Perhaps you’ve heard of “the cloud.”
It’s a place where all kinds of data is stored. All of your Google searches? Those are saved in the Google cloud. Your Amazon purchases? Those are stored in the Amazon cloud. Your restaurant customer information and data? Those could be instantly accessible in your cloud.
The thing is, the cloud is not a nebulous, omnipotent information system in the sky. It simply refers to any software or service that is run from the Internet rather than your ever-glitching Windows XP computer. (Why do you still own that thing?!)
When restaurateurs evaluate new restaurant management software, they often have the choice between a cloud-based POS vs traditional POS. They’re presented with obvious benefits of the latter - the cloud allows for frequent and automatic upgrades of the system, it can be totally integrated with loyalty and online ordering programs, and it allows for complete transparency of restaurant customer data.
However, even with these advantages, they’re hesitant to switch to web-based software. They’ve heard rumors that the cloud just isn’t reliable. There must be something it can’t do.
The truth is, your cloud POS system is just as powerful as the Internet.
Let’s prove it by addressing and debunking 7 common myths about web-based restaurant POS systems.
POS security is probably the most important issue to address. The restaurant data in your restaurant management system should be secure, protected, and encrypted at all times. There are many debates about whether cloud-based or back-office servers are more secure.
Back-office servers (or servers that sit in your back office) store sensitive data on-premise, often unencrypted, for long periods of time. Cloud-based servers don’t store sensitive credit card information in a back room; instead, this data is immediately encrypted and sent over to a separate secure network. Since this data is not stored in servers on your property, that means our customers are not at risk of having or being accountable for on-site data breaches. Devices can also be monitored constantly, detecting suspicious activity or rogue access points.
A common misconception is that web-based POS systems can’t perform at scale for large restaurants. Many think they are better suited for cafes, or smaller restaurants that fill less orders in a night than large quick-serve restaurants. Many people are worried that, at their busiest time, the cloud system may glitch or freeze, affecting turn time.
However, a well-built cloud POS system with hardware and software built specifically for the restaurant industry will be able to serve a myriad of guests without missing a beat. For example, in one night, a Toast customer broke their own record and served 6,000+ total guests, keeping turn time well under a minute.
It’s true that your Internet speed will directly impact your cloud POS system’s speed, just like loading websites and watching videos online. If your restaurant currently has a lagging web connection or small bandwidth, running large reports on your restaurant sales, labor, and more could take a few minutes. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The solution? Higher bandwidth connections. If you currently have a wifi connection in your restaurant, your POS product specialist can run a speed test of your current wifi performance and evaluate whether it will be sufficient for the new system. If you don’t have in-house wifi at all (and there are many reasons why you should, besides cloud POS capability), your web-based restaurant POS partner should work with you to suggest the routers and access points that will work best in your restaurant based on square footage.
Yes, cloud-based POS systems are reliant on the Internet. However, many have an offline mode, a built-in functionality that keeps the business running even in the event of a lost Internet connection (thanks Internet providers).
The restaurant system can detect when a wifi connection has been lost and automatically switch to offline mode, where you can still take orders and send information to your tablets or printers. When the Internet is finally reconnected, all reports from that time period will be automatically synced back into the cloud.
Legacy POS systems require restaurateurs to invest a large amount of money in their computer system and hardware. Then, they have to employ an IT professional to set up the system, pay for support inquiries, and invest another large sum of money when the system needs to be maintained or upgraded.
Cloud-based and web-based POS systems reduce costs by offering a monthly subscription service with typically minimal upfront costs. The monthly fee, which depending on the vendor can vary from $80 and $150/month per terminal and tablet device, covers software, support, backups, and future upgrades. Even better, restaurateurs save money and time in the long run by not having to wait for IT or support to solve issues (See more about how much a restaurant system costs here.)
The biggest benefit of moving to the cloud is integrated data. With a cloud-based system, restaurateurs can automatically sync sales, payments, inventory, CRM, labor and menu data across all locations and always have an accurate, consolidated understanding of their restaurant’s financial and long-term health.
The great thing about the cloud is that it can sync across multiple devices. Just like you can access your email on your phone, your computer, and your tablet, you can access restaurant POS reports across many different systems anytime, anywhere. In fact, if you own multiple restaurant locations, the cloud syncs data from all locations, so you can check the sales in your New York location while sitting at home in California.
Not only can you analyze restaurant reports from anywhere, you can also click a button to perform standardized upgrades over every single location. Some POS systems will even offer automatic upgrades, so the system updates during your down-time (say, 4 a.m.).
I’m not going to sugarcoat this one: Switching to the cloud can be quite a process. You need to transfer your floor plan, your menu, and your current restaurant data to the new system.
Luckily, some web POS partners will do all of this for you - for free. Just send them your current customer information in a spreadsheet, your menu in a PDF, and your floor plan in a drawing, and the project manager and menu specialist will work hard to get your system set up as soon as possible. A designated training team will then educate your entire team on using the system. They may even give you goodies like informative videos and handbooks to peruse before and after the training session.
While “the cloud” may be a confusing term, cloud POS systems are convenient and straightforward. And while it’s not foolproof - because what technology is? - it is a worthy investment that will keep paying for itself every month. With secure restaurant data and visibility to sales reporting, labor reporting, online ordering, catering, and so much more, it just makes sense to move to the cloud.
Have more questions about “the cloud”? Leave a comment below!