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- Date Established
- New York, NY
It seems like no matter who we are or where we come from, we all end up taking a job in food service at one point or another. I can still remember my days of waiting tables through college; dealing with difficult customers, writing food tickets by hand, and adding up checks with a calculator (believe it or not, this was in the 2000s; the restaurant I worked at was just very technologically behind). These experiences were nothing special or out of the ordinary, unfortunately. Most people have similar unpleasant memories to draw from, including the team of former managers, bartenders, and servers who got together in the early part of this decade to design Breadcrumb, a cloud-based POS system intended to alleviate some of the major headaches of the restaurant/hospitality industry.
Breadcrumb, an easy-to-use, low-cost POS solution, was founded by Seth Harris, a former restaurant and nightclub manager with over 12 years of hospitality experience. Tired of costly POS systems that were outdated, slow, and unreliable, Harris decided to create a new kind of software that would not only made the jobs of restaurant crews easier, but also make establishments themselves more efficient and lucrative. Co-conceived with Harris’ friend and Two Bulls founder Noah Harlan, Breadcrumb allows hospitality businesses to focus on increasing business, rather than simply getting business done.
With features for specialty ordering, table management, and customer management, this POS has everything you’ll need to run a bar, restaurant, nightclub, or café. Best of all, the system works exclusively with the Apple iPad, making it a mobile POS solution. Servers can take and send orders directly at the table, as well as provide digital checks and collect payment.
Although it’s only been around for four years, Breadcrumb has already grabbed the attention of a couple high-profile New York restaurants: Donna, a Brooklyn favorite, and nu-Mexican hot-spot Empellon Cocina. In fact, this POS system has had such great success that Groupon recently bought the entire company for roughly $10-$15 million. Harris and his team were kept on board for their knowledge of the industry, expertise in the POS, connection to current customers, and extensive list of new leads. The Vice President of Groupon’s mobile division, Mihir Shah, describes Harris as “uniquely empathetic to the tight budgets and unique needs of business owners in the food and beverage industry, who often struggle to find technology products that will work perfectly for them.”
All plans include unlimited users and free upgrades for the life of the subscription. Keep in mind that the Breadcrumb app can be downloaded for free on as many iPads as you want, but only run simultaneously on as many as your plan allows. Though Breadcrumb does not offer any kind of free trial, it does have a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee which allows you to return any hardware you ordered through the company and receive a refund for the subscription fee. As with any guarantee, this one is subject to terms and conditions.
There are four paid plans available:
- Solo – $99 per month, up to 1 device.
- Café – $199 per month, up to 2 devices.
- Mid-Size – $299 per month, up to 5 devices.
- Flagship – $399 per month, up to 10 devices.
Any more than 10 devices will require contacting the Breadcrumb sales department.
Web-Based or Locally-Installed:
Breadcrumb is web-based and exclusively mobile—the system will not work on traditional desktop computers, and is only suited for iPad use. Like other cloud systems, it may be accessed via a web browser, so to run the system you must have a wireless network and a broadband Internet connection. Fortunately, Breadcrumb has an Offline Mode, which allows you to keep operating during Internet outages.
Breadcrumb is built for quick service restaurants, full-service restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges, and nightclubs. The POS supports all sorts of ordering: table (eating in), to-go (eating out), delivery, and bar tabs. Basically, Breadcrumb is intended for any business that requires a menu.
Specific Size of Business:
Breadcrumb claims to accommodate all menu sizes, whether your dining selections are as extensive and intimidating as those at the Cheesecake Factory, or as small and specialized as In-N-Out Burger (though, smaller businesses seem to have better luck–see the “Negative Reviews and Complaints” section). Breadcrumb allows you to manage and compare data from multiple restaurant locations.
Ease of Use:
Breadcrumb features the kind of design, customization, and mobility that allows business owners to focus on earning revenue without the distraction of a complicated POS.
- Design – The Breadcrumb interface is elegant and orderly. Navigating the system is extremely easy, making training new employees a simple task that can be done in less than a day. Since the system only runs on the iPad, swift and simple taps and sweeps of the finger operate the entire terminal.
- Customization – Breadcrumb is highly customizable, allowing you to create as many menu items as you want and organize them to your liking into groups (e.g. appetizers, salads, entrees, drinks, etc.) that appear as tabs on the right side of the screen for easy access.
- Mobility – The mobility of the iPad makes tableside ordering a breeze without the need for scratch pads or hand tickets. With a few taps, you can edit an item from the check by deleting or modifying items, indicating seat position, specifying quantity, and making notes (e.g. VIP guests, allergic to shellfish). You can even change the prices of certain items right at the order screen.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
Breadcrumb only operates on the Apple iPad, though Breadcrumb Live is accessible from any Apple and some Android devices (see “Product Features” for more info). Parameters for the iPad are very relaxed and the 16GB model has more than enough room for the app. Breadcrumb will not work on a PC or Mac (the software is built to run only on Apple’s mobile operating system iOS 8 or later).
- iPad, $399 to $499 – Though not necessary to do so, you do have the option of purchasing iPads through Breadcrumb’s online platform. They offer the iPad Air 16BG, iPad Air 2 16GB, and iPad Mini 3 16GB.
- Wi-Fi Router, $99 to $379 – Breadcrumb supports the Apple Airport Express (which is the cheapest at $99) along with the Meraki MX64W and Meraki Z1. Both Meraki routers are sold exclusively for use with Breadcrumb software.
- Receipt Printer, $320 to $370 – The Citizen Wired Receipt Printer is the less expensive of the two, but for $50 more you can get the Wireless Citizen Printer, which communicates with the Breadcrumb software through a 5GHz Wi-Fi signal.
- Kitchen Printer, $292 – This is a wired mPOS Epson Impact printer with two-color order printing to highlight modification in red.
- iPad Stand, $99 to $199 – Breadcrumb features the Slice 2 Stand for iPad Air 2 on its main website, though other options include the more basic Windfall and Simplicity stands. The Slice and Simplicity can both swivel for on-screen signatures, but not without paying an additional $50 for the rotation base.
- Credit Card Swiper, $105 – The only swiper that will work with Breadcrumb is the Magtek iDynamo reader, which comes with either a 30-pin port or a lightning port.
Breadcrumb also offers several hardware and software packages on its site and advertises customizable packages available upon request.
Breadcrumb performs all necessary functions from the moment a guest is seated to the moment they leave: table management, seat positions, order-taking, adding modifiers, firing orders, printing checks, and accepting payment. What follows is a list of features that go beyond your basic POS software.
- Customization – All of the terminal functions can be customized to your specifications at any time. Breadcrumb representatives can program the preferences to your liking when you purchase the system and then train you to make any future changes yourself.
- Remote Printing – Customizable remote printing means that you can send orders and receipts to as many printers as you’d like (e.g. kitchen printer, bar printer, receipt printer). Terminals can even be set up to communicate only with certain printers or with all of them. It’s up to you.
- Breadcrumb Live – Probably the most convenient of all of Breadcrumb’s management features is the ability to access all of the reporting functions through the Breadcrumb Live app for the iPhone and some Android phones. You can check on sales and real-time data from anywhere.
- Breadcrumb HQ – This is sort of like the back office, where reports are generated; settings can be toyed with; and menus, items, and employees can be created from any device with an Internet connection. Access can be customized per employee responsibilities so not all employees can or should have access to Breadcrumb HQ.
- Offline Mode – Since web-based systems require access to the Internet, Wi-Fi outages can cripple businesses, bringing transactions to a halt. Fortunately, Breadcrumb safeguards against this with Offline Mode, which encrypts and stores credit card data within the iPad until a wireless signal is restored and the transactions can be processed.
- Order Functions – Breadcrumb comes with two modes: Quickserve and Server. Quickserve is designed for to-go ordering with menu items arranged as buttons on tabbed pages. Server mode, on the other hand, arranges the menu in a list on tabbed pages and includes a search function for item names.
- Table Management – Number and organize tables by tapping and dragging them across your virtual floor plan. Divide tables in your restaurant into different zones for simpler server assignments and restaurant management. Color-coding allows you to keep tabs on occupied seats and the meal progression graphic shows which course a table of guests is on.
- Course/Menu Management – Create as many menu items as you want and organize them to your liking. Store item descriptions within the menu so your servers can provide your guests with accurate descriptions of meal ingredients and preparation. You can cancel a menu item as soon as it runs out so servers and bartenders know it’s not available.
- Reporting – Get reports on sales, payments, product mix, labor, check details, voids, comps, and pay in/pay out. The dashboard feature displays report summaries of your most important figures.
- Employee Management – Track employee hours with the built-in time clock and keep your staff informed with the in-app bulletin board. Track cash and credit tips, customize employee access parameters, and assign roles.
- Payment Options – Merge, transfer, or split checks, and process as many credit card payments as you want to pay off a check. Void, comp, or discount individual items or entire checks, set automatic gratuities (like for large parties), and provide either printed or emailed receipts.
- Cash Management – Run checkout reports at end of shifts to balance your till. Set times at the end of day when the system will automatically reconcile batches with your credit card machine.
- Security – Breadcrumb is PCI DSS compliant.
In compliance with the shift to EMV and chip card technology in October, Breadcrumb is also in the process of integrating EMV readers with its POS software. Breadcrumb’s blog states that they plan on having the modifications up and running by September.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
QuickBooks – Not surprisingly, Breadcrumb integrates with the popular accounting software QuickBooks. This function is performed through Breadcrumb HQ, where the system exports a journal file of your sales data that you can then upload to Quickbooks.
Groupon – One of Breadcrumb’s more popular selling points is its seamless integration with Groupon, making it easy for merchants to accept Groupon codes and measure the effectiveness of certain promotions. This integration also enables BPay, Breadcrumb’s payment processing service through Groupon.
Compatible Credit Card Processors:
Breadcrumb works with 6 different processors for its integrated credit card processing, 5 of which are highly ranked by Merchant Maverick: TSYS, First Data, Chase Paymentech, Heartland Payment Systems, and Global Payments. The sixth is BPay, Breadcrumb’s own payment processing system, which is it most customers end up using. Rates and fees vary from provider to provider. If you need help negotiating rates with any of these processors, let us know.
Even if you’d like to stick to your current provider but they are not one of the ones listed, Breadcrumb states:
“If your payment processor is not listed above, please send an e-mail to email@example.com and we will look into the possibility of integrating with your processor.”
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Breadcrumb does not charge additionally for any sort of support plans, but that’s because most of Breadcrumb’s support is available online in training videos, a searchable support knowledgebase, a community forum, and also via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Individualized phone support from a Breadcrumb representative is available through a technical support line.
Although Breadcrumb has a blog and Facebook page, these social media outlets offer little in terms of system support information, focusing more on new Breadcrumb users and Breadcrumb events. However, the company has two Twitter feeds: one for news and the other for service updates and technical support questions.
Of the positive reviews I’ve read, very few have mentioned Breadcrumb’s technical support, leading me to believe there haven’t been many particularly positive experiences. The lack of positive reviews could simple indicate that merchants don’t have feelings one way or the other about the tech support. However, there have been enough negative responses to Breadcrumb’s customer service to know there must be a problem. Some Breadcrumb users have said that the representatives are nice, yet poorly trained and unhelpful. More than half of the negative reviews from various sites voice much stronger opinions though, calling Breadcrumb’s customer service “atrocious” and “non-existent.” My own experience with the sales department was not completely negative, but quite a few of my questions went unanswered.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
No eCommerce Integrations – In an age when technology is becoming more and more cohesive and helping to streamline our daily functions, the fact that the system currently offers no integrations with any sort of eCommerce applications is a big let down. I mean how much cooler would it be if the system also allowed for people to place orders online with the option of delivery or take-out? It’s a whole new outlet for generating business that is being passed over. One Breadcrumb user claims a sales representative told her this capability would be available in 2013 (she purchased the system in 2011), but that has yet to become a reality and at least one customer is not happy about it.
Limited Inventory Tracking – Now you might ask why is inventory such a big deal for a hospitality business? Well, knowing your costs and the quantities of ingredients on hand is an integral factor in determining menu pricing and profit margins. Other POS systems I’ve reviewed with hospitality capabilities (namely PC America) have the power to track how much of an ingredient should be used for an item, a function especially helpful at the bar for identifying overpours, unjustified comps, and theft. Ingredient tracking could also help in maintaining appropriate stock levels so extra food is not purchased only to be thrown out later from spoiling.
Poor Customer Service – As mentioned above, customer service has been a common complaint in the comment sections of most review sites. A Brooklyn merchant writes that Breadcrumb’s “customer service is quite poor” and that “people have been outright rude more than a handful of times, and different people give conflicting information about certain troubleshooting issues.” This sentiment is repeated multiple times by various users. Even Breadcrumb employees are taking note of the issue with a Product Support Specialist in Chicago writing, “upper management is so out of touch with what the merchants deal with problems take for ever to get solved.”
Breadcrumb Payments – Aside from complaints about customer service, the most negative reactions to Breadcrumb software concern Breadcrumb Payments (BPay), Breadcrumb’s own payment processing service. This platform requires you to provide a bank account into which Breadcrumb will deposit your revenue after taking a processing fee from each credit card transaction. However, Breadcrumb reserves the right to suspend your account or hold your revenue at any time. This is a security measure designed to protect against fraud, but it has been the cause of a major outcry from merchants. First off, Breadcrumb does not send any notifications when an account is suspended or revenue is withheld. Also, the process of validating larger transactions is arduous and requires the disclosure of personal documents and company details to Breadcrumb. One merchant even claims that Breadcrumb simply canceled his account without warning. When he asked why his account was canceled, he was told that they did not have to give him a reason. If you’d like to read more, please follow this link.
Of course, these reviews are isolated experiences and don’t exactly establish a pattern, but they should serve as a caution to potential clients nonetheless.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Though out-numbered by negative reviews, there are some positive sentiments floating around the Internet about Breadcrumb POS. The Breadcrumb site has some testimonials from different New York businesses:
“Breadcrumb easily beat out its competition because of its functionality, easiness to program, and most importantly the customer service that was apparent from the very beginning.” –Leif Huckman, Donna, Brooklyn
“My favorite part about Breadcrumb is the reliability and the number of features that are available to help run your business. I own a bar, coffee shop, and restaurant and it allows me to run multiple types of hospitality businesses off one system.” –Ben Sadler, The Queen’s Kickshaw, New York
“I love that I can log into Breadcrumb from anywhere. I can jump on the iPad from home and be in the system with staff in the restaurant. I think Breadcrumb is hands down the best POS system on the market today.” –Adam Elzer, Empellón Cocina, New York
Most of the positive reviews to be found are mainly concerned with how easy the software is to use. Some have mentioned “good customer service” and “low rates,” but the majority of people who rate Breadcrumb highly do so because of the simple and intuitive design and how easy it is to train staff to use it. One pattern I have noticed is that small business owners relate almost all of the positive experiences, while negative reviews predominantly come from large to mid-size businesses. Perhaps this means that a small-time coffee shop will have better luck with Breadcrumb than a larger dine-in restaurant.
Designed by former waitstaff and restaurant owners, Breadcrumb has several features that make it an up and coming success. With a highly customizable interface and intuitive design, creating a menu, arranging a floor plan, taking orders, and keeping staff informed has never been easier. Breadcrumb HQ and Breadcrumb Live make it easy to manage the back office, monitor sales, and view reports from any place with an Internet connection. Of course, though, like any POS software, there are some downsides to Breadcrumb.
The lack of an eCommerce platform means a potential for lost business without a way for clients to make online orders and purchases. For a Groupon-owned company, this surprises me, but also indicates that the feature may become available soon. Based on user complaints, limited inventory tracking, and the relatively light reporting functions, I’d also caution large business owners against this system. It seems to run well for smaller business, but may not yet be able to accommodate anything larger than a bakery or a coffee shop (though the testimonials on Breadcrumb’s site would beg to differ). Lastly, I would avoid Breadcrumb Payments all together. You have five other payment processing options that have been vetted and highly ranked by Merchant Maverick reviewers. It’s best to just avoid the risk.
Bottom line, if you’re opening a new restaurant, I’d advise you to roll the dice with customer service and allow a sales representative to walk you through a demo version of the software. If you like what you see, be sure to keep in mind the risks of using this system and remember to do your homework before making a decision. If you need help with the decision-making process, let us know and we’ll be more than happy to lend you our expertise.