Our picks for best restaurant POS systems
Our pick for: overall restaurant POS
Software cost: Free and up.
Hardware cost: $799 for Toast’s Starter Kit, which includes a Toast Flex POS terminal, contactless card reader and router (no tablet required). Clients can also pay for the kit as a percentage of their sales over time. A two-year contract is required in both scenarios.
Payment processing cost: 2.99% plus 15 cents per transaction if you don’t pay for the Starter Kit upfront; 2.49% plus 15 cents per card-present transaction and 3.5% plus 15 cents per card-not-present transaction if you pay for the Starter Kit upfront.
Why we like it: Among other restaurant-specific features, Toast lets restaurants compare actual versus theoretical performance and add Toast Delivery Services to subscription plans. The in-house delivery service platform charges a flat fee for each order instead of a percentage of the order.
Toast runs on an Android operating system and recommends that clients use its hardware instead of their own tablets.
Our pick for: free plan
Software cost: Free and up.
Hardware cost: $1,389 and up for a Square Register Kit, which includes a Square register, cash drawer, receipt paper and receipt printer (no tablet required).
Payment processing cost: 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction; 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments.
Why we like it: In addition to a free plan, Square offers flexibility to scale the system, cancel your plan without fees and pay for hardware in installments makes it an exceptional option for new restaurants, even though the free plan doesn’t include 24/7 support.
Though Square can operate on Android tablets, the tablet accessories offered on its site are mostly compatible with iPads.
Our pick for: quick-service restaurants
Software cost: $44.95 per month and up for quick service restaurants.
Hardware cost: $1,349 for the Station Solo, which includes a POS station, receipt printer and cash drawer (no tablet required).
Payment processing cost: 2.3% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction; 3.5% plus 10 cents per keyed-in transaction for table-service restaurants; can also choose from third-party payment processors.
Why we like it: Because employees can walk around with the Clover Flex and accept payments, it can help shorten long lines. The Full-Service Restaurant plan also includes features like a customer loyalty program and online ordering that some competitors treat as add-ons. The company doesn’t offer its own kitchen display hardware, but you can sync information between front and back-of-house via a third-party app.
Clover runs on an Android operating system and does not let clients use tablets that weren’t purchased through the company.
Our pick for: reporting capabilities
Software cost: $59 per month and up plus $40 to $60 per terminal.
Hardware cost: $1,350 for a POS terminal with a monitor and card reader (no tablet required).
Payment processing cost: A flat-rate, quote-based fee.
Why we like it: Upserve offers impressive reporting capabilities. It also handles Reputation Management, which collects all of the restaurant’s online reviews and reports them back, and Restaurant Logbook, which establishes a clear line of communication between employees and managers. Employees use the logbook to provide feedback and ask questions, while managers answer those questions via the Upserve Live app.
Upserve has customizable solutions for bars, breweries, coffee shops, delis, quick-service restaurants and more. Its Training Mode setting walks new employees through the different workflows they need to know, making it easy to learn. The system supports a variety of iPads and Android tablets, but the accessories on its site are mostly tailored to iPads. The company is owned by Lightspeed, which is another POS provider.
Our pick for: customizability
Software cost: Starts at $39 per month plus $39 per month per additional register.
Hardware cost: Quote-based.
Payment processing cost: 2.6% plus 10 cents per card-present transaction and 2.6% plus 30 cents per card-not-present transaction with Lightspeed Payments; can also choose from third-party payment processors.
Why we like it: Aside from customizability, Lightspeed Restaurant is also a good fit for restaurants that want the freedom to choose a third-party payment processor.
Lightspeed is compatible with a variety of iPads and iPhones and is optimized for use with iOS systems. Its supported hardware page doesn’t list any Android tablets.
Our pick for: locally installed option
Software cost: Starts at $69 per month.
Hardware cost: Quote-based.
Payment processing cost: Quote-based if you use TouchBistro Payments; can also choose from third-party payment processors.
Why we like it: TouchBistro is a locally installed system that has solutions for all types of restaurants, including food trucks, catering companies and bakeries. TouchBistro lets restaurants advertise their menu on a bigger screen via Apple TV, too. And since the POS system and digital menu board are synced, staff can make changes to the menu in real-time.
TouchBistro is an iPad POS system. It’s compatible with most iPad models but not Android devices.
How to choose a restaurant POS system
Consider the following factors when choosing a POS system for your restaurant:
Payment processing. A payment processor allows you to accept card payments, an important capability for most restaurants. Some POS providers offer their own payment processing services, while others give you the option to connect with various third-party processors.
Front-of-house management. All restaurants need to take, process and manage orders from customers. The best POS system for your restaurant will allow you to manage your front-of-house operations in the way that makes everything run smoothly, whether that includes tableside ordering, splitting and authorizing checks, communicating with the kitchen or managing your floor plan.
Menu and inventory management. A restaurant POS system should allow you to customize the menu, track inventory and note modifications, special offers and sold-out items.
Employee management and access. A good system allows you to set up employee access and permissions, schedule shifts, let employees clock in and out and split tips.
Reporting. Strong reporting capabilities are a must. Look for actual versus theoretical cost reports on food and labor to find opportunities for improving margins. Ideally you should be able to run reports on your restaurant’s different sales channels to see how each channel is performing. This can tell you which dishes are selling best in-house versus takeout, for example.
Integrations. Many restaurant POS systems allow you to connect to additional internal or third-party tools, such as online ordering apps, email marketing software and payroll services.
Support. Consider what kind of customer support is offered by restaurant POS providers. Some providers have phone, chat and email support, as well as implementation and training services. If your restaurant is open late at night, go with a product that offers 24/7 support.