Choosing the best restaurant POS system is one of the most important decisions a restaurateur has to make.
Pick the right one and it can help untap streams of revenue you hadn’t been able to access before. Choose the wrong one and you have to work around it until you decide to switch yet again.
With that in mind, we put together a list of the 10 most valuable restaurant POS features for 2018 according to restaurateurs. While you're reading, don't forget to follow along with your restaurant POS comparison tool to help with your research.
2018’s Must-Have Restaurant POS Features and Benefits
1) Simplicity and Efficiency
One-third of restaurateurs plan on upgrading their POS system within the next 12 months as a way of staying ahead of the competition.
Meanwhile, one-quarter already updated their system in the past year, according to our recently published Restaurant Technology report.
The urgency restaurateurs feel to switch is due in large part to two reasons:
- Feeling the limitations of legacy systems while envying the benefits that a modern POS system provides.
- The simplicity of modern POS systems comes from the ability to centralize all restaurant operations into an all-in-one technology.
Running a restaurant with multiple technologies working independently is inefficient, time-consuming, and not cost-effective. Being able to sync features like online ordering, inventory, and reporting with one simple, intuitive system allows restaurants to operate as close to optimally as possible and gives them the best chance to compete in the unforgiving restaurant landscape.
2) Reliable Hardware
Investment in restaurant hardware is a sizable upfront cost. For that reason, restaurateurs only tend to buy the minimum amount of hardware necessary.
So naturally, if any one of the limited pieces of hardware in a restaurant goes down, it puts an extra burden on the staff and operations. When this happens at peak hours it can drastically cut into a restaurant’s profitability.
In our Restaurant Technology Report, 95% of restaurateurs agreed that technology improves their restaurant’s efficiency. Easy-to-use, reliable hardware is one of the most sought-after restaurant POS features for 2018 because restaurateurs realize how much their success hinges on it.
3) Software Updates
We’ve become conditioned by our phones to rely on software updates that fix bugs and roll out product enhancements.
POS software updates are no different.
One of the features that restaurant operators value the most in their POS systems is the innovative, regular software updates. Functionality like real-time menu management and streamlined online ordering allow a restaurant to run more smoothly. As new features like these are introduced, they can easily be integrated into your operations through new software updates.
4) Valuable Reporting and Analytics
Sunlight has been called the best disinfectant. Shining a light and gaining better visibility into your reporting and analytics can be the best way to improve a sickly bottom line.
An all-in-one restaurant POS system serves as the collection point for all of a restaurant’s reporting. Visibility of this level helps restaurants adjust their menu based on past month’s exact sales, shift employee scheduling to unexpectedly busy times, and reduce waste with more accurate inventory practices.
5) Ability to Customize by Restaurant Types
Not all restaurants are the same. What a single food truck needs from its POS system is very different from an enterprise franchise of full service restaurants. A POS system shouldn’t be a monolith but rather something that can be easily customized to fit the exact needs of a specific restaurant.
More restaurateurs are seeking out POS providers that allow them to build the ideal combination of hardware and software so they have all they need but still remain lean and efficient. This benefits restaurants in the long term as they aren’t saddled with add-ons they are paying for but don't need.
6) Loyalty, Gift Cards, and CRM
Restaurants that use loyalty programs get customers to spend 39% more than non-loyalty guests, while diners spend up to 72% more on average when paying with a gift card. Loyalty and gift card programs are great ways to incentivize customers to visit more frequently and to spend more per visit.
The ability for restaurateurs to integrate their loyalty and gift card programs with the POS system means they can engage loyal customers with targeted marketing, drive them back into the restaurant and make better decisions based on customer behavior.
7) Online Ordering Integration
The two primary benefits of a restaurant POS with integrated online ordering are:
- Integrated online ordering eliminates vendor fees on the restaurant’s end.
- Orders don't have to be re-entered, reducing an order’s turnaround time.
Restaurants no longer have to pay a third party to act as an intermediary and because the order doesn’t have to be routed through an external vendor, order times are on average 4-5 minutes quicker. Online ordering has recently been shown to increase average order size 26% more than call-in and walk-in orders, so expect more restaurants to shift their business models to accommodate this in 2018.
8) Tableside and Kiosk Ordering
Three pieces of restaurant POS hardware that are expected to become increasingly popular in 2018 are mobile POS tablets, tableside payment, and self-service kiosk systems. Restaurateurs and customers alike see the value in the convenience of each.
- Mobile POS tablets allow servers to send orders more quickly and improve customer wait time.
- Pay at the table lets customer review their bill, pay and leave without delay.
- Self-service restaurant kiosks have been shown to increase ticket sizes by 5-10 % and are being rolled out of nationwide quick restaurants like Shake Shack and Wendy’s.
Features like these are leading indicators of how automation is already impacting the restaurant space.
9) Customer Support
As more POS systems become cloud-based, it’s important that restaurants have responsive and helpful customer support. With profitability sometimes decided during the most important hours of the week, it’s important that your POS never goes down, and if it does there is a backup option until everything is completely resolved.
Some cloud-based POS systems have developed offline modes, where if internet does go down, the system synchronously switches to offline mode and continues to run uninterrupted. If the problem extends beyond this, the best restaurant POS providers have technicians on-call waiting to diagnose the system’s issues.
10) Inventory Tracking and Management
Real-time inventory updates provide restaurateurs a better sense of their data and allow them to make smarter decisions on reorder and menu profitability. Restaurant inventory software integrated with a POS system gives a new level of granularity into how over-portioning, waste, spillage, and theft are cutting into the bottom line.