Why a Retail POS System for Restaurants is a No Good, Very Bad Idea

By: AJ Beltis

6 Minute Read

May 17, 2018

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Thinking of upgrading your POS system? Choose wisely, or you could make one of the worst investments of your career.

A retail POS (or point of sale)is a great tool to have - for a retail store. But you're not a retail store, you're a restaurant. You may be thinking of adopting a generic point of sale that isn't restaurant-specific. While this will work for your restaurant, it's still a bad idea.

Your point of sale system is integral to your business. You use it every day, all the time, every time you make a sale and cash someone out. Your staff will be using it. Your managers will be using it. Choose the right POS system and you can do a lot more with it than take orders.

Choose the wrong system and you'll be kicking yourself for a long, long time.

If you're about to sign a deal for a new POS that isn't restaurant-specific, put your pen down and read carefully. Here are the main reasons why a retail POS is a terrible, awful idea for your restaurant.

The Root of the Issue

Let's talk about the makings of a great POS system.

Like anything, creating and developing an outstanding point of sale takes dedication, creativity, and passion.

Problem is, the people dedicated towards making a retail POS aren't dedicated to restaurants. While some features may be cross-functional, this doesn't mean the system is ideal or even appropriate for restaurants. The company that develops this kind of system is dedicated to retail. I would argue that companies who develop a non-specific point of sale are simply dedicated to technology - not restaurants.

These companies may possess dedication, creativity, and passion. What they lack is dedication, creativity, and passion for restaurants.

Therein lies the root of the problem with retail POS systems in restaurants. On the surface, they may appear to be a good fit, but once you peek behind the curtain, these issues are exposed point blank.

What Does This Mean For My Restaurant?

I implore you - please do not look at point of sale providers with a "one size fits all" mentality.

You have many options for your point of sale system, just like you have many options for nearly all of the decisions you'll make in life.

retail pos system

For example, when you go car shopping, do you immediately go for the standard sedan? Four wheels, four doors, gets good mileage - it seems to get the job done, right?

You may shoot for the sedan, but what if you have a family of six? Maybe a minivan or an SUV would be better for your needs. If you do some off-road trekking, you may decide to buy a pickup truck or car with 4-wheel drive.

A car - like a POS system - comes in certain models, because buyers have certain requirements. A standard sedan will do just fine for most people, but others need more than that.

Your restaurant will probably get by with a retail POS, or one that isn't restaurant-specific, but does that mean it's the best choice for your restaurant?

No. It doesn't. To truly succeed, your restaurant needs more than the basics.

Feature Frenzy: 6 Features a Restaurant POS Can Offer that a Retail POS Can't

A retail POS system will let you add items up and close the bill. However, due to the innovative and modern features that a restaurant-specific POS has, using one made for retail can actually inhibit your restaurant's growth.

This is because restaurant POS systems are loaded with features that will enable you to stand out from your competitors. Let's talk about a few of them now.

1. Table Management

Retail POS systems don't always offer table management. Restaurant POS systems, having been built for restaurants, do.

2. Online Ordering

Why pay a portion of every order to third-party online-ordering sites when some restaurant POS systems integrate right into your system?

3. Analytics

What sold the best today? How can we develop sales forecasts? Which server makes the most tips? The analytics on a retail POS system aren't nearly as insightful as a restaurant POS system, and only the latter can answer all the questions that restaurant owners need answers to.

4. Customer Database

Who are your best customers? What do these customers love about you? Restaurant POS systems help you keep track of your most dedicated clientele with an integrated loyalty program and database of customer purchase trends.

5. Integrations

Controlling inventory, employee scheduling, sales, gift cards, loyalty, a customer database, and more from one system? Believe it or not, it's all possible with restaurant POS systems. The same can't be said for all retail POS systems.

6. Boosted Efficiency

Like I said, a retail POS will get the job done - but it won't get the job done right. Restaurant POS systems improve efficiency with features like restaurant kiosks and a software that helps increase table turn time by up to 20%.

The Numbers Don't Lie

There are two reasons why I'm writing this blog. First, I truly believe a retail POS has no place in a restaurant. Second, the numbers prove that a restaurant-specific POS system can improve restaurant operations dramatically.

Consider what restaurants using Toast POS, a restaurant-specific point of sale system, can see with this kind of POS:

  1. Tables are turned up to 15% to 20% faster.
  2. With improved efficiency, staff earns up to 30% more in tips.
  3. Time and money is saved with integrated sales reporting and inventory tracking.
  4. Restaurants create an insightful customer database for their repeat visitors.

Not all of that is possible with a retail POS. Restaurant-specific systems enable restaurants to achieve these results because the priority of these companies is to make the lives of restaurant owners easier - not to make the lives of retail managers easier.

Making the Right Choice For Your Restaurant

While you will be able to conduct transactions with a retail POS, a restaurant-specific point of sale is engineered by those committed to bettering the restaurant industry and those who work in it.

Because of this, pos systems for restaurants go beyond offering the bare minimum of features and allow restaurant owners to access insights and increase operations in a way that retail POS systems can't.

Have you made the switch from a retail POS system to one made for restaurants? Let us know what made you change things up and how it turned out!


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