How Restaurant Technology Has Evolved
There was a time when restaurants had to rely on manual processes to take orders, communicate them with the kitchen, and settle checks. That is no longer the case. Restaurants now rely on automated processes to operate more efficiently and to provide better customer experiences, and restaurants that haven’t moved beyond manual processes will fare poorly.
In order to stay competitive, restaurants need the agility, flexibility, and innovation that restaurant technology provides. Consumers embrace – and expect – to be able to use technology that enhances their dining experiences. Successful restaurant owners are meeting those expectations by implementing advanced restaurant point of sale systems.
Restaurant Point of Sale Systems
Few technology solutions are as powerful or necessary to your business as the point of (POS) system. In addition to managing payment transactions, a restaurant POS system will streamline and optimize workflows, automate routine tasks, provide valuable data, and help owners manage business more efficiently and profitably.
Any POS system is made up of two main components – hardware and software. Solutions specifically designed for restaurants will include a variety of features that support operation of any restaurant, regardless of size or concept. In addition to these basic components, a variety of ancillary solutions, such as reservation management, loyalty, gift cards, or payroll integration, can be integrated and customized to help restaurant owners address the specific tasks and challenges they face.
Restaurant Point of Sale Hardware
- Receipt printers
- Kitchen display systems (KDS)
- Cash drawers
- EMV chip card readers
While hardware is necessary for any point of sale system to function, not all POS hardware will perform in a harsh restaurant environment. Restaurant point of sale systems require hardware that’s rugged enough to handle high temperatures, spills, dirt, dust, and heavy use that it will come into contact with on a day-to-day basis. In addition, hardware should also be aesthetic, complementing your brand and concept and sending a message to your customers that your business is modern and professional.
Restaurant Point of Sale Software
Your choice of restaurant point of sale system software is integral to how your business operates. Software should be robust enough to keep up with all of your daily processes, yet flexible enough to handle constant changes and disruptions within the industry.
In order to determine which functions are necessary for your restaurant, you first need to evaluate your current operation. See if there is any room for improvement in certain areas, and determine what your current challenges are Restaurant point of sale systems effectively address a number of different needs with ease, since they are designed to serve as a hub for both front- and back-of-house processes. Your POS system will provide you with vital tools to handle an array of business functions, such as:
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Inventory management
- Sales and reporting
- Employee management
- Payroll integration
- Mobile point of sale (mPOS)
Restaurant POS FeaturesRestaurant point of sale systems are specifically designed with feature sets hand-tailored to the restaurant industry:
Table managementThis feature is designed to optimize the dining space, decrease the time it takes to turn tables, and prevent long wait times for customers. Table management also handles reservations and walk-ins, and provides SMS text notifications to customers when tables are ready.
Online orderingThe popularity of online and mobile ordering is steadily increasing. Customers prefer to have options to order ahead for pickup or delivery via their mobile devices, so online ordering tools help satisfy customers, with the added benefit of providing restaurant owners with customer data.
Customer engagementLoyalty programs help restaurant owners build their brand and create profitable relationships with customers. Gift cards help to bring in new customers and promote business year-round. Customer engagement tools help with managing these programs and provide analytics for their effectiveness.
Inventory managementIt’s necessary to maintain tight control over inventory, since it affects all areas of business. Inventory mismanagement is often the culprit behind excessive loss and shrinkage. Inventory tools help restaurant owners monitor stock levels, view costs, and reduce waste.
Labor managementThe restaurant industry suffers from a higher-than-average turnover rate. Managing labor effectively can help reduce turnover. With labor scheduling and management tools, you can increase the efficiency of your workflow, and reduce labor costs while improving service.
Promos and marketingPromotional and marketing tools can be integrated with restaurant point of sale systems and help you run more effective campaigns. With these tools, restaurant owners can keep track of customer data and offer redemption and use the analytics to track how well promotions are working.
Restaurant reportingWith accurate, detailed data, owners and managers can make smarter, more informed decisions for their businesses. Robust reporting software is critical to business success, as it provides deeper insights into every area of business.
Payroll integrationRestaurant payroll processes have many variables to account for, such as tipped vs. non-tipped employees, full-time or part-time workers, and variances in shifts. Payroll integration accurately tracks attendance, hours, and breaks, and sends this data directly to the payroll processor.
For restaurant operators with more than one location, chain management can be much more complicated. Multi-store features allow operators to effectively monitor operations and view data from multiple locations through a centralized dashboard.
Selecting the Right POS System for Your Restaurant ConceptAs you consider different restaurant point of sale systems, look for features designed for your specific type of restaurant
Fast casualThis industry requires a perfect balance between speed and quality. While the goal is to provide a great atmosphere and delicious food, fast casual restaurants are faced with consistent pressure to be quick and efficient across the board. State-of-the-art POS systems designed for fast casual restaurants will streamline operations while focusing on building customer loyalty.
Fine DiningWith an emphasis on creating exemplary customer experiences and a menu that includes premium ingredients, fine dining establishments require a system that increases brand awareness, expertly manages inventory, enables staff to focus more on customers, and provides online reservations for greater customer convenience.
Bars and NightclubsBusinesses that cater to nightlife are expected to deliver fast service while still maintaining a personal touch. In order to fulfill these expectations, the system should offer easy bar tab and payment preauthorization features, age verification, drink recipes, and inventory tracking.
Quick ServiceQuick service point of sale systems must be robust enough to keep up with a fast-paced environment and flexible enough to adapt to changing customer expectations and shifting industry trends. Look for scalable software that can manage labor, control costs, offer special combos and modifiers, handle multiple revenue streams, and bust lines.
Restaurant POS Data Storage
Restaurant owners need to pay special attention to data storage, as the data from restaurant point of sale systems contain critical business information that you need to make informed decisions and manage operations.
Traditional restaurant point of sale systems store all data locally, which is great for keeping data accessible in the event of an internet outage, but can be risky if the system were to malfunction causing the data to be lost.
Point of sale systems that rely on the cloud are good for ensuring data never gets lost and is always accessible from any mobile device, but if an internet outage were to occur, it could result in downtime.
Hybrid solutions offer the best aspects of both systems. The data is backed up on the cloud so it is never lost, but in the event of an internet outage, the system can still run on offline mode and store data locally. Once the connection is restored, all of that data can be pushed back onto the cloud for safekeeping.
Restaurant POS Security
While there are many benefits to an ultra-connected world, the ability to access data via the internet also makes it easier for criminals to exploit any vulnerabilities. Confidential POS data, such as payment card information, personally identifiable information, accounting information, and employment information should be encrypted to protect customers as well as businesses, which need to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
While the deadline for the transition to EMV technology has long since passed, many small businesses have been slow to make the switch, which puts them at a much greater risk for losses due to card fraud. EMV chip cards generate unique, non-reusable codes for each transaction, and the cards themselves are nearly impossible to counterfeit.
Another useful tool for restaurant and bar owners in the battle against fraud is credit card preauthorization. An advanced restaurant point of sale system will offer this feature, which allows servers to ensure that accounts are valid and funds are sufficient. These systems retain secure information so that servers only need to run the card once, making pre-auths and running a tab easy for your staff and for the customer.
Restaurant POS Pricing Models
A restaurant point of sale system provider will sell software licenses using one of two main pricing models – traditional and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
The traditional model requires business owners to purchase software up front, making a significant capital investment, and foot the bill for software maintenance and new versions.
The SaaS model, however, allows restaurant owners to pay a fixed monthly fee to use the POS system, which is more easily affordable and makes POS an operating expense, rather than a CAPEX. The SaaS model also includes maintenance and updates, reducing the burden on in-house IT.
Choosing a Restaurant POS ProviderInvesting in a new restaurant point of sale system is a big undertaking, so it’s vital that restaurant owners are selective when choosing a POS provider. Partner with a provider with a proven track record of providing POS solutions to the restaurant industry that can offer the best solutions to grow your business.
Trustworthy and reliable POS providers will offer training and support long after you’ve purchased your POS. Choose a provider that has a long history of business relationships built on honesty and integrity, so you know that you are forming a partnership that will provide your business with real value.