As the restaurant industry continues to be disrupted by the digital revolution, one could argue that an effective point-of-sale (POS) system is one of the most indispensable tools for any modern restaurant.
According to a recent industry report, the POS terminals market value is predicted to reach $98.27 billion by 2022. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 13.5 percent.
As diners demand a more customized experience and restaurant owners rely more on data to make informed business decisions, a POS system is at the heart of the action. It acts as the intersection where real-time business transactions and analytical reporting meet.
If you’re a restaurant owner, it’s highly important to keep track of the latest trends in POS technology so you can stay ahead of the competition. In this article, we’ll cover:
- The evolution of POS technology
- Why restaurants are improving their POS systems
- The importance of POS integrations
- Different types of POS systems
- How to choose the right POS system
The Evolution of POS
Over the years, POS systems have evolved from a simple cash register to a feature-rich system that goes beyond only handling payments. Modern POS systems have evolved to tracking restaurant kitchen inventory, processing orders, sending order tickets to the kitchen, providing detailed reporting and business management features, and more. The high volume of credit card and cash payments that pass through an establishment each day make a POS system a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.
The days of cash registers, stationary credit card readers, and basic systems are long gone. POS systems continue to evolve as restaurateurs, owners, and diners demand the features that didn’t exist twenty years ago.
Why Restaurants are Improving their POS Systems
One of the best ways restaurant owners can streamline operations and generate more revenue is by implementing the right technology. POS systems today go beyond billing and transactions. For example, there are POS upgrades that can protect against data theft or offer guest relationship management capabilities. Another vital benefit of POS systems is mobile enablement, which uses tablets for payment processing and ordering. In some restaurant categories, such as quick-service restaurants, POS mobility can go a long way toward becoming more cost-effective and increasing revenue.
All in all, these upgrades ultimately enhance the guest experience, but some restaurant operators remain reluctant to embrace upgraded tech solutions. Some subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mindset, which others simply don’t understand the vast range of benefits a next-generation, mobile-enabled, cloud-based system designed explicitly for the workflows of a restaurant can deliver.
The Importance of POS Integrations
The quality of food, guest experience, and service will always make or break a restaurant’s success. To ensure standards are being met across the business, you need a POS system that won’t fail you and will provide individualized assistance in all aspects of operations.
Restaurants can gain many important functionalities from POS integrations, including kitchen and employee management, delivery and inventory management, accounting, and more. Customer engagement integrations, such as loyalty programs, can also provide a high return on investment.
Here’s a list of some benefits that come with POS integrations.
Utilize data to make business decisions
POS systems can be integrated with customer engagement platforms to collect valuable data on your diners, which can be analyzed to give you actionable insights. You can gather information on where your customers are from, how often they visit your restaurant, what time and day they are most likely to visit, and what their most ordered menu items are.
You can use this data to create targeted campaigns for an individual or a group of customers, improving their likelihood to respond to customer offers and increasing the ROI of your marketing efforts. A study found that campaigns that data-driven marketing increases ROI, and those that leverage data-driven personalization report 5-8x ROI for their campaign spend.
Manage customized loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are an excellent tool for restaurants searching for creative ways to connect with customers. You can integrate a customer engagement platform with POS data to segment customers based on their behavior. For example, you could analyze spend levels, break the customers into tiers, and then advertise deals according to cost-effectiveness.
A recent survey from Oracle discovered that 65% of all U.S. consumers are members of one or more restaurant loyalty programs. They also found that the relevance of the rewards offered was more important than the simplicity of the program.
Reach customers with a mobile app
Some POS integrations can be linked to a mobile app to feed information to a customer’s smartphone or tablet. A mobile app is an excellent channel to engage customers with incentives and special offers, intriguing content, and more. They can also take food orders, reservations, pre-payments, and more to streamline restaurant operations.
Mobile apps can also be used to access features such as loyalty points, discounts, and coupons once they are integrated with a POS. This allows customers to easily redeem their benefits and keep track of their progress.
Support omnichannel communications
Omnichannel communications allow customers to have a seamless brand experience, as the content is optimized for each channel and device. This approach delivers consistent brand messaging across all platforms, and POS integrations can support all communications between the restaurant and the customer.
Customers have many choices when it comes to interacting with your restaurant. They can order over the phone, on the restaurant’s website, through a mobile application, or in person. Payment can also take place through any of those channels, or perhaps to a delivery person or at a kiosk tablet. Customer reviews can occur in person, on social media, or on the website as well.
Your POS can aggregate all of this data so you can easily understand the optimal way to interact with customers. You’ll be able to know, for example, if a customer is a regular diner in a specific location or if they often place orders for takeout. Leveraging this data will assist you in launching the right communication through the right channel.
Access reports and dashboards
Reports and dashboards are crucial for restaurant owners wanting to keep track of business metrics and key performance indicators for planning and analysis purposes. These may include customer, staff, sales, product, and accounting reports. POS integrations provide even more information to add to these reports, including reward and loyalty program metrics, which restaurant owners can use to improve marketing campaigns.
Different Types of POS Systems
The biggest change in POS systems over the years is that there are far more affordable options for smaller restaurants. Micro establishments no longer need to deplete their investment funds on an expensive POS system, and modern options come Wi-Fi enabled and are more portable than ever.
Here’s a list of POS systems that might work best for your restaurant.
Mobile POS systems
This option is best for food businesses on-the-go that don’t need to manage a large amount of inventory. If you own a food truck or you regularly sell at events or farmer’s markets, this type of POS system work best for you.
Smartphone and tablet POS systems can process payments and manage some inventory and customer information. Generally, the accompanying app is free in exchange for payment processes, and most payment processors will mail you the credit card reader free of charge. Most systems will connect with a portable receipt printer, or you can simply email receipts to your customers from the app.
Tablet POS systems
Tablet POS systems are also great for on-the-go businesses who need to take their setup one step further, as well as quick-service restaurants. Basically, any restaurant that has a smaller menu and keeps less inventory will benefit from a tablet POS system, including juice bars, coffee shops, ice cream parlors, and sandwich shops.
iPad and Android POS solutions are extremely popular, due to the fact that they require minimal upfront investment and can be used on a tablet that you already own. Some tablet POS services are “free” as long as you pay for credit card processing. Others require a low monthly subscription fee but give you the option of choosing a credit card processor. Most options support compatible hardware such as cash drawers, barcode readers, and tablet stands, and some more complex options can manage complex inventory situations and employee time tracking.
Terminal POS systems
Full-service restaurants and grocers will take the most benefit from terminal POS systems, the type you are used to seeing at the counter. They require access to the internet and are both hardware and software-based, and some are even connected to the cloud. They are often touted as all-in-one solutions that come with cash drawers, barcode scanners, cloud backup, and 24/7/365 support.
Restaurants can integrate their terminal POS system with their Wi-Fi portable devices, patron tablet ordering, online ordering, and kitchen printers. More complex retail versions can include e-commerce integration, label printing, and inventory tools.
Online point-of-sale systems
Small cafes, wine stores, or higher-end retail shops that have low-volume, big-ticket sales may find their needs met with online point-of-sale systems. With this type of POS, you can use your own hardware, such as a PC or tablet. The advantage is that startup costs are minimal, but PC solutions likely can’t replace the convenience of a touchscreen. However, it is convenient that you’re able to log in to online POS systems from anywhere, using any device.
Self-service kiosk POS
Restaurants that want to outsource their in-store ordering workflow to kiosks should choose a self-service POS. Diners can order from a kiosk menu and seat themselves if you offer dine-in seating.
Restaurants have been innovating on this POS system as of late – Dallas-based Malibu Poke is using facial recognition technology to allow customers to re-order their meals by simply glancing at self-service kiosks. Another helpful benefit is setting up a few kiosks in your large retail store to allow your customers to look up product availability and pricing.
How To Choose The Right POS System
For many restaurants, a POS system can be crucial to business operations, so it’s important to choose wisely. Fortunately, POS technology is fairly easily categorized, with proven vertical solutions. For example, Lightspeed POS specializes in restaurants and retail stores. Square POS is a bit more complex, offering small businesses and mobile sellers a wide range of payment functionality using tablets and smartphones.
Let’s dive into what factors you need to take into account to choose the right POS for your business.
Choose a POS That Can Keep Up with Technology Trends
Since payment processing is a huge part of a POS system, keeping up with the current technology trends will offer your customers a seamless purchasing experience. The most advanced POS options accept contactless payments and mobile wallets such as Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and directly from smartphones and smartwatches. The best POS solution can allow customers to dip, swipe, and tap credit, debit, and giftcards swiftly and securely.
A POS system shouldn’t just offer seamless credit card processing, rather it should act as a multifaceted hub that can manage inventory, sales, and customer relationship management (CRM). When looking at POS options, you need to make sure that they can handle changes in technology, including from popular third parties such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Being aware of how a POS platform will feed into other apps and software will make the process of upgrading or adding to your workflow much easier down the line.
Seek Solutions That Cover Front- and Back-End Needs
When considering a POS system, you want to make sure both the front-end user experience and the back-end data capabilities are top notch.
Modern POS solutions are designed to help restaurants run their payments and sales smoothly. This requires a cohesive experience for cashiers plus the back office. POS hardware should include intuitive payment methods and easy-to-read displays and screens for customers. The software should be easy to use as well, with features that allow for integrations and data storage and analytics.
Look for Integration Options and Easy Customization
As we’ve mentioned before, a POS system that supports integrations is essential for keeping track of all aspects of your business. Seek out a platform rather than a standalone application.
Modern POS systems serve as the cogs that can easily integrate with loyalty and CRM programs, inventory management, e-commerce fulfillment, merchant services, and more. Integrations are key for supporting other software and tools you might already be using to run your business.
POS systems also need to be easily maintained and customized. When you adopt a POS that’s standardized on software-as-a-service deployment, you are in a good position to make modifications based on your needs. Look for a POS system that is nimble enough to be customized and that requires little downtime for minimal impact on ongoing business operations.