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By Katherine Pendrill
If you’re a restaurateur in the market for a brand-new POS, you’ve probably compared TouchBistro vs SpotOn.
That’s because both these POS providers offer an impressive list of in-house features along with some of the most competitive payment processing rates out there.
But while TouchBistro and SpotOn are both popular options among restaurants, there are some very important differences between the two POS systems. While TouchBisto was originally built as a POS for restaurants, SpotOn started as a marketing and loyalty platform that has since transformed into a payment processing and POS software. As a result, the two companies have taken very different approaches to their products and how they serve their customers.
Of course, spotting all these differences can be tricky, which is why we’ve broken everything down for you. In our complete TouchBistro vs SpotOn POS review, we’ll cover:
With the help of this in-depth review, you’ll be able to see how TouchBistro vs SpotOn compare, so you can make the best decision for your restaurant. You can even compare TouchBistro to other top restaurant POS providers with 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.
Upon first glance, TouchBistro and SpotOn may seem like very similar solutions. Both are modern POS systems that run on the cloud and allow restaurants to take orders tableside with wireless, handheld tablets.
However, this is where most of the similarities end. Below, we’ll provide an overview of TouchBistro vs SpotOn and highlight some of the key differences between the two systems.
As mentioned above, both TouchBistro and SpotOn are modern POS systems that run on the cloud. A cloud-based POS system means that all the data is stored in the cloud on remote servers that can be accessed at any time, from any Internet-connected device.
However, in the case of SpotOn, the system is strictly cloud-based, which means that if the internet goes down, the POS system goes down with it. Though this isn’t likely to be a day-to-day problem for many restaurants, it can spell disaster when the WiFi does go out.
In contrast, TouchBistro is a hybrid POS system. TouchBistro offers all the freedom and flexibility of a wireless, cloud-based POS, but with the added safeguard of a hardwired, local connection. This means that if the internet drops, the local connection can act as a backup to keep your POS up and running.
The difference between a hybrid and a strictly cloud-based POS may be subtle, but the difference between operating systems is not.
SpotOn is a bit of an outlier in the restaurant POS space because it runs on a Windows operating system. In turn, this means you can only run the software on the company’s own proprietary WIndow’s devices. While the company’s software is known for its intuitive user interface, it may come with a bit of a learning curve for employees who are used to Apple or Android systems (which is what most restaurants use).
Unlike SpotOn POS, TouchBistro runs on an iOS operating system and uses Apple hardware. iOS is largely considered the gold standard for restaurant POS software because of its user-friendly design. Not to mention, there is a direct integration between Apple’s hardware (the iPad) and the software (iOS), which means seamless security updates and a lower risk of viruses.
Regional availability is another important comparison point when looking at TouchBistro vs SpotOn.
SpotOn’s headquarters are located in San Francisco, California, and the company operates exclusively in the U.S.
In contrast, TouchBistro has a much bigger global footprint than SpotOn. TouchBistro is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, and the company has a strong presence across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Outside of North America, TouchBistro is used in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty and compare TouchBistro vs SpotOn’s main features.
When it comes to basic restaurant POS features, both SpotOn POS and TouchBistro are equipped with the following:
While it may look like SpotOn has all its bases covered, it’s worth noting that SpotOn was not originally created to be a restaurant POS. SpotOn was actually founded as a loyalty and marketing company called SpotOn Transact. Then in 2018, the company purchased a POS company (EmaginePOS) and pivoted to become a full-service small business management company.
This history is important because it demonstrates that SpotOn is actually relatively new to the restaurant POS space. As a result, the company’s core POS product is not quite as advanced as some of the other POS systems on the market. Not to mention, SpotOn’s POS is also marketed to a wide range of industries, demonstrating a lack of focus on building restaurant-specific features. In fact, a recent TechCrunch report stated that 60% of SpotOn’s customers are actually in the retail space.
On the other hand, TouchBistro has always built POS systems specifically for restaurants. Since the company was founded 2011, TouchBistro has been developing industry-leading POS products and services. From inventory management to reporting, all of TouchBistro’s POS features have been built in-house and specifically designed to support the unique challenges of restaurant management. Consequently, this laser focus on the needs of restaurants means that TouchBistro’s core features only continue to improve.
The different approaches that SpotOn and TouchBistro have taken to building a restaurant POS system are also clear when you examine the POS hardware that each system requires.
Unlike many of the best restaurant POS systems on the market, SpotOn runs on a Windows operating system and uses proprietary Windows hardware. This proprietary hardware encompasses everything from payment terminals, to touchscreen monitors and handheld tablet devices. The specific type of hardware each you receive will depend on which subscription plan you choose and the features you need.
While some restaurateurs may appreciate the option to purchase a hardware bundle with everything they need, there are some big drawbacks to using proprietary hardware. On the one hand, investing in proprietary hardware can be very expensive. Though SpotOn does not list hardware pricing on its website, you can expect to shell out at least a few thousand dollars just to get up and running. And if any of those items break, you’ll have to purchase replacements directly through SpotOn, and you won’t have the option to shop around.
Another drawback to investing in proprietary hardware is that you have to be prepared to commit to one specific POS provider for the long haul. Most of the top restaurant POS systems rely on Apple iPads and iOS software, so if you invest in SpotOn’s proprietary Windows devices, you won’t be able to use the devices with another system if you switch POS providers down the line.
Unlike SpotOn, TouchBistro does not require you to invest in proprietary hardware to use its POS software. Instead, TouchBistro relies on Apple’s iPad tablets, alongside other industry-leading hardware. This hardware setup means you have a lot more flexibility because you have the option to use any existing iPads you might have from a previous POS system, as long as they’re compatible models.
Not to mention, iPads are already widely used by consumers – unlike proprietary tablets. This means that staff who are already familiar with iPads will find it quick and easy to start using an iPad POS. And even if staff haven’t used an iPad before, Apple devices are incredibly user-friendly, which can make the initial learning process a whole lot smoother and ultimately speed up the training process.
While both TouchBistro and SpotOn have a very similar set of core POS features, they differ quite a bit when it comes to the add-on solutions they offer.
Of all the add-on solutions you can choose for your POS, restaurant payment processing is one of the most important ones. Though some restaurants still use unintegrated payment processing solutions, more venues now opt for integrated payment solutions through their POS provider.
When it comes to payment processing, SpotOn has restaurants covered. The company offers POS-integrated payments through a plan called SpotOn with Payments, which offers very competitive payment processing rates. In fact, SpotOn’s reasonable rates are one of the company’s biggest strengths.
However, it’s worth noting that there is a catch that comes with these competitive payment processing rates. When you look closely at SpotOn’s payments terms, it states that the company has the ability to change its payments processing pricing at any time with 30 days’ notice. For restaurateurs, this is a major concern as even the smallest fluctuations in prices could eat into already thin profit margins.
There’s also another catch. If you choose to stop using SpotOn’s integrated payment processing, but want to continue using the POS, there is a nearly $1,000 “conversion fee” charge and your monthly software license costs will double. In other words, while you can technically use SpotOn’s POS software with your own choice of payment processor, you’ll end up paying some of the most expensive monthly software fees of any restaurant POS provider.
When it comes to payment processing, TouchBistro is much more transparent about the rates and terms for its integrated payment processing solution, TouchBistro Payments. Not only are TouchBistro Payments’ rates competitive, but they are also structured according to a cost-plus pricing model. This means that 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. For most restaurants, cost-plus pricing trends to be the least expensive payment processing pricing model.
With TouchBistro, there is also the flexibility to choose your own payment processing solution if that’s the right fit for your restaurant. TouchBistro integrates with several leading payment processing solutions, allowing you to shop around for the best rate. And if you choose to use a third-party payment processing solution with the TouchBistro POS, you don’t have to worry about your monthly software fees going up (like you do with SpotOn).
Beyond integrated payment processing, POS providers like TouchBistro and SpotOn also offer additional add-on solutions.
When you compare TouchBistro vs SpotOn side-by-side, it’s clear that they both offer many of the same add-on solutions:
In addition to the products listed above, SpotOn also does offer some additional add-ons that may be valuable to restaurants. For instance, SpotOn has a website-building tool that helps restaurants set up a custom website, complete with their own branding and domain name.
Of course, keep in mind that all these kinds of additional services come at an added cost, which will raise the total monthly cost of using SpotOn. It’s also worth noting that not all of these add-ons were specifically designed with restaurants in mind. For instance, SpotOn also markets the same website builder and ecommerce solution to retail businesses like nail salons and barbershops – businesses that have very different website needs than restaurants.
In contrast, TouchBistro’s add-ons are exclusively designed for the restaurant industry. This means that all of TouchBistro’s research and development is dedicated to creating products that will better meet the needs of today’s restaurateurs. And while TouchBistro may offer a slightly smaller suite of add-on solutions, the ones it does offer cover the most pressing needs of restaurant businesses today.
In the instances where POS providers don’t have in-house add-ons to offer, they often integrate with third-party solutions that can help to extend the functionality of the core POS.
A comparison of TouchBistro vs SpotOn reveals that both POS providers offer third-party integrations for the following kinds of solutions:
Unlike some of the other POS providers on the market, both TouchBistro and SpotOn feature a more tightly curated list of industry-leading third-party integrations. That’s because both companies already offer in-house solutions for many different solutions such as reservations and online ordering.
As important as features are, pricing is one of the biggest factors involved in choosing a new POS system. And when you compare the pricing of TouchBistro vs SpotOn, there are some important differences to note.
As mentioned previously, SpotOn’s POS software pricing differs widely depending on whether you use integrated payments or not. If you do opt for SpotOn With Payments, you’re looking at a reasonable monthly fee of $25 per month, plus the cost of your specific SpotOn platform plan. In terms of platform plans, most restaurants will need SpotOn Restaurant, which is priced at $65 per month (on top of the $25 per month for integrated payments). If you choose a package without integrated payments, you can expect to pay nearly $200 per month for the software, plus the cost of your platform plan.
Though SpotOn’s pricing is fairly reasonable (if you choose a package with integrated payments that is), it’s worth noting that your monthly software costs may not stay that way over time. If you look at SpotOn’s Merchant Terms, you’ll notice that they have the ability to change the pricing of their product at any time with 30 days notice. This is an important point to consider when comparing software prices because even a small price increase could make a big dent in your restaurant’s annual budget.
On the other hand, TouchBistro’s monthly software fees start at $69 per month, with your total monthly software costs depending on the number of POS terminals you need. However, the key difference between TouchBistro and SpotOn’s pricing is that TouchBisto’s merchant terms are much more clear and transparent. TouchBistro’s merchant terms give customers the assurance that their pricing will remain stable for its duration, allowing them to operate their business with confidence.
In addition to pricing, customer support can also be a make-or-break issue when it comes to choosing a new POS provider.
SpotOn prides itself on offering 24/7 U.S.-based support via phone or email. SpotOn also offers in-person hardware installation, face-to-face staff training, and ongoing virtual training for both staff and management. For the most part, the SpotOn POS reviews about the company’s customer support are quite positive.
TouchBistro also offers free 24/7 customer service and technical support 365 days of the year. TouchBistro’s support team is also largely staffed by former and current restaurant staff and managers, so you can be confident that the person on the other end of the line will understand the issue you’re facing. TouchBistro also has an online resource library, complete with step-by-step guides and videos that can be used to help you and your staff troubleshoot most problems on your own without having to call in.
Based on the above review of TouchBistro vs SpotOn, it’s clear that there are a few key similarities between the two restaurant POS systems. Both are modern restaurant management solutions that allow restaurants to tackle everything from tableside ordering and menu management, to reservations and customer loyalty.
However, there are also many differences between the two systems as well. SpotOn’s biggest strength is its large suite of in-house value-added services, especially its website builder, ecommerce solution, and marketing services. However, many of these add-ons were designed to complement other industries outside of the hospitality space, such as auto repair shops, salons, barbershops, and other retail businesses. As a result, SpotOn is best suited to restaurants with a retail component to their business – such as breweries with bottle shops or cafes that also sell groceries – than it is to full service restaurant concepts.
In contrast, TouchBistro was specifically designed by restaurant people, for restaurant people. No matter what size of venue you run, there are several reasons why TouchBistro is the better all-around POS and restaurant management solution for all venue types.
Since launching the first-ever iPad-based restaurant POS back in 2011, TouchBistro has not strayed from its mission to help restaurateurs run their businesses better. While other POS companies have expanded their portfolios to include other industries, TouchBistro has continued to dedicate all ongoing research and development to making products specifically for restaurants. This means that TouchBistro’s solutions will continue to evolve and improve in lockstep with the restaurant industry.
In contrast, SpotOn creates products for a wide range of industries and business types – from salons to dental offices. As mentioned, more than half (60%) of SpotOn’s customers are in the retail space. This means that the company’s focus is split across many different business needs, with less dedicated time and energy going into the development of restaurant-specific solutions. Over time, this may mean that restaurateurs are not getting access to the most cutting-edge technology or to the upgrades needed to adapt to a changing industry landscape.
TouchBistro is also a better all-around POS option for restaurants that need integrated payment processing because of its competitive rates and transparent approach. On the one hand, TouchBistro Payments relies on a cost-plus pricing model, which generally gives the merchant a more competitive rate because you pay a custom rate for every transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions. Not to mention, TouchBistro provides clear payment processing terms upfront, so you don’t have to worry about your fees increasing unexpectedly.
SpotOn also offers competitive payment processing rates, however, the company’s approach is payment processing is a bit less transparent. SpotOn’s terms state that they have the ability to raise a merchant’s payment processing fees with little notice, which can be a major blow to small businesses like restaurants. Additionally, SpotOn charges merchants a hefty fee if they decide to stop using integrated payments, but want to continue using the POS software – an approach that can put some business owners in a tricky position.
Lastly, there is the issue of hardware. TouchBistro uses non-proprietary hardware such as Apple iPads, which can be used with a wide range of POS systems. This gives customers the opportunity to save on hardware costs by “bringing their own” device if they switch to TouchBistro from another iPad POS system. It also means that if they decide to switch POS software in the future, they likely won’t need to purchase all new hardware.
In contrast, POS systems that use proprietary hardware, such as SpotOn, can leave restaurateurs feeling handcuffed to their system. That’s because investing in an entirely new set of proprietary hardware is incredibly expensive, and since that hardware can’t be used with any other POS software, many customers feel disincentivized to make a switch. This lack of flexibility can be frustrating for many restaurateurs, especially if they feel that their POS isn’t meeting their needs.
At the end of the day, choosing a new restaurant POS system is a big decision and it’s clear that there are a lot of different factors to consider. With this head-to-head comparison of TouchBistro vs SpotOn, now you have crucial information that can help you make an informed decision about the POS system and integrated payment processing solution that’s right for your restaurant. You can also compare TouchBistro to other leader POS systems with our free Ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurant POS Systems.
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 Katie McCann
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