The tech industry is rampant with acronyms and vernacular that aren’t common knowledge.
What on Earth is “the cloud,” anyway? If you aren’t familiar with it, no sweat. Cloud computing simply refers to any software or service that is run from the Internet.
You may be surprised what falls under the “cloud computing” category, or what has the potential to. All of your Google searches are saved in the Google cloud. Your Amazon purchases are stored in the Amazon cloud. Your iPhone pictures can be accessed through iCloud. Additionally, your restaurant customer information and data could be instantly accessible in your company cloud.
When restaurateurs evaluate new restaurant management software, they often have the choice between a cloud-based POS or traditional POS. Although there are quite a few benefits to the cloud-based POS — such as frequent and automatic system upgrades, integration with loyalty and online ordering programs, and complete transparency of restaurant customer data — some are still hesitant to switch to a web-based software.
Whether you’ve heard rumors that the cloud isn’t reliable, you’re concerned over information security, or you flat out just don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about, we can help remove the veil on the mysterious cloud.
The truth is, a cloud POS system is just as powerful as the Internet. To prove it, we’re addressing and debunking 7 common myths about web-based restaurant POS systems.
Myth #1: A cloud-based restaurant POS system is less secure. It’s safer to have our data stored on physical servers.
POS security is the most important issue to address. We hear about data breaches all the time, nowadays. The restaurant data in your restaurant management system should always be secure, protected, and encrypted at all times for the sake of your entire business. Back-office servers store sensitive data on-premise, often unencrypted, for long periods of time.
Alternatively, cloud-based servers stores data that is immediately encrypted and sent over to a separate secure network. Since this data is not stored in servers on your physical property, that means cloud POS customers are not at risk of experiencing on-site data breaches, which helps reduce company liability. Furthermore, devices can also be continuously monitored to immediately detect suspicious activity or rogue access points.
Myth #2: It’s super difficult to migrate to the cloud after using pen and paper or legacy POS systems.
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.
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, 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 new system. They may even give you goodies like informative videos and handbooks to peruse before and after the training session, that way you know your new system from front to back.
Pete Minich, the owner of Fresh City, a leader in the fast-casual industry, talks about the ease and speed of setting up Toast at his six restaurant locations. “We rolled Toast out to all locations in just two weeks. The onboarding process was super easy. In one hour, you could train a whole restaurant,” said Pete.
Myth #3: There’s no way a cloud-based restaurant POS would be able to handle all the orders our restaurant fills in a night.
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-service restaurants. What happens if the cloud system glitches or freezes during a busy rush?
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. In fact, Odd Duck, a food truck gone full-service restaurant, found that using Toast drastically increased their ability to serve guests and fulfill tickets. “When we were using Aloha, we were serving 250 guests on a Friday night. We laugh about it now. We just finished the month of March and we're doing over 400 a night,” said Cory Neel, General Manager of Odd Duck. By serving more guests per night than ever before, Odd Duck was also able to increase their sales by $500,000 a year.
Myth #4: If the WiFi goes down, we lose our data and our ability to even take orders.
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.
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. Once the internet reconnects, all reports during that time period will be automatically synced back into the cloud.
Jon Schroeter, Director of Operations at Primo Pizza & Wings, spoke to his experience with Toast’s offline mode. “I used to lose $500 to $1,000 per store every time there was a lightning storm in Southwest Florida, the lightning capital of the world. With Toast’s offline mode, I’m already making my money back just by being able to continue to collect credit card information.”
A cloud-based system reinforces the reliability that you can run your business smoothly, even when bumps occur along the way - like lightning, if you live in Southwest Florida.
Myth #5: The cloud-based restaurant management software would be slower because it updates over the Internet.
Like loading a webpage or watching a video, your Internet speed will directly impact your cloud POS system’s speed. If your restaurant currently has a lagging web connection or small bandwidth, running large reports on your restaurant sales or labor 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 (though WiFi was rated the most important technology feature for guests), 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. Your guests will appreciate the upgrade as well.
Myth #6: Cloud-based restaurant POS systems are too expensive, and not worth the added benefit.
Legacy POS systems require restaurateurs to invest a large amount of money in their computer system and hardware. On top of the initial purchase, you’d 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. This alone can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Peter J. Newlin, President of Park Burger, said that the choice to switch to a cloud-based POS was obvious once he realized the price of outdated legacy systems. “I knew we had to switch to a cloud-based POS," he said. "To me, it makes absolutely no sense to pay $20,000 for a system that's been around for generations and has never updated."
Cloud and web-based POS systems reduce costs by offering a monthly subscription service with typically minimal upfront costs. The monthly fee 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 support to solve issues.
Another crucial 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. This helps to ensure they always have an accurate and consolidated understanding of their restaurant’s financial, long-term health. Data is always important to a business — no matter if you’re a family-owned coffee shop or part of a gigantic franchise.
Additionally, instant menu management, loyalty/rewards programs, credit-card pre-authorization, and various integration options are included with most cloud-based POS system offerings, while legacy competitors are only capable of offering the bare minimum.
Myth #7: The cloud will just affect my main system, not tablets in the dining room or printers in the kitchen.
The great thing about the cloud is that it can sync across multiple devices. Just like you can access your email on your phone, computer, and 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 will auto-update during your downtime (say, 4 a.m.).
The Bottom Line: Cloud POS Is More Than Capable
While “the cloud” may be a confusing term, cloud POS systems are convenient and competitive.. No technology is foolproof, so we’re not going to promise that. How many times has your iPhone glitched since you bought it? But cloud POS systems are a worthy investment that will pay for itself every month. With secure restaurant data and visibility to sales reporting, labor reporting, online ordering, catering, and so much more, it makes sense to improve the quality of your business, lessen the amount of energy you put into analytics and reporting, and serve guests more efficiently by moving to the cloud.