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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems

by

Katherine Pendrill

If you’re in the market for a new POS, you’ve probably discovered that finding reliable information on the best restaurant POS systems can be tricky.

Not only are there dozens of different providers to choose from, but each one has a unique set of features, tools, and services to offer – it’s enough information to make anyone’s head spin. And if you’re a restaurateur, you don’t have the time to scour through company websites and online reviews just to find the information you need.

To help you cut through the noise and make shopping for a new POS a little less painful, we’ve put together an ultimate guide to the best restaurant POS systems. With in-depth reviews of all the top POS providers (including our own), this guide will help you narrow down the best restaurant POS for your specific business.

In each review, you’ll find:

  • A basic overview of each of the top restaurant POS systems
  • Each system’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Your payment processing options
  • Software pricing and other fees
  • The ideal restaurant for each POS system

We know that no restaurant POS system is a one-size-fits-all solution, and you need all the information you can get in order to make an informed decision. We hope that with this guide to the best restaurant POS systems, you’ll find the answers to all your burning questions (and then some).

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems

Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.

Download Now

TouchBistro

Overview

TouchBistro is an award-winning iPad POS system and integrated payment processing solution built for restaurant people, by restaurant people. Used in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, and over 100 other countries, TouchBistro is one of the best restaurant POS systems for independent restaurants. It has even been featured as Gordon Ramsay’s POS system of choice on the hit show Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.

Strengths

One of TouchBistro’s distinguishing features (and one of its biggest strengths), is its unique hybrid architecture. Many of the top restaurant POS systems on the market are strictly cloud-based, which means that when the Internet goes down, all your POS features go down with it.

In contrast, TouchBistro offers all the convenience and remote capabilities of any other cloud POS, but there is also a hardwired, local connection that acts as a backup when the Internet goes down. This means that even when your WiFi is out, your POS terminals can continue talking to one another, allowing you to continue taking orders and sending orders to the kitchen. For restaurants that can’t afford any service interruptions, this kind of reliability is a major plus.

Beyond its hybrid design, another advantage to TouchBistro is the robust features and products it offers. Because TouchBistro was designed by restaurant industry veterans, its core features and add-on solutions have been specially crafted to meet the unique demands of running a restaurant, such as taking orders tableside, processing online orders, and menu engineering.

TouchBistro also offers an in-house reservations management system, which is something no other restaurant POS provider has. These kinds of carefully crafted, restaurant-specific features help distinguish TouchBistro from many of the other POS systems on the market – many of which were primarily designed for retail businesses, not restaurants.

TouchBistro has also applied the same careful approach to its integrated payment solution that it has to its POS features. Unlike many of the other POS solutions on the market, TouchBistro Payments is structured according to a cost plus pricing model with no long-term contracts required. With this kind of pricing model, you pay a custom rate for every transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions. For most restaurants, cost plus pricing tends to be the cheaper option for payment processing than fixed rate pricing – leaving operators with more money in their pockets.

Weaknesses

TouchBistro boasts an extensive list of POS features and add-on solutions that make it a great option for restaurants big and small. However, TouchBistro lacks some of the enterprise-level capabilities that other POS providers offer, making it a less suitable option for major restaurant chains.

Because TouchBistro is largely designed for independent restaurants and not major chains, it does not have an extensive third-party partner network. Unlike some POS providers that offer integrations with dozens of different partners, TouchBistro supports integrations for a more curated list of partners.

For instance, TouchBistro supports industry-leading partners like 7Shifts for employee scheduling and MarketMan for advanced inventory management, but it doesn’t support more niche providers like Homebase and Yellow Dog. For some restaurants – especially multi-unit venues with complex needs – the lack of available integrations can be a problem.

Payments

Unlike some of the other POS providers on the market, TouchBistro offers more flexibility when it comes to payment processing. TouchBistro partners with a number of other payment partners, like TSYS and Moneris in Canada, Barclaycard in the U.K., and EVO in Mexico. This means you have a bit more freedom to go with the payment processing solution that fits your business model or your location-specific needs.

In addition to partnerships with third-party payment processors, TouchBistro also offers an integrated payments solution. In the U.S., customers can use TouchBistro Payments powered by Chase, which is an in-house, integrated payment processing solution. Unlike many other payment processors, TouchBistro Payments uses a cost plus pricing model. With a cost plus pricing model, factors such as the type of card a customer pays with, processing volume, and risk criteria are taken into consideration. This means you pay a custom rate for each transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions. The result? You get a more competitive rate than you would with fixed rate pricing.

Pricing

Not only are TouchBistro’s payment processing fees competitive, but so are its monthly software fees. TouchBistro’s software starts at $69 per month for a single license, and its pricing is tiered so the cost decreases for each additional license you add. With each package, you get all of TouchBistro’s core POS features, cloud-based reporting and analytics, 24/7/365 support, and unlimited users and logins for your staff and management.

Like other POS systems, you’ll also have to factor in additional costs to use TouchBistro such as installation, hardware, and payment processing fees (if you’re using integrated payments). Because TouchBistro is an iPad-based POS system, you may be able to save on some hardware costs by reusing your current iPad tablets (as long as it’s a compatible generation). TouchBistro also gives you the option to split the cost of your POS tablets over 24 months, which is a great alternative if you don’t want to purchase your iPads outright.

The Best POS For: Independent Restaurants

With all the POS features you need to run a restaurant, TouchBistro is a great all-around solution for independent restaurants big and small. And with in-house technology like self-serve kiosks and integrated reservations, TouchBistro is one of the best restaurant POS systems for both QSRs and FSRs.

Though TouchBistro can easily support larger restaurants, it’s not equipped with the kind of enterprise-level capabilities required to support nation-wide, multi-unit chains. For restaurants with these kinds of complex needs, a more bespoke POS solution with multi-unit reporting capabilities would be a better fit.

Want to see TouchBistro in action?

Toast

Overview

Toast is one of the top cloud-based POS systems for restaurants in the U.S. Unlike some of the other POS systems on the market, Toast runs on an Android operating system and uses proprietary tablets as its POS terminals. Beyond its core POS system, Toast also offers an integrated payments solution so you can manage everything in one platform.

Strengths

In contrast to some of the other top restaurant POS systems, Toast’s features are very robust and customizable, making them well suited to the needs of large, multi-unit restaurants. For instance, Toast has a strong multi-location management feature that makes it easy to manage day-to-day operations across multiple venues. 

Toast also shines when it comes to third-party integrations. Toast works with dozens of best-in-class partners who deliver specialized solutions for restaurants. For larger restaurants, access to such a wide range of integrations can help them carry out more niche functions, such as executing multi-channel marketing campaigns or setting up an advanced customer relationship management system. 

Weaknesses

Though Toast is well equipped to handle the needs of most restaurants, one of Toast’s biggest weaknesses is the fact that the system is strictly cloud-based and completely reliant on the Internet. This means that if your WiFi goes down, your POS terminals will be unable to talk to one another and you won’t be able to carry out important functions such as sending orders to the kitchen. For restaurants with slow or unreliable WiFi, this can mean frequent – and potentially costly – interruptions to service.

Another major drawback to Toast is that the system runs on an Android operating system. Though Android offers the benefits of flexibility and customization, Android POS systems are less common in the restaurant industry because the operating system comes with a steep learning curve and updates are often fragmented due to the variances in available hardware. Additionally, Android systems are the primary target of malware, meaning they are at a higher risk of security breaches. Not to mention, Toast’s system uses proprietary Android hardware, which will not work with other POS programs for restaurants if you choose to make a switch down the line.

Though it may not be a deal-breaker for every restaurant, Toast’s lack of integrated reservations is another major drawback. Toast does not have an in-house reservations management solution, but instead relies on integrations with third-party reservations apps. Some third-party solutions charge a fee per cover, which can quickly add up. Not to mention, some apps also own the restaurant’s guest booking data, which means that the reservation company has control of the customer relationship and can use your restaurant’s data to drive more engagement for its own business – a problem you won’t have with an in-house reservations system.

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems

Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.

Download Now

Payments

Toast offers integrated payments with all of its POS packages, making it a one-stop-shop for your POS and payment processing needs. However, it’s important to note that Toast is not compatible with other payment processors, and you’re required to sign a multi-year contract. For many restaurants, this can be a big commitment to make upfront – especially if your business is relatively new.

It’s also important to know that Toast’s processing fees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model. This means that Toast charges your restaurant a fixed rate regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. In other words, it doesn’t matter if your customers are using low-cost cards like debit cards or credit cards, you pay the same fee per transaction regardless.

On the plus side, this pricing structure makes your payment processing fees more predictable and easier to budget. However, it also means you pay more because the rates are priced higher than that of other payment processors to cover the fluctuating interchange fees associated with the type of card and type of payment.

Pricing

When compared to other cloud-based restaurant POS systems, Toast’s monthly software fees are in line with most other providers. Subscriptions start at $69/month for restaurants with one location and up to two terminals. This price includes Toast’s core POS features, 24/7/365 support, and unlimited software updates.

While Toast’s monthly software fees are reasonable, they aren’t the only costs to take into account. Remember that you’re also obligated to use Toast as your payment processor, which comes with its own set of fees. Additionally, you also need to purchase Toast’s proprietary hardware in order to use the POS – something that you might not need to do if you switch from one iPad-based POS system to another.

The Best POS For: Enterprise-Level Restaurants

With its robust features and numerous third-party integrations, there’s no doubt that Toast is a well-equipped restaurant POS. The system is especially well suited to enterprise-level restaurants with multiple units that need the kind of bespoke POS solution that Android technology can support.

However, Toast is less suited to independent restaurants due to its entirely cloud-based system, which can result in major service interruptions when the WiFi connection is down. Toast’s high payment processing fees and long-term contracts can also be a challenge for smaller restaurants with thinner profit margins and tighter budgets.

Wondering how Toast compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Toast

Square for Restaurants

Overview

Square for Restaurants is restaurant-specific software from the popular mobile payment company Square. Like the company’s other products, Square for Restaurants is designed for simplicity, combining an iOS-based POS system with Square’s signature payment processing services. Though Square itself is available in many countries, Square for Restaurants is exclusively available in the U.S.

Strengths

Square’s biggest strength has always been that its products are easy to use and quick to learn. Square’s POS setup consists of Apple iPads and proprietary hardware like the Square Terminal. This hardware not only makes for a quick setup process, but the devices are intuitive enough for virtually any staff member to pick up and learn.

As most restaurateurs would probably agree, Square’s other major draw is its price. Square for Restaurants is one of the more affordable restaurant POS systems on the market, starting at just $60 per month for one device, and another $40 per month for each additional device. The company even boasts a free version of its software, though you still need to pay for Square’s hardware and payment processing fees in order to use it.

Weaknesses

While Square’s simplicity and affordability are part of the reason why it’s one of the top restaurant POS systems, all this comes at a cost. Square for Restaurants is a much more basic POS system than many of its competitors. This means that many of Square POS features are less robust and lack some of the unique functions available with other systems.

For instance, Square’s inventory feature has limited capabilities and lacks complex functions like tracking food and ingredient costs. Square also lacks an in-house reservations management feature, which is a product that a growing number of FSRs rely on, especially in the wake of COVID-19. All this means that restaurants that need more built-out features are forced to rely on Square’s third-party integration partners, instead of in-house solutions.

Another drawback to Square for Restaurants is that the system is entirely cloud-based. Cloud-based systems are indeed a major improvement over the legacy systems of the past, because they are faster, more flexible, and can be used remotely. However, entirely cloud-based systems are fully reliant on a strong Internet connection. This means that if your WiFi goes down, Square for Restaurants goes down with it. And with many restaurants contending with slow, spotty, or unreliable WiFi connections, this can be a major problem.

A final weakness of Square for Restaurants is that you’re obligated to use Square’s payment processing services. Though there are benefits to using an integrated payment processor, it also means that you don’t have the freedom to use other payment processing partners that may offer better rates, such as those offering cost plus pricing.

Payments

When you sign up for Square for Restaurants, you also sign up with Square as your payment processor. Square is an aggregator, which means it charges higher payment processing fees because it assumes liability for its merchant base.

In other words, the fees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model so you have to pay the same rate for every transaction, even if your customers are using low-cost cards like debit cards or credit cards. For restaurants that process high ticket items or do a lot of processing volume, this means that you will probably be paying higher fees than necessary.

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems

Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.

Download Now

Pricing

Pricing is one area where Square for Restaurant shines. Unlike most of the top restaurant POS systems, Square actually offers a free version of its software with no monthly charges. However, the free version of Square for Restaurants has very limited capabilities and you still need to pay for the necessary hardware and Square’s payment processing services in order to use the system.

A more comparable offering is Square’s Plus package, which costs $60 per month per location, and $40 per month per added device. This package comes with all of Square’s core POS features, full reporting, and 24/7 support. Though you still need to account for the cost of hardware and Square’s payment processing fees, Square for Restaurant is one of the most affordable POS programs for restaurants.

The Best POS For: Food Trucks and Cafes

With its affordable monthly software fees and easy iPad setup, Square for Restaurants is one of the best restaurant POS systems for new food service venues that are looking to get up and running very quickly. Its simple and streamlined design also makes it a great option for restaurants that process lower ticket items or process a lower volume, such as cafes and food trucks.

However, Square for Restaurants has much more limited capabilities than other restaurant POS systems. For many FSRs and QSRs – especially those that plan to scale – this means that Square for Restaurants’ POS and reporting features may not be robust enough to support their busy operations.

Wondering how Square for Restaurants compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Square for Restaurants

Revel

Overview

Revel is an iPad-based POS system that’s used across North America, and in a number of countries in Europe and Asia. Revel is best known for its robust POS features and its enterprise-level capabilities. The POS system is particularly popular among major multi-unit QSR chains in the U.S.

Strengths

There’s no question that Revel’s robust list of enterprise-level features is a major plus for many restaurants. From its bespoke menu management features to its advanced reporting functions, Revel’s features are powerful enough to handle just about any aspect of restaurant management. This is ideal for managing multi-unit restaurant chains because it allows you to compare data and insights from different venues in different locations.

Another major advantage that Revel has over some restaurant POS systems is that it runs on Apple’s iOS operating system and uses iPads as its POS terminals. Unlike Android systems, iOS apps and iPads boast a seamless integration, and updates are rolled out automatically across devices so you never have to worry about your software being out of date. Not to mention, iPads are extremely user-friendly, which can speed up the training process.

See how TouchBistro stacks up

Weaknesses

While Revel’s impressive list of powerful POS features is a plus for some restaurants, more isn’t always better. For smaller restaurants with more straightforward needs, Revel’s extensive and complex features can make navigating the software overwhelming and tough for new staff to learn. In many cases, independent restaurants will not need all the bells and whistles that come with Revel’s software.

And for smaller restaurants, paying for features you won’t use comes at cost. Of all the cloud restaurant POS systems on the market, Revel’s monthly software fees are on the higher end. Revel’s monthly software fees start at $99 per month for just one terminal and installation costs start at $649. For smaller restaurants with thin profit margins, these high fees can significantly eat into monthly profits. 

In addition to the high monthly software fees, there’s also the fees associated with Revel’s payment processor, Revel Advantage. Revel Advantage is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means that you pay a fixed rate regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. For small restaurants that have customers primarily using low-cost cards like no-fee credit cards and debit cards (versus premium or rewards-based cards), you could end up paying much more in credit card fees than necessary.

Payments

As mentioned, Revel does support some other payment processing partners in addition to its in-house payment processor, Revel Advantage. 

Revel Advantage is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means that you pay 2.49%, plus $0.15 per transaction – regardless of what type of card is used. On the one hand, a fixed rate pricing model means that your payment processing rates will be more predictable and easier to budget. The tradeoff is that you pay more on a per-transaction basis than other pricing models.

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems

Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.

Download Now

Pricing

At $99 per month for one terminal, Revel’s monthly software fees are higher than many other POS programs for restaurants. However, this higher cost does mean you get a bit more bang for your buck as all of Revel’s plans come with a robust suite of POS features, reporting and analytics, 24/7 support, and personalized onboarding.

Beyond its monthly software fees, it’s also important to account for the other costs of using Revel’s POS system, including installation fees, hardware, and the payment processing fees for Revel Advantage. While you may be able to offset some hardware fees if you’re switching from another iPad-based POS system, Revel is still one of the priciest restaurant POS systems out there.

The Best POS For: Multi-Unit QSR Chains

With some of the most robust and customizable POS features out there, Revel is an excellent option for multi-unit establishments, especially major QSR chains. Unlike other POS providers, Revel offers enterprise-level capabilities such as an extensive third-party partner network, an open API, standardized hardware bundles, and even consultative services.

Of course, not every restaurant needs the kind of bespoke POS system that Revel provides. For independent restaurants with one or just a few locations, the price of Revel’s POS system may be too steep for features that can’t or won’t be used.

Correction: An earlier version of this piece mentioned that all customers are required to sign up for Revel Advantage. This piece has been updated to clarify that not all customers are required to sign a 3-year contract for Revel Advantage.

Wondering how Revel compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Revel

Clover

Overview

Clover POS is a cloud-based POS system that runs on an Android operating system and proprietary hardware. Unlike other restaurant POS systems, the Clover system is made up of a series of apps that can be downloaded to meet the needs of restaurants, retailers, and other small businesses. 

Strengths

Clover’s most unique feature, and perhaps its biggest strength, is its app marketplace. Clover’s App Marketplace is stocked with a wide variety of in-house, restaurant-specific apps, which you can download to customize your system. As a result, you can build a bespoke POS solution made up of only the features you need to run your specific restaurant. The Clover API is even available to developers if you want to build a custom feature.

Because Clover is essentially run on apps, it comes as no surprise that the company supports a lengthy list of third-party partners. This means that even if Clover doesn’t offer an in-house solution for a specific feature, there are plenty of third-party providers you can use.

Weaknesses

While Clover’s unique app-based system is a plus for many restaurants, it can also be a drawback. In many cases, the free versions of the Clover apps have very limited capabilities, meaning you need to pay to access more robust POS features – features that generally come standard on other POS systems. For restaurants that need many different features to run their business, the cost of all these apps can quickly add up.

Cost is also an issue when it comes to Clover’s integrated payment processing solution. Clover was acquired by the payment processing company Fiserv (First Data), which means that Fiserv is the only integrated payments solution you’re able to use. Not only does this mean you have less flexibility to use other payment processors, but Fiserv’s fees are also structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which tends to be more expensive for restaurants.

Finally, there’s the issue of the POS system itself. Unlike many other restaurant POS systems, Clover was not specifically designed for the needs of restaurants. Clover serves a wide variety of industries and places a heavy emphasis on its retail solutions. As a result, Clover does not always have the advanced features or capabilities to support growing restaurants.

Payments

As mentioned, Fiserv is the only integrated payments solution that you can use with a Clover system. This means you don’t have the option to shop around for other payment processors with better rates unless you want to use an unintegrated solution – a situation that is less than ideal for restaurants.

Fiserv’s fees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means you pay a fixed rate per transaction regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. The benefit to this model is that your rates are predictable, but the downside is that you pay more than you would with a cost plus pricing model.

Pricing

Depending on the type of restaurant you operate, Clover can be a highly affordable POS solution. The company’s Counter-Service Restaurants package starts at just $38.95 per month for two systems, while its Table-Service Restaurant package starts at $69.95 per month.

In addition to Clover’s monthly software fees, it’s also important to factor in the cost of hardware. Clover uses proprietary Android hardware, which means that you need to invest in Clover’s hardware upfront in order to use the system. For restaurants that are currently using Apple hardware, this is a major consideration.

The Best POS For: Retail-Focused Restaurant Concepts

With its unique app ecosystem, Clover is one of the most flexible and versatile restaurant POS systems. The unique set up allows restaurants to pick and choose from a wide variety of apps, including extensive retail and ecommerce functions. As a result, Clover is well suited to restaurants that focus more on retail sales, and less on dine-in service.

While Clover’s app-based system is perfect for unique restaurant concepts looking for a bespoke POS solution, it’s less useful for more traditional restaurants. QSRs and FSRs may find that many of Clover’s apps lack the robust capabilities of the core features found on other restaurant POS systems. As a result, these kinds of venues may quickly outgrow their Clover POS.

Wondering how Clover compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Clover

Lightspeed

Overview

Lightspeed is a popular all-in-one iPad-based POS system that’s used across Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. Unlike some other POS systems on the market, Lightspeed sells POS systems for retail and golf courses, in addition to restaurants. 

Strengths

One of Lightspeed’s biggest strengths is that the system runs on an iOS operating system and uses Apple hardware. Unlike Android, iOS is generally considered a more reliable and user-friendly operating system because Apple owns both the hardware (the iPad) and the software (iOS). This not only makes for a seamless integration between the POS software and tablets, but also an intuitive user experience. Not to mention, many of the other top POS providers on the on market use Apple hardware, which means you may be able to reuse your tablets if you switch to another iPad-based POS system down the line.

Lightspeed also shines when it comes to third-party integrations. In addition to integrations with various third-party payment processors, Lightspeed also offers integrations with best-in-class partners for services such as payroll, accounting, staff management, marketing, ecommerce, and more. For larger restaurants, these third-party integrations can help to extend the functionality of your POS system and make it easier to manage all your day-to-day operations in one place.

Wondering how TouchBistro stacks up against the competition?

Weaknesses

While Lightspeed is used in many restaurants, it’s important to note that Lightspeed is not a restaurant-specific POS solution. In addition to restaurants, Lightspeed also sells POS systems for retail businesses and golf courses. This broad focus means that there may be less emphasis on continuously improving features for restaurateurs.

Another weakness of Lightspeed is its lack of an in-house reservation system – a major consideration for just about any FSR. Though Lightspeed does offer integrations with third-party reservation apps like SevenRooms, Lightspeed does not have an in-house reservations management solution. While using a third-party app may not be an issue for every restaurant, it’s important to keep in mind that some third-party solutions charge a fee per cover, which can be an added cost each month. Additionally, some apps also own the restaurant’s guest booking data, which means that you won’t be able to use your reservations data to drive engagement for your own business.

Beyond its product offerings, Lightspeed also lags behind some other restaurant POS providers in terms of customer support. While Lightspeed does offer 24/7 support with all of its POS packages, this support is not available during major holidays. While this may not be a problem for some restaurants, if your restaurant does remain open during the holidays, support may not be available during some of your busiest days of the year.

Payments

Lightspeed stands out from some of the other restaurant POS providers in that the company gives you the freedom to use third-party payment processors. This flexibility can be beneficial to restaurateurs who may want to shop around for the best payment processing rates for their particular business.

Lightspeed also offers its own integrated payment processing solution, which is powered by the global payments platform Stripe. Lightspeed Payments is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means that you pay a fixed rate regardless of card type, processing volume, and other factors. While these rates are predictable, the tradeoff is that you end up paying more on a per-transaction basis than you would with cost plus pricing. This is an important consideration for restaurateurs because it could mean that you pay more in payment processing fees than necessary if your customers are mainly using low-cost cards.

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems

Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.

Download Now

Pricing

When it comes to POS software, Lightspeed’s monthly fees are in line with many other restaurant POS systems. Lightspeed’s software starts at $69 per month for one terminal and each additional terminal is an extra $45 per month. The basic plan includes Lightspeed’s core POS software, personalized onboarding, basic reporting, free updates, and 24/7 support.

If you’re just using Lightspeed’s core POS features, the system is fairly reasonable. However, if you need a lot of different add-on solutions like loyalty, self-serve kiosks, a kitchen display system, and customer facing displays, your monthly fees can quickly add up. Not to mention, if you use Lightspeed Payments, you’ll also have to factor in the costs of fixed rate payment processing fees, which may be on the high end compared to other payment processors.

The Best POS For: Restaurants with a Retail Component

With expertise in POS solutions for retail businesses and ecommerce, Lightspeed is an excellent solution for restaurants that also include a retail component, such as breweries with bottle shops, or cafes that also sell groceries. Lightspeed not only offers in-house solutions for these unique restaurant concepts, but it also offers dozens of third-party integrations that allow you to create a bespoke POS solution for your business.

However, for more traditional FSRs and QSRs, Lightspeed may not be the ideal solution. Lightspeed lacks some crucial in-house solutions that many restaurants rely on for day-to-day operations, such as robust inventory management features. Additionally, Lightspeed lacks some valuable add-on features, such as in-house reservations, which are important to today’s independent restaurants – especially in the wake of COVID-19.

Wondering how Lightspeed compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Lightspeed

Upserve

Overview

Upserve, formerly known as Breadcrumb, is an all-in-one restaurant management and payment processing solution for restaurants in the U.S. Upserve works on both iOS and Android systems, making it one of the more versatile POS systems on the market. Upserve is also well known for its in-depth reporting functions and custom analytics.

Strengths

There’s no question that Upserve’s robust reporting and customizable analytics is one of the system’s biggest selling points. Beyond the usual reports that you get with most restaurant POS systems, Upserve also offers some unique reports and menu intelligence tools. This includes the Magic Quadrant report, which divides your menu up into quadrants to illustrate the frequency with which each item is ordered and the success rate it has in drawing repeat customers. Upserve also provides you with Server Report Cards, which can help you better train and coach your restaurant staff.

Upserve’s customizable reporting features are also part of the reason the POS is a good choice for many enterprise-level restaurants. Upserve is equipped with a number of great enterprise-level features such as multi-location management and an open API. These kinds of features are a huge strength and makes the platform well suited to major restaurant chains looking for a bespoke POS solution.

Weaknesses

While Upserve may be a great option for some major FSR chains, the platform is lacking when it comes to QSR-friendly add-ons. Upserve does not offer self-serve kiosks or customer facing displays – both of which are high-tech solutions that QSRs are increasingly relying on to enhance the customer experience.

Even for some FSRs, Upserve may not be an ideal solution because it lacks an integrated reservations management system. Though Upserve does support most of the major third-party reservation platforms, Upserve does not have an in-house solution. This can be a problem because some third-party systems own the data of the guests who use the platform, meaning you have less insight into your guest’s behaviors and fewer opportunities to use that information to drive targeted marketing campaigns. Not to mention, some third-party reservation platforms also charge a cover fee for each booking – fees that can very quickly add up.

A final drawback to Upserve is the lack of flexibility when it comes to using third-party payment processors. Though Upserve does integrate with other payment processors, you need to pay a gateway fee of $99 per month in addition to the fees your processor charges just to use that third-party processor. In other words, if you don’t want to use Upserve’s integrated payment processing solution, it’ll cost you.

Payments

Like many of the best restaurant POS systems on the market, Upserve offers its own integrated payments solution called Upserve Payments. This EMV solution is billed as quick to set up, easy to use, and built for modern restaurants. However, it’s worth noting that Upserve Payments is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model, which means that you pay a fixed rate for each transaction, regardless of card type and other factors. Though this makes your payment processing fees very predictable, the downside is that you might end up paying more in fees than necessary if your customers are mainly using low-cost cards.

If you choose not to use Upserve’s integrated payment processing solution, you do have the option to use a third-party processor. But, as mentioned above, you need to be prepared to pay a $99 per month gateway fee just to use your preferred payment processor.

Pricing

When it comes to pricing, Upserve’s Core package is highly affordable at $59 per month, plus $60 per terminal per month. The drawback to this attractive pricing is that you don’t get to enjoy all of Upserve’s great POS features. For instance, menu optimization, server performance, inventory management, and online ordering are all unavailable with Upserve’s Core offering.

If you opt for Upserve’s Pro or Pro Plus subscriptions, you get to enjoy a more full range of features. However, the Pro and Pro Plus plans come with steep fees, making Upserve one of the pricier POS systems for restaurants. And keep in mind that even with the Pro and Pro Plus plans, you’ll still have to factor in the monthly cost of certain add-on features, such as gift cards. 

The Best POS For: Enterprise-Level FSRs

With some of the most robust reporting features on the market, there’s no question that Upserve is a great restaurant POS option. The platform’s custom analytics, lengthy list of third-party integrations, open API, and multi-location management features make it especially well suited to enterprise-level FSRs in need of a custom solution.

Of course, Upserve is missing some important features, such as self-serve kiosks and integrated reservations software, which make the POS system less suited to the needs of independent FSRs and QSRs. Not to mention, Upserve’s Pro and Pro Plus plans are on the pricier side, which may make the system too expensive for some independent operators working with tight budgets.

Wondering how Upserve compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Upserve

Lavu

Overview

Lavu is an iPad-based POS and payment processing system used by restaurants in more than 90 different countries worldwide. Founded in 2010, Lavu has more than 10 years of experience providing restaurant management solutions and boasts more than 300 features and add-on solutions.

Strengths

Like many of the best restaurant POS systems, Lavu offers a wide range of features, add-ons, and third-party integrations. However, Lavu has gone the extra mile to develop dedicated POS solutions for several niche restaurant concepts. For instance, Lavu offers a Pizza POS equipped with tools like the Pizza Creator that allow you to build and customize virtual pizzas on your device for easy preparation, pricing, and delivery. Lavu also offers similar POS solutions for other niche restaurant concepts such as ice cream shops, wineries, breweries, and more.

Lavu also sets itself apart from competitors when it comes to its payment processing options. Unlike many of the top restaurant pos systems, Lavu does not require customers to use its in-house payment processing solution, LavuPay. This means that customers have the freedom to shop around and choose from one of Lavu’s many other integrated payment processing partners, including PayPal.

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Weaknesses

When it comes to POS features, Lavu offers restaurant-specific tools for just about any scenario you could think of. However, Lavu’s “do it all” approach sometimes means that the quality of its features is not consistent across the board. For instance, Lavu’s inventory management feature is very robust and can support restaurants of nearly any size. On the other hand, many of Lavu’s other features – specifically its staff management and floor plan management features – are far less robust.

Lavu is also lacking when it comes to an integrated reservations management solution. Though Lavu does support third-party reservation partners, there is no in-house solution available. This can be a problem for restaurants because some of these third-party integration partners charge per cover fees that can quickly add up. Some of these reservation partners also own your restaurant’s customer data, which means that you won’t be able to use that information for your own marketing purposes.

Finally, Lavu struggles when it comes to providing consistent customer service and technical support. While the company boasts 24/7 U.S.-based support, user reviews note that the support they receive is not always helpful. While every software certainly has its share of negative online reviews, the complaints about Lavu’s customer support show some concerning trends that are worth noting.

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Payments

As mentioned above, Lavu sets itself apart from many other POS programs for restaurants by offering a lot of flexibility when it comes to payment processing. Lavu customers can use the company’s in-house payments solution, LavuPay, or choose from a number of other integrated payment processing partners. This type of flexibility is beneficial for restaurateurs because it means you can compare payment processing rates and choose the most cost-effective option for your specific venue.

If you do choose to use LavuPay, it’s important to note that this integrated payment processing solution is structured according to a fixed rate pricing model. Fixed rate pricing tends to be more expensive than cost plus pricing because payment processors set their rates higher to cover the cost of different types of cards. If you know your customers tend to use low-cost cards, it might be cheaper to go with one of Lavu’s other payment processing partners over LavuPay.

Pricing

When it comes to pricing, Lavu’s software starts at a very reasonable $69 USD per month for a single POS terminal. For this price, you get all of Lavu’s core POS features, including 24/7 support, and real-time sales and labor reporting. If you need more than one terminal, you will need to contact Lavu directly as the company does not publicly disclose the price of its multi-terminal or enterprise plans.

The Best POS For: Highly Specific Restaurant Concepts

With an extensive list of features, numerous third-party integration partners, and flexible payment processing options, Lavu is a great POS option for many restaurants. Lavu is particularly well suited to venues such as pizzerias, ice cream shops, breweries, and wineries because of its highly specialized solutions for niche restaurant concepts.

While Lavu excels when it comes to creating features for very specific restaurant concepts like pizzerias, this “do it all” approach means that some of Lavu’s core POS features are lacking. Instead of focusing on the quality of its core POS features, Lavu seems to prioritize quantity. For many busy QSRs and FSRs, this means that Lavu’s core POS features may not be robust enough to keep up with the demands of day-to-day operations.

Wondering how Lavu compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Lavu

Epos Now

Overview

Epos Now is a cloud-based software provider that specializes in POS systems for retail and hospitality businesses. The company is based in the U.K., however, it has since expanded its availability to North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Strengths

Unlike nearly every other restaurant POS system on the market, Epos Now can be run on iOS, Android, or Windows. The POS is compatible with Google Chrome and Safari web browsers, which means that you can run the system on any device that supports those browsers. There is also an iPad app available, so you can use an iPad as a POS terminal and for certain back-office functions. This kind of flexibility is extremely beneficial for restaurateurs because it means you can choose the operating system and hardware that works best for your particular restaurant and budget.

Epos Now also bills itself as a budget-friendly solution overall. Epos Now’s software starts at just $39 per month, and varied based on the number of locations you have and the number of POS terminals you need. Though Epos Now’s basic software package doesn’t include technical support, it’s still an affordable option for restaurants that need a very basic restaurant POS system.

Weaknesses

While Epos Now may be relatively affordable, the trade-off of a lower price tag is that you end up with a much more basic POS system. Epos Now was originally designed for retail, so its restaurant-specific features are still fairly basic. While you will be able to carry out everyday tasks such as taking orders and splitting checks, you won’t be able to carry out more complex tasks or create custom reports. Not to mention, if you need any special add-ons like online ordering or reservations, you’ll have to rely on third-party integrations because Epos Now doesn’t offer any of its own in-house solutions.

Beyond missing features, Epos Now is also lacking when it comes to technical support. That’s because support is not actually included with any of Epos Now’s software packages. This means that if you want to ensure you can actually reach someone when problems arise, you will need to purchase a separate technical support package for a minimum of 12-months – a cost that can quickly add up. While pricey, purchasing this additional support package is something to strongly consider because Epos Now has no community page where users can come together to troubleshoot issues, and the brand’s online self-help guides are fairly limited.

Finally, there’s the issue of Epos Now’s system itself. Epos Now is a strictly cloud-based POS system that requires a stable Internet connection to operate. If your WiFi connection is interrupted or lost entirely, Epos Now’s terminals will be unable to talk to one another and you will instantly lose essential functions, such as the ability to send orders to the kitchen. For restaurants with notoriously slow or unreliable WiFi, this can mean constant interruptions to service and even lost revenue.

Payments

Unlike some of the major POS providers on the market, Epos Now gives customers the flexibility to choose between several integrated payment processing partners or building a custom payments integration using the company’s API. This is beneficial for restaurateurs that want to shop around and make sure they choose the payment processing partner that offers the best rate for their particular restaurant.

However, it’s important to note if you choose to use a payment processor that’s not integrated with Epos Now, you’ll have to carry out all credit card transactions separately and enter the amounts from each transaction manually into the POS system. For any restaurant that processes a high volume of transactions, this is a major consideration because manually entering each transaction is not only time consuming, but also carried with the risk of costly data entry errors.

Pricing

As mentioned already, Epos Now bills itself as one of the most affordable POS systems out there. And if you need a bare-bones POS solution and basic hardware, Epos Now is indeed a budget-friendly option.

But while Epos Now’s monthly software fees may be on the low end, there are other fees to account for. For instance, Epos Now’s software subscriptions do not include technical support, so you have to factor in the added cost of an annual support package. There are also other hidden fees to consider with Epos Now, such as the cost to upload a spreadsheet to the system, and extra fees if you don’t integrate your POS with one of Epos Now’s payment processors within 60 days – all of which can add up to make Epos Now a much more expensive option than it initially seems. 

The Best POS For: Small-Scale Foodservice Businesses

Based on its affordable pricing, flexible hardware options, and uncomplicated POS features, it’s clear that Epos Now is a good option for small-scale foodservice businesses with relatively straightforward needs. For instance, businesses such as ice cream shops, juice bars, and coffee carts would benefit from a system like Epos Now because it covers all the basics, and won’t weigh you down with unnecessary features or price add-ons.

However, if you need to carry out anything more than basic POS functions, you’ll likely find Epos Now inadequate. Epos Now was not originally created for hospitality businesses and many of its restaurant POS features are still limited. Not to mention, Epos Now also doesn’t offer any in-house solutions for add-ons like online ordering or loyalty that can help your restaurant scale. For many QSRs and FSRs, a system like Epos Now is likely not robust enough to support a growing restaurant business.

Wondering how Epos Now compares to TouchBistro?

Read our full review of TouchBistro vs Epos Now

The Bottom Line

If there’s one key takeaway from this ultimate guide to the best restaurant POS systems, it’s that no two providers are the same. Each restaurant has its own unique set of needs and POS providers have developed different features, tools, and services to meet those needs. In short, the best restaurant POS for your restaurant will depend on your size, location, type of restaurant, and a wide variety of other factors. But armed with the information in this guide, you should be one step closer to finding the perfect POS fit for your business.

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems

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Katherine is a Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.

The right POS should help you increase sales.

Ultimate Guide to Picking a POS

The right POS should help you increase sales.

iPad Screenshot with TouchBistro software
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