cause frustration for customers, particularly at the end of a nice meal. In order to transact swiftly and reliably, look for a restaurant POS system that integrates with your EFTPOS machine.
Similarly, make sure your EFTPOS machine enables staff to take payment from customers in seconds so that they can get on their way.
A restaurant POS system could be the most advanced and intricate product available, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good fit for your business. You want to look for something that’s only as intricate as you need it to be, or you’re sacrificing ease of management for unnecessary apps and features.
The best way to tell if a POS system is easy to use is to view a product demonstration. That way, you can judge the simplicity of key restaurant processes for yourself. The easier it is to use, the faster the checkout process — both for your staff, and your customers.
If you want to know how much food you have on hand, what it costs and its profit margin, you’re going to need inventory control (or at least the ability to integrate the right inventory features). This is a key feature for every restaurant.
Some POS systems will notify you when stock runs low, and even automate the reordering process. In selecting a restaurant POS system, make sure to consider how much of your inventory management you’d like to automate. Your system could be a big time-saver.
Access to KPI reports can be priceless in terms of optimising your business operations, especially if you can access them remotely.
If it takes more than a minute or two to add a new menu item to your system or update a price, that’s an indication there are more straightforward and intuitive options out there. And, if you offer the option to customise dishes, you’ll need a system that can support easy ingredient switches — and communicate those changes to the kitchen.
Many restaurants require booking capabilities. If your business doesn't already accept bookings, now might be the time to consider starting. There are countless operational efficiencies that flow from a full run-sheet.
Zeller research shows 82% of Australians would book in advance.
Look for a restaurant POS system that will help you take bookings the way that suits you, as you have a couple of options. If your chosen POS system can’t do it, be sure it can at least communicate with the right tool via a restaurant POS integration.
The value of your POS is completely redundant if you’re not able to use it. The best POS providers will ensure you’re properly trained on all functions and features — whether that’s through online tutorials, help documents, or an active support team.
Not all systems are supported by quality service. The best way you can find out whether you’ll be able to find help when you need it is to test the POS system support for yourself. Call the support number listed on their website — how long are you on hold? Are they able to answer your questions in a clear and straightforward way?
Similarly, if a POS system doesn’t come with a powerful marketing functionality that helps you pursue revenue growth, you need to be sure it can speak to the programs that do.
For more guidance on choosing the right features, visit the blog.
Now that you know what you expect from a POS system, make sure you look at a few options before deciding which one suits your business needs.
If you’ve already started searching, you’ll have realised that there are a number of retail POS systems in Australia — and the options can be overwhelming. But just like you can browse restaurant reviews on Zomato, you can search industry-specific websites for retail POS software. Start by looking at:
Don’t be afraid to also speak to other restaurants to get a better idea of the products available.
Now that you know the value of the right POS system, it’s time to optimise every other aspect of your business. Sign up to the Business Blog to cash in on valuable insights sent straight to your inbox.