What is a Restaurant POS System?

And which ones are the most popular for restaurants?


The restaurants that survive the fast pace of the food industry are the ones that run efficiently. There’s no time to waste in the kitchen when suppliers are dropping off your produce, you’re down a server, and guests are waiting for their meal.

An important factor of maintaining flow in every aspect of your business is to make sure all your operations are smooth—from the tech you use to place your orders with suppliers to the system you use to collect payment from customers.

Sales are a key driver for restaurant growth, so it’s wise to invest in your sales process to make it as efficient as possible. At the heart of this is your POS system.

What is a POS System?

POS stands for “Point of Sale” and it’s a computerized system that allows restaurants to track sales, cash flow and food inventory—making your bookkeeping and accounting much easier.

A POS system can be simple with minimal features or much more powerful depending on the tool you use. While it can be helpful to have a tool that has more capabilities, there is typically a heftier price associated with more features.

Another aspect to consider as you decide on a restaurant POS system is whether you need it to be mobile. Mobile POS functionality has been growing steadily over the last few years. Typically, this looks like sales functionality that can be used on a phone or tablet. This enables a restaurant to bring the POS to the table and quickly process payments. The downside is that this kind of system can be expensive, with mobile devices and upkeep needed for each server working the floor.

Mobile or web-based POS systems integrate payment processing and some aspects of restaurant management to make it easier to keep track of your inventory, popular dishes and peak sales windows.

Why is a POS system for a restaurant helpful?

Because restaurants operate at such a fast pace, cash and credit cards need to move quickly and easily through your sales process in order to turn tables and keep customers happy. This high sales volume makes a good POS system especially important because it can track every penny that comes in as well as act as a credit card processor.

An equally important part of managing a restaurant is effective communication. Another benefit of POS systems is the streamlined communication between the kitchen and wait staff. Orders from the table or server station go directly through the computer into the kitchen printer so that your chefs can quickly start preparing the food.

And lastly, a POS system can also act as a time clock—making payroll much easier than having to manually enter each timesheet.

A restaurant POS system is so much more than a method for inputting sales. It streamlines communication, accounting and payroll, all in one easy-to-use machine. It’s up to you to decide which option is right for your business size and needs.

What Are the Most Popular POS Systems for Restaurants?

The best way to figure out which POS option is best for you is by doing your research and taking stock of your budget. Balance the necessary features you’re looking for with a price that works for you. Many vendors offer tiered options, so you can buy-in with a POS system at a lower price while you’re still growing and then upgrade as your demand increases.

From our research with various restaurateurs, the top 5 most popular choices are:

  • TouchBistro: Starting at $69 a month, TouchBistro is built for restaurant management and sales. Features include a mobile POS option, table and menu management, staff scheduling and payroll, integrations for other software you’re using and reporting.

  • Square: Square is one of the most popular POS systems in the world. While not designed solely for restaurant use, the features offered by Square are considerable and include a mobile POS, online ordering, a kitchen display system, and hardware for processing credit card payments. Best of all, you can start with Square for free.

  • Toast: Designed for restaurants, Toast is a popular POS option. With their Pay-As-You-Go option, you can get a terminal and payment processor for $0 and pay a slightly higher percentage of each payment processed. Features include handheld options, contactless payments, online ordering, payroll and marketing campaigns.

  • Lightspeed: As one of the biggest retail and restaurant POS options, Lightspeed offers a fully-integrated restaurant platform. Features include online ordering, a restaurant floor map, contactless payments, delivery integration, payment reports, inventory management and more. Their package options start at $39 a month.

  • Clover: Clover is a popular small-business POS system offering easy payments and comprehensive tracking. Features include payment processing, hardware devices, online ordering, invoicing and reporting.

Do your research before investing in a system but realize that there are plenty of great models to choose from, and all of the options listed above can offer the necessary functionality to make and track sales.

Efficiency will continue to be a keyword for the restaurant industry in 2022—especially as many restaurants continue to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19. Investing in a technology that streamlines your processes, like a POS system, will save you countless hours and prevent headaches in the process.