Best Fast Casual and Fast Food POS Systems: 7 Must-Have Features
Whether it’s fast food or fast casual, there’s one thing in common: speed. Here are the top fast food technology features to help you provide a good customer experience.
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While you may consider yourself a small business owner, the fast food industry is certainly not small potatoes.
In 2019, there were approximately 194,395 quick service restaurants in the country, from ice cream parlors and pizza delivery joints to carry-out sandwich shops and, of course, major franchises like McDonald's.
And, in 2021, fast food revenue in the U.S. was $278 billion. That’s right — billion, with a b.
Even though fast food chains have been around for years, many concepts have changed considerably since their first burger hit the grill. From self-ordering kiosks and online ordering to digital dining solutions and guest engagement programs, there are so many technology options to improve your guest experience and make it easier for your staff — especially considering the ongoing restaurant worker shortage.
Whether you’re starting a fast food or fast casual restaurant for the first time or you’re a seasoned pro looking to upgrade your technology, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll discuss how Toast can help your restaurant get started or grow, outline the top features to consider when choosing a fast food POS system, and offer up additional resources to help you get set up for success.
So, let’s find you a POS that's quick enough to deliver on your fast service promise and feed more hungry customers.
Find the right POS for your restaurant's unique needs
Toast for fast casual and fast food
Toast's Starter Kit package is the ideal POS system for fast food or fast casual restaurants with fewer than 10 employees. You can choose between a countertop kit or a handheld kit, both of which come with free setup and installation support, a point of sale software subscription, and a router.
The Toast Pay as You Go plan keeps startup costs low by including Starter Kit Hardware for $0* (just pay shipping and taxes), and eliminating monthly POS software subscription fees. The payment processing fee covers all costs, meaning Toast only gets paid when you do. One flat rate applies for all credit card transactions, regardless of card type and entry method.
(Have more than 10 employees? Schedule a demo today with a Toast specialist to discuss which Toast products and packages would be best for you.)
With Toast, you can serve up orders fast with easy and efficient tools, all at your fingertips. From 24/7 reliability to flexible options for every budget, here's to finally getting that me time back.
But don’t just take it from us. Here’s what others have to say about Toast:
The best POS systems for fast food in 2022
Toast ranks #1 in the restaurant POS system category based on consumer reviews. G2 examines over 15 data points to determine market presence, using a combination of proprietary and third-party data, and exclusively uses consumer reviews to determine satisfaction. All of their scoring methodologies are explained in more detail on the G2 website, but we’ll provide a bit more information below.
How the G2 Grid Restaurant Review Scoring System Works
G2’s scoring system is based on thousands of customer reviews and a unique algorithm that helps to process the data and find meaningful patterns and results in real time. Here’s a breakdown of the different elements in the grid and scoring system.
- X-Axis: Satisfaction, based on user reviews and feedback
- Y-Axis: Market presence, based on proprietary usage data, third-party data, and customer reviews
- Top right quadrant — Leaders: The restaurant POS systems that have both strong customer satisfaction ratings and a strong market presence
- Ex. Toast, Square, Lightspeed
- Top left quadrant — Contenders: POS systems with weak satisfaction scores and a strong market presence
- Ex. NCR Aloha POS
- Bottom right quadrant — High performers: POS platforms with strong satisfaction scores, but a weak market presence
- Ex. Upserve, CAKE
- Bottom left quadrant — Niche: These platforms have weak satisfaction scores and a weak market presence
- Ex. POSitouch, Payfacto
The G2 scoring methodology and grid system incorporate several attributes to surface the most helpful reviews for prospective technology customers. Some of the factors in satisfaction rates include customer satisfaction with product features, popularity, quality of reviews, age of reviews, net promoter scores (NPS), and more.
The top 7 features of a fast food or fast casual POS system
1. Touchscreen point of sale (POS) terminals
Modern point of sale (POS) technologies, like touchscreen terminals, exist to increase efficiency. They should be able to withstand the rigors of the restaurant with durable hardware, and they should be able to ensure that you and your team are always operating at the pace folks expect in a fast food or fast casual environment.
Many POS systems today, especially those used by quick service restaurants, have guest-facing screens, which allow guests to follow along as they order, quickly pay, and tip on the screen. This improves order accuracy and speed so your team can keep the line moving.
Best-in-class POS terminals can also take credit card and mobile payments via a reader directly integrated with the POS. Whichever payment processing device you go with, make sure it supports contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) — like Apple Pay and digital wallets — Europay Mastercard and Visa (EMV), and Magnetic Stripe Card (MSR).
The POS terminal is basically the heart of your restaurant technology. When choosing which POS platform to use for your fast food or fast casual restaurant, keep speed, reliability, durability, and the ability to grow with your restaurant in mind.
2. Integrated online ordering
There’s no denying the power of online ordering — it’s growing 300% faster than in-house dining — but how can you implement it for your fast-paced restaurant?
Online ordering systems drive more revenue for your restaurant, allowing guests to order wherever and whenever. And with no one in line behind them, guests have the opportunity to linger over a menu with no pressure, making them more inclined to get that extra menu item. Plus, allowing the guest to place their own order online leads to more accurate orders, which means happier customers and less wasted inventory.
When choosing whether to go with a third-party online ordering service, such as Grubhub or UberEats, or an in-house online ordering solution, be sure to weigh the costs and benefits. While third-party services may allow you to reach new customers who haven’t heard about your restaurant before, they also come with a price: commission fees and no ownership over your own customer data. An in-house online ordering solution helps you control your brand and keep money in your pocket.
But if you do decide to use third-party online ordering services in addition to your own online ordering platform, be sure to go with one that directly integrates to avoid extra tablets cluttering the counter or double entry by your staff.
Overall, your customers are looking for you online — make sure your restaurant has a presence. Otherwise, they might go with another restaurant nearby instead.
3. Self-ordering kiosks
Convenient and contactless, self-ordering kiosks simplify the guest experience in quick service environments, like a fast food or fast casual restaurant.
Kiosks create a quick-and-easy ordering experience, allowing guests to customize their order with available add-ons and modifiers. They also streamline your front of house operations by freeing up your staff to handle important tasks elsewhere — an important benefit during a time of staffing challenges.
And, when you go with a cloud-based POS system like Toast, your kiosks are fully integrated with your POS. This means each order is sent directly from the kiosk to the line and allows for your staff to 86 an item or add daily specials from the POS terminal and have it reflected on the kiosks.
If you’re looking for a way to reduce wait times, put guests in control of their experience, and free up staff to handle other duties, look no further than self-ordering kiosks for your fast food or fast casual restaurant.
4. Mobile dining solutions and QR code capabilities
No one likes to wait, but that’s especially true when they’re hungry.
(Or should we say hangry?)
Mobile dining solutions, such as Toast Mobile Order and Pay™, allow guests to take control of their ordering experience by browsing the menu, ordering, and closing their check with contactless payment options.
With Toast, you can implement a custom QR code to scan to order, allowing guests to effectively serve themselves and keep staff focused on meal prep. Rather than standing at the counter, guests have the freedom to take a short walk, wait in their car, or head back to the office until they receive a text, automatically sent by Toast KDS, that their order is ready.
Plus, restaurants using Toast Mobile Order and Pay™ typically see an average 10% increase in revenue.1
For fast casual concepts that offer seating but no staffed table service, Toast Mobile Order & Pay™ is a great way to provide guests with the dining experience they want without pulling staff out of the kitchen or from behind the counter.
5. Inventory management
Having a handle on your inventory is important no matter what type of restaurant you’re operating. But when it comes to quick service restaurants, like fast food or fast casual concepts, the speed of business and perishable nature of the ingredients makes having a clear understanding of inventory even more important.
For example, the more fresh, perishable ingredients you use (looking at you, fast casual health concepts!) the higher your turnover should be to help prevent food waste. However, if your inventory turnover ratio is too high, it may mean you aren’t keeping enough stock on your shelves or maintaining par (periodic automatic replacement) levels.
These days, the pen and paper method of inventory management and even the slightly more technical Excel inventory strategy are not enough. Choosing a POS platform that has an integrated food inventory management tool can reduce the margin of error and give you time back to focus on serving food, not crunching numbers.
xtraCHEF by Toast allows restaurant owners, like you, to perfect menu prices with precise product mixes, balance instincts with insights for more prescriptive costing, and most importantly, reduce costs.
6. Customer engagement and loyalty programs
Whether your restaurant is serving up comfort food burgers and mac and cheese or fresh, made-to-order salads and grain bowls, there is likely a loyal regular in your community who’s thinking about your food as we speak.
Customer engagement and loyalty programs tap into your regulars by giving them rewards for coming back again and again. Plus, email marketing campaigns can help turn one-time guests into returning visitors.
After all, every regular starts with their first visit!
But when it comes to rewarding returning guests, gone are the days of punch cards and stamps. Toast Loyalty is a credit card-linked program that allows guests to accrue points with each swipe of their card. With an integrated loyalty program like Toast Loyalty, you can easily allow new customers to sign up with opt-in prompts on the checkout screen or self-ordering kiosks, helping you build your customer base without breaking a sweat. Plus, you can customize your sign-up bonuses, set accrual and redemption rates, and offer birthday rewards to tailor the experience to fit your brand and your budget.
And while restaurants may look to a third party for email marketing software, having one that is directly integrated with your POS means no more exporting your email addresses from one tool to another.
If your fast casual or fast food restaurant is located near an office park, college campus, or other high-trafficked area, loyalty programs can provide that extra incentive to keep guests coming back.
7. Detailed customer and sales reporting
One of the biggest challenges for any restaurant type is determining when, and how, to pivot your offerings — especially in the face of historic inflation. But it becomes a lot easier with the right restaurant POS software.
Choosing a POS platform that includes integrated reporting and analytics lets you keep pace with performance in real-time. Plus, cloud-based POS platforms like Toast allow you to access this data from anywhere, at any time. No more waiting days or weeks to review results. With Toast, you get automatic nightly business metrics straight to your inbox.
Curious how that new menu item is doing? A product mix report lets you track sales of a menu item across all your menus. Or maybe you want to reduce your business days due to the ongoing worker shortage? View performance on specific days of the week to identify which days are the slowest.
Integrated sales reporting helps you work smarter, not harder, and keep your fast food or fast casual restaurant serving meals with speed and ease.
Deliver faster service for your fast casual or fast food concept with the best restaurant technology
Trusted by thousands of fast casual restaurants of all sizes, Toast is built for you.
Set your restaurant up for success by opting for a cloud-based POS system, like Toast, that will grow with you and allow you to drive great hospitality — even without the table service.
At the end of the day, reliable POS hardware and software will both improve your business's bottom line and help your establishment become one of the hottest joints in town.
Related fast food and fast casual business resources
- 15 Surprising Facts and Statistics About The Fast Food Industry
- Fast Casual vs. Fast Food: What's the Difference?
- What Fast Food Kiosks Mean for the Future of the Fast Food Industry
- How Beach Hut Deli Uses Toast Enterprise POS at 45 Locations
- DK Sushi Uses Toast Kiosks to Deliver a Seamless Quick Service Guest Experience
- Your Guide to Restaurant Pay at the Table Technology
1 Based on performance at select Toast customers.
*Pricing applies to new customers and single locations only.