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Best Restaurant Inventory Management Software

Is your current food inventory system not making the grade? Try these top restaurant inventory management apps to save time and money.

    Kymberlin Bush
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Matt Sherman
  • REVIEWED BY

    Matt Sherman

    Lead Staff Writer

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

In order to have a successful restaurant (or any form of foodservice business) you’re going to need solid, dependable, and easy-to-use restaurant inventory management software.

The best POS systems for small businesses come with this software built-in or have easy direct integrations with some of the most popular apps for restaurant inventory management.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For
Toast POS

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  • Best for casual dining
  • $0+/month
  • 2.49% +$0.15 processing
  • Best for casual dining
  • $0+/month
  • 2.49% +$0.15 processing

Visit Site

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TouchBistro

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  • Best for payment processing options
  • $69+/month
  • Cost-plus processing
  • Best for payment processing options
  • $69+/month
  • Cost-plus processing

Visit Site

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Lightspeed Restaurant POS Review

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  • Best for inventory software integrations
  • $69+/month
  • 2.6% + $0.10 processing
  • Best for inventory software integrations
  • $69+/month
  • 2.6% + $0.10 processing

Visit Site

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Square For Restaurants

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  • Best for tight budgets
  • $0+/month
  • 2.6% + $0.10 processing
  • Best for tight budgets
  • $0+/month
  • 2.6% + $0.10 processing

Visit Site

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Shopventory

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  • Best for advanced restaurant inventory management
  • $79+/month
  • Integrates with Square, Clover, Shopify POS for payments
  • Best for advanced restaurant inventory management
  • $79+/month
  • Integrates with Square, Clover, Shopify POS for payments

Visit Site

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Table of Contents

What Is Restaurant Inventory Management Software?

Restaurant inventory management software helps restaurants automate inventory tasks, such as performing inventory counts, updating food inventories as menu items are sold, and reordering ingredients when supplies are low. Your restaurant POS system may include inventory features, or you might use a dedicated inventory app that integrates with your POS.

The 5 Best Restaurant Inventory Management Software Systems

Restaurant inventory management software should include features like ingredient tracking, vendor management, low-stock notifications, recipe costing, and more. A good restaurant inventory management system saves time and money by preventing food waste.

Here are our top picks:

How The Best Apps For Restaurant Inventory Compare

Multilocation Support Reporting Employee Management Menu Management
Toast POS
TouchBistro
Lightspeed Restaurant Essential plan & up
Square For Restaurants
Shopventory Third-party app Third-party app

Toast: Best For (Most) Restaurants

Total Rating 4.0
Pricing2.6

Ease Of Use4.7

Features5.0

Customer Service5.0

User Reviews4.1

Pricing

$0-$165 plus custom plan

Online Ordering

Yes

Equipment Cost

$0+

Pros

  • Excellent built-in inventory management
  • Free plan
  • Custom-built restaurant POS hardware
  • Strong online ordering and takeout features

Cons

  • 2+ year contract required
  • Can get expensive, depending on feature selection and hardware options

Why We Chose Toast As The Best Option For (Most) Restaurants

Toast is a popular Android POS system built specifically for restaurants that offers inventory management features like automatic syncing, menu engineering, and advanced reporting.

The price could be too high and the features too advanced for smaller scale restaurants like food trucks or cafes, so Toast might not be the perfect option for every restaurant.

Toast Pricing

Toast POS Plans Price  When To Use
Quick Start Bundle $0/month You have a small, single-location restaurant with basic feature needs
Core $69/month You need a full point of sale suite with processing and custom hardware
Growth $165/month You need advanced features and are looking to bundle with digital ordering
Custom Custom Larger businesses looking to access the entirety of Toast’s features

Toast packages start at $0/month for one terminal and core features, but can rise north of $300/month depending on how many features, terminals, or hardware add-ons you want. (Note that the free plan has a higher payment processing fee.)

Toast Inventory Management Features

Toast POS Features Availability
Multi-Store Support
Contactless Payments
Multi-Channel Selling
Gift Cards
Customer Loyalty
Marketing Tools
Online Ordering
Inventory Management
Reporting
Menu Management
Delivery Management
EBT Acceptance
Employee Management
Text Messaging

Some Toast POS features that help restaurants manage their inventory include:

  • Automatically syncs & updates your inventory as items are sold
  • Advanced reporting, including inventory value reports, COGS & variance reports, waste tracking reports
  • Menu engineering feature to improve profitability of inventory
  • Shelf layout feature that maps inventory count based on kitchen setup
  • Inventory software integrations for BevSpot, BrewLogix, Craftable, Marketman, & more

Toast Hardware Costs

Toast offers various custom-built restaurant-grade POS devices built with an Android OS. A standard Toast Flex countertop kit that includes a terminal, payment reader, and router, is $875. You can also purchase a kit that includes a handheld point of sale terminal for $627 (includes Toast Go 2, wireless access point, and router).

Another option is to pay $0 for your hardware upfront and pay Toast a higher payment processing fee.

Toast Payment Processing

Toast’s standard payment processing fee is 2.49% +$0.15 for in-person payments. Online payments are charged at a rate of 3.5% + $0.15

As mentioned, you can get free Toast software and hardware if you pay a higher payment processing fee (2.99% + $0.15). However, for most restaurants, it will make more sense to pay for your hardware and software outright.

What To Watch Out For

Toast requires that you use Toast Payments for credit card processing. The standard Toast contract is two years.

Toast Is Best For Restaurant Owners That:

  • Want built-in inventory management with no added fees
  • Need custom-built restaurant-grade POS hardware
  • Don’t need too many extra features or mind a long-term contract

Get Started With Toast POS

Read our in-depth review

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TouchBistro: Best For Payment Processing Options

Total Rating 4.3
Pricing4.0

Ease Of Use4.6

Features4.9

Customer Service3.9

User Reviews4.1

Pricing

$69/month

Online Ordering

Add-on

Equipment Cost

Call for quote

Pros

  • Competitive monthly cost
  • Numerous software integrations
  • Cost-plus processing available
  • Option to use outside payment processors

Cons

  • Basic built-in inventory functionality
  • 1+ year contract required

Why TouchBistro Is The Best Choice For Payment Processing Options

TouchBistro is one of the most popular (and affordable) iPad POS systems for restaurants.

While TouchBistro lands on the more basic side in many respects, it does have the ability to integrate with outside payment processors and third-party inventory software.

TouchBistro Pricing

TouchBistro Plans Price  When To Use
TouchBistro Plan $69+/month If you have basic restaurant needs and are interested in purchasing add-ons

TouchBistro’s $69/month starter package includes basic inventory management and free integration with third-party inventory software apps. You can also purchase various add-ons, such as online ordering ($50/month) and reservation management ($229/month).

TouchBistro Inventory Management Features

TouchBistro Features Availability
Multi-Store Support
Contactless Payments
Multi-Channel Selling
Gift Cards Add-on
Customer Loyalty Add-on
Marketing Tools Add-on
Online Ordering Add-on
Inventory Management
Reporting
Menu Management
Delivery Management
EBT Acceptance
Employee Management
Text Messaging

Some TouchBistro features specific to restaurant inventory management include:

  • Manual ingredient entry with unit of measure, wholesale cost, retail price, and associated recipe(s)
  • System automatically tracks ingredients as menu items are sold
  • Provides staff with in-service low-stock alerts
  • Basic inventory reports
  • Includes software integrations for Bevcheck, MarketMan, Craftable, Wisk, FreePour, Optimum Control, & MarginEdge

TouchBistro Hardware Costs

TouchBistro uses iPad POS hardware. You will have to call TouchBistro for a hardware quote.

TouchBistro Payment Processing

TouchBistro is flexible in terms of what payment processor you can use. Some processing options include Square, TSYS, and Worldpay, as well as TouchBistro’s in-house processor, TouchBistro Payments powered by Chase. TouchBistro Payments offers cost-plus pricing (also known as interchange-plus), which is one of the more affordable and transparent payment processing models.

What To Watch Out For

TouchBistro does require a contract (usually one year). Your term length will be included in your contract.

TouchBistro Is Best For Restaurant Owners That:

  • Want the option to choose their payment processor
  • Need an affordable POS system with built-in inventory management features
  • Are interested in cost-plus processing

Get Started With TouchBistro

Read our in-depth review

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Lightspeed Restaurant: Best For Inventory Integrations

Lightspeed Restaurant POS Review

Total Rating 4.0
Pricing3.1

Ease Of Use3.8

Features5.0

Customer Service4.3

User Reviews4.7

Pricing

$69-$399+/month

Online Ordering

Essential plan and up

Equipment Cost

$129-$519

Pros

  • Large amount of inventory integrations available
  • Free BevSpot account for inventory management
  • Integrated online ordering

Cons

  • Not as affordable as some systems
  • Standard contracts are 14-months

Why We Chose Lightspeed Restaurant As The Best Option For Inventory Management Integrations

Lightspeed Restaurant is a fast, affordable restaurant inventory management system and iPad POS with digital ordering.

Though Lightspeed does have some built-in inventory management features, Lightspeed Restaurant really shines when it comes to its third-party restaurant inventory software integrations.

Lightspeed Restaurant Pricing

Lightspeed Restaurant POS Review Plans Price  When To Use
Starter $69/month Single-location restaurants looking to start a loyalty program
Essential $189/month Restaurants with one or more locations looking for online ordering capabilities
Premium $399/month Larger restaurants & hotels looking for custom payment processing rates

Lightspeed Restaurant plans range from $69/month to $399/month. To get advanced inventory management included in your software plan, you’ll need to be on at least the $189/month “Essential” plan. Advanced inventory management is also available as an add-on.

Lightspeed Restaurant Inventory Management Features

Lightspeed Restaurant POS Review Features Availability
Multi-Store Support Essential plan and up
Contactless Payments Essential plan and up
Multi-Channel Selling Online and third-party delivery platform orders
Gift Cards
Customer Loyalty
Marketing Tools
Online Ordering Essential plan and up
Inventory Management
Reporting
Menu Management
Delivery Management Paid add-on
EBT Acceptance
Employee Management
Text Messaging

Lightspeed Restaurant offers the following restaurant inventory management features:

  • Built-in ingredient management with low stock alerts, stock reports, & recipe costing & margins tool
  • Real-time inventory deductions & replenishments
  • Automatic reordering from suppliers
  • Comes with a free version of BevSpot, allowing restaurants to track variance and product loss by item
  • Integrates with inventory software including Craftable, Growzer, MarketMan, ORCA, RapidBar, Restaurant365, RESTOCK, BeerSAVER, Whistle, WISK, & other food inventory apps

Lightspeed Restaurant Hardware Costs

Lightspeed Restaurant POS hardware is iPad-based. You have the option to source your own components or buy a hardware kit from Lightspeed. For that, you will need to contact Lightspeed for a quote.

Lightspeed Restaurant Payment Processing

Lightspeed integrates with several payment processors and has its own Lightspeed Payments, which offers flat-rate processing at 2.6% + $0.10 or (for users on the highest-level plan) a custom payment processing fee.

What To Watch Out For

Lightspeed Restaurant contracts have a standard term of 14 months, but your quote may differ. Your term length will be outlined in your contract.

Lightspeed Restaurant Is Best For Restaurant Owners That:

  • Want the option of built-in or third-party inventory features
  • Need integrated online ordering at no extra cost
  • Don’t mind a built-in payment processor, higher payments, and long-term contracts

Get Started With Lightspeed Restaurant POS Review

Read our in-depth review

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Square For Restaurants: Best For Tight Budgets

Square For Restaurants

Total Rating 4.8
Pricing4.8

Ease Of Use4.9

Features4.9

Customer Service4.6

User Reviews4.5

Pricing

$0-$60/month/location + custom option

Online Ordering

Yes

Equipment Cost

$0-$799

Get a free card swiper from Square at no cost when you create a free account. Claim your card reader.

Pros

  • Free and affordable plans available
  • Numerous integration options
  • Affordable hardware options
  • No contract

Cons

  • Not an advanced inventory management system (without integrations)
  • Can’t use with an outside payment processor

Why Square Is The Best Budget-Friendly Choice

Square POS is a great basic, free POS for quick-service and mobile food businesses.

Square for Restaurants includes restaurant inventory management and a kitchen display system. Square for Restaurants, available on iPad and Square Register, even has a free plan.

Square For Restaurants Pricing

Square For Restaurants Plans Price  When To Use
Free $0/month Use if you need the basics in restaurant POS software plus simple processing
Plus $60/month/location Use if you need advanced inventory and 24/7 customer service
Premium Custom Use if you process more than $250,000 a year

Besides the free plan, Square For Restaurants also has a $60/month “Plus” plan with a full suite of features. You also have the option to use the free Square For Restaurants plan with a $20/month Square KDS subscription. If you use a mobile POS kit for tableside ordering, you’ll be billed another $50/month.

Yet another option for restaurants who want to use Square is to use the free version of regular Square (Square Point of Sale) with a third-party restaurant inventory management system, such as BevSpot (which also offers a freemium account to Square users) or Shopventory. As mentioned, Square also integrates with TouchBistro.

Square For Restaurants Inventory Management Features

Square For Restaurants Features Availability
Multi-Store Support
Contactless Payments
Multi-Channel Selling
Gift Cards
Customer Loyalty Add-on
Marketing Tools Add-on
Online Ordering
Inventory Management
Reporting
Menu Management
Delivery Management
EBT Acceptance
Employee Management
Text Messaging

The free version of Square for Restaurants has very basic inventory capabilities, but they can be enhanced with inventory integrations, including MarketMan, Peachworks, and Yellow Dog Inventory.

If you opt for Square for Restaurants Plus, you’ll get more advanced inventory features, such as auto-86ing and menu reports. 

Square For Restaurants Hardware Costs

Square For Restaurants works best with a Square Stand for iPad ($149 without iPad) or Square Register ($799) setup.

You can also use a Square Terminal ($299) or Restaurant Mobile POS Kit ($259) for tableside payments and an Android Microtouch tablet ($599 to $699) for KDS purposes.

Square For Restaurants Payment Processing

Whether you use Square POS, Square for Restaurants Free, or Square for Restaurants Plus, you’ll get Square’s same flat processing rate of 2.6% + $0.10. None of Square’s POS systems integrate with outside payment processors, however.

What To Watch Out For

Square For Restaurants has no contract, which means you can use it on a month-to-month basis and quit at any time.

Square For Restaurants Is Best For Restaurant Owners That:

  • Are just starting their business or need to keep a tight budget
  • Want a month-to-month contract with no long-term commitments
  • Don’t need advanced built-in inventory management features

Get Started With Square For Restaurants

Read our in-depth review

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Thrive By Shopventory: Best For Advanced Inventory Management

Shopventory


Visit Site


Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Advanced food inventory management
  • Integrates seamlessly with Square, Clover, Shopify, & Quickbooks Online

Cons

  • Only integrates with a few POS systems

Why We Chose Thrive By Shopventory For Best Advanced Inventory Management Features

Thrive by Shopventory (formerly Shopventory) is an advanced restaurant inventory management app that works in both retail and restaurant environments.

It's the only food inventory app on this list that's not a POS -- but that's OK because it is designed to integrate seamlessly with your POS like Square, Clover, and Shopify POS.

Thrive By Shopventory Pricing

Thrive by Shopventory’s Standard plan is reasonably priced at $79/month for up to two locations. If you have more locations or need a few more advanced features (such as daily QuickBooks syncing), you may be better served by the $199/month Professional plan. Especially when you consider that Shopventory can turn a free POS like Square into a food inventory management powerhouse, Shopventory provides a whole lot of bang for your buck.

Thrive By Shopventory Inventory Management Features

Shopventory has an extensive list of inventory features. Some of its notable functions include:

  • PO and vendor management
  • Modifier inventory tracking
  • Mobile barcode scanning
  • Expiration date notifications
  • Par-level email alerts
  • Lot COGS management

Thrive By Shopventory Hardware Costs

Thrive by Shopventory recommends using an Asus Convertible Touchscreen Notebook ($395) or iPad Pro ($970) with a SocketScan scanner and DYMO label printer. You can visit Thrive By Shopventory’s website to see the exact hardware recommendations.

Thrive By Shopventory Payment Processing

Thrive by Shopventory does not include payment processing. As mentioned, Thrive by Shopventory will sync with the POS system you use for payment processing (so long as you use Square, Clover, or Shopify POS).

What To Watch Out For

Thrive by Shopventory is a month-to-month service with no contract.

Thrive By Shopventory Is Best For Restaurant Owners That:

  • Need a reasonably-priced advanced food inventory management software
  • Already use (or are ok with using) Square, Clover, or Shopify POS to accept payments
  • Want to keep their POS and inventory management systems separate

Get Started With Shopventory

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Methodology

Merchant Maverick has been researching and reviewing POS providers since 2012. Our writers have tested over 100 different point of sale systems, evaluating pricing, features, ease of use, customer service, and user reviewers. Read more about how we rate POS providers.

When comparing different POS software systems, we consider many data points, including relative pricing, the depth of niche features offered, the price of hardware, and any associated payment processing fees. Our lists of the best providers include only apps we’ve deemed worthwhile from multiple vantage points. The POS vendors we pick share qualities such as widespread availability, accessibility, user-friendliness, and reasonable pricing. We also look carefully at niche features, such as check-splitting, inventory management, eCommerce, loyalty programs, gift cards, and more.

We spend an average of 10-15 hours researching and updating each one of our lists, making sure the providers included meet our internal standards for quality and reputation.

80+

Vendors evaluated

65+

Attributes assessed per vendor

20+

Features weighed

30+

Combined years of experience


How To Make The Most Out Of Your Restaurant Inventory App

While software can automate a lot of the inventory process, there are certain actions you must take to make your software really work for you.

1. Take Your Setup Seriously

Your inventory system’s initial setup can be tedious, but it’s important you do it properly to ensure your system works correctly and delivers the correct data. Make sure to be exact and consistent when entering your quantities, units of measure, etc. If the system lets you sync your food suppliers, you can automatically import your invoices after the initial sync. Once you’re all set up, many of your inventory tasks will start managing themselves. Of course, you’ll need to train your staff on the system as well.

2. Check Your Reports Regularly

Your POS data contains valuable inventory information, especially when coupled with inventory management software. Make sure you familiarize yourself with all of your inventory reports so that you can use the data to your advantage. If you check your reports regularly, you will gain a better understanding of your overall inventory situation as well as notice any significant changes or discrepancies.

3. Find Your COGS

When it comes to improving your restaurant’s inventory management, finding your COGS, or Cost of Goods, is an important first step. After setting up your inventory software and letting it do its magic, you may start to notice that your true COGS for a certain item is actually different from what you thought it was. Once you know your real COGS, you can consider ways to lower them, such as finding a different supplier for a certain ingredient.

4. Identify Problem Areas

Your software will start to show you patterns that point to problem areas in your inventory system. For example, you may be able to identify your top sources, or spillage or spoilage, or even which employees waste the most food (provided that your software also includes employee management). You can then use this information to make necessary changes in your inventory processes. In particular, variance reports can show discrepancies in your inventory due to waste, theft, or user error.

5. Rethink Your Menu

Most food inventory software products have a feature that helps you re-engineer your menu to make it more profitable. For example, the software can help you identify slow-moving menu items that cause ingredients to go bad before you get a chance to use them. Even if the program doesn’t have a specific feature that makes menu suggestions, standard inventory data collected by your software (for example, COGS) can still help guide your menu decisions.

How Do I Choose The Best App For Restaurant Inventory?

The best restaurant inventory software depends on whether you want inventory software that integrates with the POS system you use or if you’d rather switch to a POS with built-in inventory features.

If you’re not too familiar with restaurant inventory management and want to increase your general knowledge on the subject, read up on restaurant inventory management methods and terminology before you make your final decision.

Make sure you consider pricing, ease-of-use, and contract terms alongside the features you need when you’re making a decision!

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Kymberlin Bush

Kymberlin Bush

Staff Writer
Kymberlin started contributing to Merchant Maverick as a freelancer in 2022 and joined the team as the full-time small business health insurance expert in 2023. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Pacific University in 2020 and continues to reside in Portland, Oregon.
Kymberlin Bush
View Kymberlin Bush's professional experience on LinkedIn.