Point of Sale
The core of our all-in-one restaurant management system
From food trucks to FSRs, get the POS built for restaurants.
By Katherine Pendrill
If you’re in the market for a new restaurant POS system, you’ve probably considered two of the most popular options out there: TouchBistro vs Toast.
While both POS systems were created specifically to meet the needs of restaurants, there are some important differences between the two. From the operating system and type of hardware used, to add-on products available, it’s important to know what each system offers before switching POS providers.
That’s where this guide comes in. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve done your homework for you and conducted a head-to-head restaurant POS system comparison of TouchBistro vs Toast on all the features that matter to today’s restaurateurs.
To find out how these top restaurant POS systems stack up, this guide will compare TouchBistro vs Toast on the following:
With this head-to-head comparison of TouchBistro vs Toast, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about which POS system is right for your restaurant. You can also learn more about other top 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.
Both TouchBistro and Toast are industry-leading POS systems built for modern restaurant management. Both companies are highly rated and designed specifically to meet the needs of restaurants, cafes, bars, and other foodservice establishments.
But while TouchBistro and Toast may seem similar upon first glance, there are some important differences between the two systems. Below, we’ll provide a quick overview of Toast vs TouchBistro, including how the systems differ and what that means for restaurateurs weighing their POS options.
When you compare TouchBistro vs Toast, one of the most notable differences is the type of POS system.
Toast is a cloud-based system, which means that your data is stored in the cloud on remote servers. Cloud-based systems allow you to access your information remotely over the Internet, which is not the case with traditional, legacy POS systems.
Having a cloud-based system makes it easier for you to run and access your data anytime, anywhere. However, this kind of reliance on the Internet also comes with some drawbacks. With an entirely cloud-based system like Toast, if you lose the Internet, your entire POS (and all the features it supports) go down with it – a huge problem for any restaurant, especially in the middle of service.
Unlike Toast, TouchBistro is a hybrid POS system. This means that you enjoy the same convenience of being able to run and access your data as a cloud POS, but there is also a hardwired, local connection for your POS that can act as a backup if the Internet goes down in your venue. The major benefit of a hybrid POS system is that there’s no risk of downtime, even if you lose your Internet connection. And no downtime means no missed service or unhappy customers who have to wait to order or pay.
Another major difference between TouchBistro vs Toast is the operating system that each POS runs on.
Toast is powered by an Android operating system. Android systems are known for their flexibility and customized solutions, which can be a plus if you need a bespoke solution for your restaurant. However, the Android operating system comes with a steep learning curve and updates are often fragmented due to the variances in available hardware. Not to mention, Android systems are the primary target of malware, meaning they are at a higher risk of security breaches.
In contrast, TouchBistro runs on Apple’s iOS operating system. The biggest benefit of iOS is that it’s a closed platform, meaning it’s less virus-prone than Android systems and updates are rolled out seamlessly across devices. And while iOS offers fewer opportunities for customization, this can actually be a good thing. Less customization results in more consistency, meaning the user-friendly system is easy for staff to pick up – especially if they’re already familiar with Apple products.
While the type of POS and operating system are a matter of preference, regional availability can be an immediate deal-breaker.
Toast operates exclusively in the U.S., meaning it’s unavailable to restaurants in Canada, Mexico, and other parts of the world. Even if this is not an immediate concern, it’s something to take into consideration if you have plans to expand your restaurant empire beyond the U.S..
TouchBistro has a more global footprint, operating in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., and more. TouchBistro is also configured to meet the unique needs of restaurants in each region so you don’t have to worry about missing features or language barriers.
If you do a restaurant POS system comparison of all the biggest players, you’ll find a number of common features, including menu management, inventory tracking, and tableside ordering. These are the primary POS functions that every restaurant relies on to streamline and improve operations.
When you compare Toast vs TouchBistro on core POS features, both platforms are equipped with the following:
For the most part, TouchBistro and Toast are equipped with very similar POS features, all of which help to make running your restaurant easier and more efficient.
In some cases, Toast’s core POS features are more robust and customizable, such as its multi-location management features. While this is a plus for large, multi-unit restaurants, these features are not valuable to independent, single-location venues. In fact, the sheer number of complex functions that Toast offers can sometimes make navigating the software overwhelming and slow down the initial training process.
Though TouchBistro does offer multi-unit management through its integration with Avero, TouchBistro’s core POS features lack some of the bells and whistles that Toast offers. TouchBistro was specifically designed with independent restaurants in mind – most of which do not need enterprise-level functionality. This more streamlined list of functions not only makes the software easier to learn, but also faster to navigate during service. In other words, the core POS features are equipped with everything you need to run a restaurant, and nothing you don’t.
With a better understanding of each POS system, it’s time to address the issue of hardware. Though POS hardware encompasses everything from the cash drawer to the receipt printer, it’s the tablets that run POS software that vary most between systems.
Toast strongly encourages its customers to purchase Toast’s own hardware, which includes its proprietary Toast Flex tablets, Elo Touch tablets, and custom-built devices like Toast Go — all of which run on an Android operating system.
While Android tablets are well suited to restaurants, Toast’s strict hardware requirements come with some major drawbacks, such as the risk of supply chain issues. For instance, the global chip shortage is currently causing major production issues for many manufacturers, including the manufacturers of Toast’s Android tablets. As a result, Toast has a limited supply of tablets currently available, which means you might not be able to get enough terminals for your venue. Not to mention, it may be difficult to get ahold of additional tablets to expand your business or to replace any existing hardware that is broken or outdated. And with the chip shortage projected to cause supply chain challenges for years to come, these hardware shortages could be an ongoing issue.
Supply issues aside, another downside to Toast’s hardware setup is that it relies solely on Android devices, which tend to have a less seamless integration between the hardware and the software than Apple products. Though this is unlikely to cause any problems if you’re using Toast’s proprietary hardware, it could be an issue if you opt to use your own Android devices (something that Toast discourages).
Beyond the technical considerations, it’s also important to think about the user experience. If you are already familiar with Android devices, Toast’s hardware will be nothing new. However, if you (or your staff) tend to favor Apple devices, Toast’s Android tablets come with a steeper learning curve, which could slow down the training process.
On the other hand, TouchBistro runs on iOS, which means that the only POS tablets you can use are iPads. Like Toast, this means that you’re limited to a fairly small selection of available tablets. However, you’re not obligated to purchase your tablets directly from TouchBistro, which could save you money if you already own an iPad. Not to mention, there’s less risk of supply issues because Apple is a major player in the electronics industry and has largely avoided disruptions caused by the global chip shortage.
In addition to being readily available, iPads also have some major technological advantages. Unlike Android devices, iPads integrate seamlessly with iOS software. This is because Apple owns both the hardware (the iPad) and the software (iOS) so the two are designed to work in tandem with one another for seamless integration. As a result, iOS security updates will roll out automatically across all Apple devices, ensuring your software is never out of date.
Finally, iPads are a very intuitive out-of-the-box solution – even for staff who aren’t familiar with Apple devices. This can help to speed up the training process and make it easier for staff to troubleshoot if issues arise.
Both Toast and TouchBistro offer additional, add-on features, which allow restaurants to expand the functionality of their POS systems. These add-on solutions include everything from payment processing and online ordering, to customer loyalty programs and reservations.
While TouchBistro and Toast may offer similar core POS features, when it comes to payment processing solutions, the two systems couldn’t be more different. And for many restaurants, this could be a deciding factor.
Toast offers integrated payments with all of its POS packages. However, Toast is not compatible with other payment processors – if you want to use Toast POS, you’ve got to use Toast Payments as well.
Another major consideration is the cost of using Toast Payments. Unlike some other payment processors, Toast’s frees are structured according to a fixed rate pricing model. This means that the payment processor 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 premium credit cards, you pay the same fee per transaction regardless.
The benefit to Toast’s fixed rate pricing model is that it’s simple and predictable – you pay the same rate regardless of what type of card is used. The downside is that 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. So if you have a lot of customers paying with low-cost cards like no-fee credit cards and debit cards, you’re paying a lot more per transaction than you could be.
It’s also important to note that with a fixed rate pricing model, Toast reserves the right to increase its credit card processing fees at any time during the contract, as long as 30 days’ advance written notice is provided – something that can throw a major wrench in your budget.
And you’d better be prepared to stick it out with Toast Payments for a while because the payments contracts can be up to three years long, and automatically renew after the initial term for another year. If you want to break your contract, you’ll have to pay an Early Termination Fee, which is equal to the remaining software fees for your term, plus “any applicable processing fee related to software financing.”
While Toast Payments is required to use the Toast POS system, TouchBistro offers much more flexibility, letting you add-on the payment processor that’s the best option for your business.
In the U.S., TouchBistro offers its own integrated TouchBistro Payments solution, which is powered by Chase. Unlike Toast Payments, TouchBistro Payments is structured according to a cost plus (or interchange plus) pricing model. With this pricing model, the restaurant owner pays the non-negotiable interchange fee (for the type of credit card) and a flat mark-up on interchange.
The benefit to this pricing model is that you pay a custom rate for every transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions – no matter the type of card or method of payment is used. For restaurants that serve customers who use a wide variety of cards, this means you’re getting the most equitable rate.
While TouchBistro Payments is a great option for U.S.-based restaurant, TouchBistro customers also have the flexibility to go with one of TouchBistro’s other payment partners:
This freedom to choose an outside payment processor allows restaurants to shop around and choose the best payment processing rates for their specific business.
Though payment processing is one of the most common add-on solutions, both TouchBistro and Toast offer additional POS features.
The way both providers structure their packages, restaurants can pick and choose which add-on features they want based on the specific needs of their restaurant. When comparing Toast vs TouchBistro, both offer the following add-on features:
Beyond these common add-on features, Toast offers a few additional add-on options that TouchBistro does not. For instance, the company offers a Toast Delivery Services add-on, which allows restaurants to dispatch local drivers for delivery orders for a flat fee. For some restaurants, the option to outsource food delivery through Toast’s delivery-as-a-service solution can be a welcome alternative to high-priced services like DoorDash and Uber Eats.
In contrast, TouchBistro has one important add-on that Toast does not: integrated reservations. TouchBistro Reservations is a complete reservation and guest management platform that allows you to accept and manage mobile and web reservations. These reservations sync directly to your POS for a seamless flow of information between the front of house and back of house. Restaurants that use TouchBistro Reservations are also automatically listed on the TouchBistro Dine platform, allowing them to tap into an existing customer network. Though not all restaurants need this kind of robust reservations system, it can be a valuable add-on feature for many FSRs – especially in light of new COVID-19 dining restrictions.
Beyond their own platforms, TouchBistro and Toast also support integrations for third-party software that can be synced with your POS system. These best-in-class partners offer specialized solutions and services for tasks such as accounting, loyalty, delivery, and more.
Both TouchBistro and Toast offer integrations for the following kinds of services:
If you’re comparing TouchBistro vs Toast on the sheer number of integration partners, there’s no doubt that Toast comes out on top. Toast also has an open API, which means you can develop your own integrations if you choose to.
While TouchBistro does not offer as many integrations, the ones it does support are industry-leading tools that are already used by many restaurants. For instance, TouchBistro supports popular scheduling software such as 7Shifts, advanced inventory solutions like MarketMan, and online ordering aggregators like Deliverect. For most restaurants, this narrow list of choices may be preferable to choosing between dozens of different integrations that carry out virtually the same functions.
If you’re comparing TouchBistro vs Toast, there’s probably one big factor that could be a deal-breaker: the cost. Fortunately, both companies have fairly straightforward pricing structures.
Toast’s Starter plan is priced at $0 per month for the most basic POS setup. While this sounds like a great deal, keep in mind that you will need to pay for Toast Payments and any additional features you require. As a result, the Starter plan is really best for food trucks, cafes, and bakeries – not restaurants – looking to get up and running very quickly.
Toast’s more complete POS package is the Essentials subscription, which starts at $165 per month. For this price, you get the core POS features, 24/7/365 support, and unlimited software updates. Online ordering and the Toast Takeout App are also included with this package, but other features will cost you extra.
Like Toast, TouchBistro has different tiers of pricing based on what you need. Software fees start at $69 per month for one license, and with TouchBistro’s tiered pricing, the price per license decreases with each additional license purchased.
All of TouchBistro’s plans include the core POS features, unlimited users, free updates, and 24/7/365 support. And like Toast, you will have to pay extra for some of TouchBistro’s add-on features, such as Online Ordering, Gift Cards, Reservations, and Loyalty.
Regardless of which system you choose, you’ll also need to consider the cost of hardware (tablets, printers, servers, etc.), and any installation and setup fees. However, these fees can vary wildly depending on the restaurant and your setup, so it’s best to get a quote upfront.
To support their core POS features and any add-on solutions, both TouchBistro and Toast offer round-the-clock technical support and customer service. Both companies offer 24/7 support via phone or email, 365 days of the year. This means that restaurateurs can get answers to any questions or issues, no matter what time of day it is. Both companies also boast extensive resource libraries with step-by-step guides and videos that staff can use to troubleshoot any issues.
When you compare TouchBistro vs Toast directly, it’s clear that both POS systems can handle the needs of most restaurants, cafes, bars, food trucks, and breweries. Both systems have similar core POS features, and a lengthy list of add-ons and integrations that can help restaurants solve a variety of different challenges.
When faced with a choice between the two systems, Toast might be the better option for large, multi-unit venues, such as chain restaurants. Toast not only offers more enterprise-level features, but it also supports more opportunities for customization and offers a lengthy list of niche third-party integrations.
Unlike Toast, TouchBistro is not ideal for restaurants that require an intricate bespoke solution. However, TouchBistro is a better out-of-the-box, all-around POS solution for independent restaurants for three main reasons:
Unlike Toast, TouchBistro is a hybrid POS system. With a hybrid system, you get to enjoy all the speed and flexibility of a cloud-based system, such as taking tablets tableside for remote ordering and viewing reports on the go, but you also have a locally installed connection to keep you up and running if the Internet goes down.
While this might not seem like a must-have feature, just think about how many restaurants struggle with slow, spotty, or unreliable Internet connections. If your POS is going down every time the Internet goes out, this means you’re constantly losing revenue from lost orders. With a hybrid POS system, you don’t need to worry about every Internet outage impacting your bottom line.
TouchBistro runs on an iOS operating system and uses Apple hardware. While Android systems have their advantages, Apple is generally considered the more reliable and user-friendly option when it comes to restaurant POS systems.
When you’re running a business as fast-paced as a restaurant, you need POS hardware and software that integrate seamlessly – you don’t want your servers fiddling with settings or restarting devices in the middle of service. Since Apple owns both the hardware (the iPad) and the software (iOS), the two are specifically designed to work in tandem for a seamless integration between your POS software and tablets – something that’s not a given with all Android systems.
Perhaps one of TouchBistro’s biggest selling features is its integrated reservations add-on – a feature that’s become an especially valuable tool in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. TouchBistro Reservations is an in-house end-to-end reservations system and guest management platform that integrates seamlessly with your POS.
With online reservations becoming the norm rather than the exception, you need a reservation system that you can count on. If you’re forced to rely on a third-party reservations integration instead of an in-house solution, you run the risk of losing precious data to bugs and errors. Not to mention, getting a hold of a third-party vendor for technical support can be an added complication.
At the end of the day, every restaurant is different and you know what you need from your restaurant POS better than anyone else. And now that you’re armed with the information in this restaurant POS system comparison, you’ll have a little more context when making a decision between TouchBistro vs Toast.
Know a friend using Toast? Refer them to TouchBistro and get rewarded.
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.
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