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By Katherine Pendrill
If you’re in the process of comparing top restaurant POS systems, TouchBistro vs Lavu POS is bound to come up.
Both TouchBistro and Lavu are modern POS providers that have been around for roughly a decade respectively. Having established solid reputations in the industry, these two restaurant management and payment processing solutions are used by a wide variety of venues – from food trucks to full service restaurants.
But while TouchBistro and Lavu share many similarities, it’s important to know that these two systems are not one and the same. From payment processing solutions to customer support, there are a number of key differences between TouchBistro and Lavu.
Of course, it can be tough to spot all these differences without some in-depth research, which is why we’ve conducted a comprehensive, head-to-head TouchBistro vs Lavu POS review.
In this thorough POS comparison, we’ll cover:
With all this information at your fingertips, you can better compare TouchBistro vs Lavu and make an informed decision about which restaurant POS system is right for your business.
To get a full picture of the POS landscape and see how TouchBistro stacks up to other top restaurant POS systems, you can also check out our Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems.
The information contained on this site is accurate as of the time of publication.
Compare the top restaurant POS systems on features, pricing, payments, and more.
As noted, both TouchBistro and Lavu POS each have roughly 10 years of experience behind them respectively. In this time, both providers have developed a wide variety of products and services for restaurants.
But while there are many similarities between the two systems, there are also some important differences. Below, we’ll provide a brief overview of TouchBistro vs Lavu, highlighting some of the areas of overlap and digging into the key differences.
When it comes to the POS system itself, TouchBistro and Lavu have a very similar setup.
Lavu is a cloud-based POS system that requires an Internet connection to operate. With this type of system, your POS data is stored in the cloud on remote servers that can be accessed any time, from any Internet-connected device. However, as most restaurateurs know, an Internet-based system can be an issue because if your connection is lost, your POS terminals (and all the features they support) go down with it.
To solve this problem, Lavu also offers a Lavu Local Server option, which runs on a preconfigured Mac Mini that’s installed on-site in your restaurant. In this case, the iPad POS terminals only need to connect with the Mac Mini to run, which adds a layer of protection against an Internet outage. The Lavu Local Server costs extra to add to your POS setup, however it’s a good option to have if your WiFi connection is notoriously weak or unreliable.
TouchBistro also offers this kind of hybrid POS system, without an additional cost for the local connection. This means you enjoy the same flexibility and remote capabilities of a strictly cloud-based system, but you also have a local connection to keep your POS system up and running at all times. The only difference between TouchBistro and Lavu’s setup is that the hybrid system is the standard with a TouchBistro POS and for most customers, a Mac Mini is not required to host the local server, whereas Lavu customers need to pay extra – and purchase extra hardware – for the locally installed connection.
In addition to a similar POS setup, TouchBistro and Lavu also rely on the same operating system to run their POS software.
Both TouchBistro and Lavu run on Apple’s iOS operating system and use Apple’s iPad tablets. iOS is generally considered to be the more reliable and user-friendly operating system for restaurants because Apple owns both the hardware (the iPad) and the software (iOS). This allows for a seamless integration between POS software and tablets, and the automatic rollout of updates across devices. In contrast, Android systems are frequently the target of malware, and software updates are sometimes fragmented due to the variances in Android hardware.
Where TouchBistro and Lavu start to differ is when it comes to regional availability.
Lavu is headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico and its primary markets are the U.S. and Mexico. Beyond these target markets, Lavu is also used in 90+ other countries.
Like Lavu, TouchBistro also has a global reach and is used in more than 100 countries around the world. However, TouchBistro’s primary markets cover a larger footprint, including Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and the U.K. Because of the company’s specific focus in these regions, TouchBistro’s POS system is configured to meet the unique needs of restaurants in each of these countries. This means users can access region-specific features, integrations, and language settings. For instance, TouchBistro systems in the U.K. integrate with one of Britain’s leading payment providers, Barclaycard.
Now that we’ve covered the foundations of TouchBistro and Lavu’s systems, it’s time to dive into the features themselves.
Most restaurant POS systems are equipped with a similar set of core features that help restaurants tackle day-to-day management. These features include everything from menu building and inventory tracking, to staff management and reporting.
When you compare TouchBistro vs Lavu, it’s clear that both platforms are equipped with the same set of core POS features:
Though both TouchBistro and Lavu POS check all the boxes when it comes to core features, the depth of these features is not the same.
One of Lavu’s main selling points is that the platform can do it all, with 300+ features and counting. However, the quality of Lavu’s core features is not consistent across the board. For instance, Lavu’s inventory management feature is very robust, with capabilities such as shelf-to-sheet counting, inventory value reporting, and purchasing ordering built right in.
But while its inventory management feature is strong, some of Lavu’s other features could be seen as lacking. For instance, Lavu’s staff management feature is only equipped with basic capabilities like staff scheduling and the ability for employees to clock in and out. Moreover, Lavu’s floor plan management tool only allows you to edit a basic floor plan and does not feature additional design elements.
In contrast to Lavu’s “do it all” approach, TouchBistro takes more of a “do it well” approach. As a restaurant-specific POS provider, TouchBistro focuses on delivering best-in-class implementations of the core features that restaurateurs actually need and use. In other words, TouchBistro prioritizes robust, high-quality features, over quantity.
The quality of TouchBistro’s core POS is evident when looking at a tool like the menu management feature. With TouchBistro, you can create a custom menu for your restaurant, complete with full-screen photos and descriptions that can be displayed to customers. You can also carry out intricate functions such as hiding out of stock or time-specific menu items, running scheduled promotions, adding pop-up modifiers, accessing real-time analytics, and so much more.
Though TouchBistro vs Lavu POS may vary when it comes to quality of features, one thing both providers share is a love of Apple hardware.
Both TouchBistro and Lavu use Apple iPad tablets as the POS terminals. Though there are some POS providers that use Android hardware, iPads are the tablet of choice for most of the top restaurant POS systems. This means that if you’re switching from another iPad-based POS to a system to TouchBistro or Lavu, you can usually reuse your existing iPads to save money on hardware costs (as long as the iPads you have are a compatible generation).
There are also many other reasons why TouchBistro and Lavu use Apple hardware instead of Android. Perhaps the biggest reason is the seamless integration between Apple’s iPads and the iOS operating system. This integration allows for security updates to roll out automatically across all Apple devices, which takes the burden off restaurateurs to continually update their devices.
Apple iPads are also great for restaurateurs because the devices are so user-friendly and intuitive. As anyone familiar with Apple devices like the iPhone will know, Apple products are easy to use and learn right out of the box – something that can make training new staff much easier.
Beyond the iPads themselves, TouchBistro and Lavu also offer additional hardware for the restaurant POS systems, including printers, payment terminals, stands, cash drawers, and more. Both TouchBistro and Lavu give customers the option to purchase individual hardware pieces, so you can pick and choose all the specific equipment you need for your restaurant. Lavu also offers a Starter Kit Bundle that comes with all the basic hardware pieces you need to get up and running, or the option to create a custom hardware bundle.
Beyond a core set of features, most POS providers also offer additional tools to help restaurants carry out specialized functions such as fulfilling online orders, managing reservations, creating loyalty programs, loading gift cards, and more. Both TouchBistro and Lavu POS offer a number of these kinds of add-on solutions, including integrated payment processing.
Few restaurants can get by on cash alone these days, which means you will mostly likely need to use a payment processor – a partner that allows you to accept credit, debit, and digital payments. To make things easier, most POS providers will offer integrated payment processing as an add-on for their POS system. In some cases, you may be required to use your POS providers’ in-house payment processor, while others will give you the flexibility to shop around for your preferred payment processing partner.
Unlike some of the major POS providers on the market, Lavu is very flexible when it comes to payment processing. If you use Lavu’s POS system, you can use the company’s in-house payments solution, LavuPay, or you can choose from a number of other integrated payment processing partners, including PayPal.
LavuPay is PCI-compliant and fully integrated with Lavu POS. As for the payment processing fees, LavuPay 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 some restaurants, this fee structure is preferred because it’s easier to predict your processing costs each month.
However, the tradeoff of predictable rates is that you could end up paying more per-transaction basis because the payment processor has to set their fees high enough to cover their costs for all types of cards. This means that if your customers are mainly 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 you would with a cost plus pricing model.
Similar to Lavu, TouchBistro also offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing a payment processing partner. Customers can choose to use TouchBistro’s in-house payment processing solution, TouchBistro Payments powered by Chase, or one of several integrated third-party processors. This kind of flexibility is beneficial for restaurants because it gives them the freedom to shop around for the best payment processing rates for their specific business model.
TouchBistro Payments is also a great option for restaurateurs because the fees are structured according to a cost plus pricing model. Under this kind of pricing model, the restaurant owner pays the non-negotiable interchange fee (for the type of credit card being used) and a flat mark-up. This means you end up paying a custom rate for each transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions – regardless of what type of card or method of payment is used. Though the fees are less predictable, it’s generally the less expensive option for restaurants that serve customers who use a wide variety of cards.
In addition to payment processing, both TouchBistro and Lavu also offer many more add-on solutions for restaurants.
When you compare TouchBistro vs Lavu directly, you can see that both offer the following add-on solutions:
For the most part, a direct comparison of Lavu vs TouchBistro reveals that the two providers offer comparable add-on products. However, there is one important add-on that Lavu does not offer, and that is an in-house reservations management system.
Unlike Lavu, TouchBistro offers an end-to-end reservation system and guest management platform called TouchBistro Reservations.
TouchBistro Reservations allows guests to make bookings directly through a restaurant’s website, social channels like Facebook, or the TouchBistro Dine platform. These reservations sync directly to the TouchBistro POS, giving restaurants an easy way to manage and optimize their bookings.
This is an add-on feature that’s become increasingly valuable in light of COVID-19 dining restrictions such as capacity limits, social distancing measures, and mandatory contact tracing.
While both TouchBistro and Lavu offer a wide variety of in-house restaurant management solutions, no one POS provider can do it all. To supplement their in-house add-ons, each company also relies on third-party partners to provide specialized solutions for services such as accounting, payroll, marketing, delivery, and more.
A quick glance of TouchBistro and Lavu’s available integration partners reveals that both providers offer integrations for the following types of services:
Beyond those listed above, Lavu POS also offers third-party integrations for a number of other services, including reservations, third-party delivery, guest engagement, and more.
However, it’s worth noting that while Lavu appears to offer an extensive number of integrations, many of these integrations are still flagged as “Coming Soon.” This means that if you’re relying on a specific integration for your restaurant, you may want to check with Lavu directly or read recent Lavu POS reviews to confirm that this integration will be supported in the near future (and not several months down the line).
It’s also important to point out that Lavu offers a number of its own, in-house integrations for highly-specific functions. For instance, there’s the Lavu Pizza Creator integration that allows you to build virtual pizzas on your Lavu POS for easy cooking, pricing, and delivery. There’s also a Lavu Routing & Delivery integration, which allows you to create delivery orders, assign drivers, mark specific deliveries as completed, and even track customer’s information. While these in-house integrations will cost you a bit extra, they can be great for restaurants that are looking for highly specialized functions, but don’t want to have to rely on third-party providers, such as pizzerias.
In contrast, TouchBistro supports a fewer number of third-party integrations than Lavu. However, TouchBistro’s more curated list of integration partners primarily consists of industry-leading solutions that are already used by most restaurateurs anyway. For instance, TouchBistro supports best-in-class solutions like 7shifts for employee scheduling, MarketMan for advanced inventory management, and Avero for reporting – all of which are leading third-party solutions in their category.
Another reason that TouchBistro offers fewer third-party integrations is because TouchBistro already offers in-house solutions for most essential tools. For instance, TouchBistro has developed its own solutions for reservations management, online ordering, loyalty, self-ordering kiosks, and more. This means that while TouchBistro may offer fewer integrations overall, most restaurants will be able to use their preferred third-party partner or use one of TouchBistro’s many in-house solutions.
Add-ons and integrations aside, no review of TouchBistro vs Lavu POS review would be complete without addressing the issue of pricing.
Lavu’s pricing starts at $69 USD per month for a single POS terminal. For this price, you get all of Lavu’s core POS features, including 24/7 U.S.-based support and real-time sales and labor reporting. Unfortunately, if you need more than one POS terminal you have to contact Lavu directly for a quote as the company does not publicly disclose the price of its multi-terminal or enterprise plans.
Similarly, TouchBistro’s plans also start at $69 USD per month for one license. Additionally, TouchBistro offers tiered pricing so the price per license decreases with each additional license purchased. All of TouchBistro’s plans also include the core POS features, unlimited users, free updates, and 24/7/365 support.
Keep in mind that along with software cost, you may also have to purchase new hardware to start using either TouchBistro or Lavu. With TouchBistro, you have the option to roll the cost of new iPads into your monthly subscription fee, whereas Lavu gives you the option to lease your POS system.
However, most restaurant industry professionals strongly recommend against leasing equipment because it is not a cost-effective option. Leases can last for years at a time and come with steep penalties for early cancellations or breaking your lease – not a good situation for any restaurateur.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s time to find out how TouchBistro vs Lavu compare when it comes to customer service and technical support.
As mentioned above, Lavu POS offers free 24/7 U.S.-based support with all of its monthly and annual subscriptions. This support can be accessed via phone, email, or live chat. With the live chat feature, you may not get a response right away, but every question automatically becomes a support ticket, which will be answered quickly via email. Lavu also has a wide variety of online resources for less pressing issues, including a support page with FAQs and how-to articles, a community forum, and a well-developed YouTube channel.
Though 24/7 support is extremely valuable when it comes to any kind of software, it’s important to note that Lavu’s customer support has mixed reviews on several third-party review sites such as Capterra, TrustRadius, and Software Advice. Some of these Lavu POS reviews note disappointing experiences when it comes to Lavu’s responsiveness and its ability to solve technical problems.
On the other hand, TouchBistro also offers free 24/7 Canada-based customer service and technical support, which is available 365 days of the year (including holidays).
TouchBistro’s support team can be reached by phone or email, and is largely staffed by former and current restaurant servers, owners, and managers. This means that whenever you call in – whether it’s during a Saturday lunch service or late on Christmas Eve – you’ll be speaking with someone who knows the industry inside and out, and has an intimate understanding of the issues you’re experiencing.
For more minor issues, TouchBistro also has an extensive online resource library, complete with step-by-step guides and video tutorials that can be used to troubleshoot virtually any issue on your own.
Based on this in-depth comparison of Lavu vs TouchBistro, it’s clear that both providers offer robust, well-built POS systems for restaurants. Both providers offer a similar set of core features, use the same Apple hardware, and operate in the same global markets. However, when you dig a little deeper, there are also many important differences between these two systems that may dictate which system is best suited to different types of restaurants.
As mentioned above, Lavu has developed a lot of niche functions that make it best suited to highly-specific restaurant concepts like pizzerias, ice cream shops, breweries, and wineries. For instance, Lavu offers a specific Pizza POS equipped with the company’s Pizza Creator tool, Routing & Delivery capabilities, and a customer-facing display.
In contrast, TouchBistro focuses on delivering best-in-class solutions that the majority of independent restaurateurs can use. So whether you run a small fish and chip joint, or a Michelin-starred bistro, there are several reasons why TouchBistro is the better all-around POS solution for restaurateurs:
When it comes to POS features, more isn’t always better. Though TouchBistro may not offer hundreds of niche features, the ones it does offer are best-in-class implementations of the tools that restaurateurs actually need to run a successful business. With TouchBistro, you’re getting the highest quality, over sheer quantity.
And while the dozens of niche features that providers like Lavu offer may be valuable to those with very specific restaurant concepts – like pizza parlors – most restaurants will find that too many features can actually make a system overly cluttered, complicated, and difficult to learn. Not to mention, if all those features only support basic functions, it means that your POS may be unable to carry out some of the most important day-to-day functions.
Reservations management software like TouchBistro Reservations is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for restaurants – especially in the wake of COVID-19. Reservations software not only helps to fill tables and create more predictable wait times for guests, but these systems can also assist with more modern functions, such as helping to track capacity and collecting information for contact tracing purposes.
Though it may not be a deal-breaker for every restaurant, not having an integrated reservation system is a major drawback. If restaurants are forced to use a third-party reservation integration (like they do with Lavu POS), they may have to pay a fee per cover, which can quickly add up. Additionally, some third-party reservation apps also own a restaurant’s guest booking data, which means that the reservation company will have 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.
You may not think about it until you really need it, but strong customer support is essential to a great POS system. TouchBistro was created by restaurant people, for restaurant people, which is why the company’s customer support team is primarily made up of people with first-hand restaurant experience. This dedication to providing best-in-class support 24/7, 365 days of the year, is part of why TouchBistro has received the best International Customer Service Team of the Year award multiple times.
Of course, TouchBistro isn’t the only company that offers 24/7 support. In fact, Lavu prides itself on offering both live support and an extensive resource library. However, great support is about more than just being available. If you scour recent Lavu POS reviews, many suggest that Lavu’s support is inconsistent. And when you’re a restaurateur facing a major POS issue in the middle of service, you don’t want to worry about the quality of support you’re about to receive.
When it comes down to it, every restaurant is different and your list of must-haves, may look a whole lot different from that of the restaurant down the street. This restaurant POS system comparison of TouchBistro vs Lavu is designed to help you hone in on those must-haves, and make sure that you end up with the best POS system and payment processing solution for your specific restaurant.
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Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager 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.
By Jackie Prange
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