Aloha POS Review
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- Date Established
- Atlanta, GA
- Strong inventory management
- Customization options
- Vague pricing information
- Poor customer service reputation
- Lacks integrations
In Hawaiian, aloha means hello and goodbye. In the POS industry, it means a company with a feature-rich product that is tailor-made for high-volume restaurants. If I was the director of Aloha’s HR department, this is exactly how I would start all of my grainy training videos. In reality, Aloha is a massive POS company that is used in more than 75,000 restaurants around the world and was recently purchased by another massive company (NCR). Aloha has several things going for it. Namely, it has a ton of experience in the restaurant industry, and that shows in the number of features it offers in its product.
Aloha has an excellent ordering system and a very functional interface that anyone with experience in the restaurant industry will find to be intuitive. It’s a one-stop-shop product with strong inventory management and employee management, along with loyalty and ecommerce options. It’s also tried to modernize from just being an on-premise legacy system with an app that allows managers to monitor their restaurant remotely. A recent partnership with Poynt now allows for tableside ordering.
Now for the downside. Aloha’s pricing is very difficult to pin down, even when you’ve given them some specifics about your business. And when you do end up with even the broadest of quotes, it’s an expensive system. Aloha seems like it caters to larger chain restaurants that can afford to pay (or overpay) a premium for a good, dependable system that should satisfy a restaurant’s needs. But there are plenty of other systems out there that provide comparable services for less money. And when you factor in Aloha’s mediocre customer service, the shine wears off even more.
Table of Contents
Aloha’s pricing is tricky, to say the least. The company goes out of its way to keep straight answers off of its website and, in fact, off the internet entirely. Go ahead and google it and try to get a sense of what you can expect to pay. It’s an exercise in frustration. Needless to say, that level of vagueness is less than ideal. Technically the company operates on a quote-based system in that you’ll need to call and speak with a representative, talking them through your specific needs to get a quote. In the roughest of terms, hardware can set you back around $1,000 on top of software fees, customization fees, and standard card processing fees. The long and short of it is that Aloha isn’t cheap by any definition.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Aloha is a hybrid system in that it has equipment that is locally-installed but also features a cloud-based app which allows you to access data remotely. For a fee, you can also set up Aloha Restore, which backs up your data and stores it in a third-party source.
Aloha claims to be a viable solution for anyone in the foodservice industry, including bars and cafes. In practice, Aloha is better suited for full-service restaurants with a robust feature package to serve those clients. It’s probably going to be too pricey for small, quick-service restaurants. Aloha also comes equipped with functionality those smaller restaurants won’t need.
Specific Size Of Business
Mid-sized and large-scale restaurants should be well covered by Aloha. The POS has advanced inventory management and reporting and comes with solid table mapping, plus plenty of options for a restaurant with a large number of servers and plenty of turnover throughout the course of a business day.
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
Aloha’s desktop system runs on Windows and Android and requires at least Windows 10 or more recent. Its mobile app is available on iOS and Android devices. In terms of hardware available, Aloha features three NCR desktop terminals in various sizes. There are 10″, 12″, and 15″ options for screen size. They also offer handheld devices from Orderman designed for tableside ordering. NCR also features a 7779 tablet that you can purchase from its website. And, of course, you can also run the app from your iPad.
Ease Of Use
Aloha is certainly not a plug and play system that you can have up and ready minutes after pulling it out of the box. It takes some time to set up and configure. There are some basic walk-throughs online, but, compared to other POS systems, the installation can be a bit of a hassle. That being said, once you’re ready to go, Aloha’s interface is very well designed. If you’re at all familiar with Windows, Aloha will be like second nature to you. It’s not flashy or particularly modern, but the button layouts are easy to read and customizable to your liking.
Table mapping is efficient and straightforward, letting you lay out the basic design of your restaurant. There is an easy-to-read color-coding system to help servers assess where their tables are at in their meals. You can click on a table to quickly make changes to existing orders and separate checks in an instant. The modifier system is simple, allowing you to set up items with forced modifiers to walk servers through a variety of choices. There is also a button for specialty modifiers if a customer has a unique request.
As you would expect, Aloha accepts all forms of payments, and closing out tabs is a quick and painless process. Moving to the back end, Aloha has strong inventory management. If you’re at all familiar with a Windows layout, it should be pretty easy to figure it out. Not everything is neatly laid out in front of you and can involve clicking through multiple links to get to the report or item count that you’re looking for. In some ways, that’s a benefit in that it doesn’t clutter up your screen and makes the information easier to digest. While the back office looks simple, there’s a lot to tinker with. Purchase orders are particularly simple, and real-time inventory tracking is always a nice feature.
Aloha is extremely feature-rich as you might expect from a system that’s at the higher end in terms of cost. You’re likely to find all of the usual bells and whistles that you would expect from a strong POS system. I’ll try and highlight a few things that I feel Aloha does particularly well.
- Ordering: Aloha is built specifically with the busy restaurant owner in mind. It handles the order process quite well with nice features that can help you through the following tasks.
- Check Splitting: The system walks you through this process quickly, allowing you to assign orders to seats and easily divvy up items. It also allows you to split checks for groups that are all paying with separate cards.
- Tipping: Aloha has a unique Table Service setting that makes pooling tips and splitting them a simple process for employees.
- Modifiers: The system intuitively walks servers through forced modifiers and displays optional modifiers as well, allowing for easy opportunities to upsell. It’s also a simple process for servers to click on orders and make custom changes.
- Inventory Management:
- Purchase Orders: Aloha comes with the ability to create and track your purchase orders, and you can easily keep track of them in the back end. It can also recommend purchase orders based on your trends.
- Real-Time Ingredient Tracking: Keep tabs on your ingredient levels during busy times at your restaurant, so servers will know if an item becomes unavailable.
- Store-By-Store Comparisons: Easily discern what items are selling well or not at all at a particular location. You can also easily set up transfers of inventory between locations.
- Future Sales Tracking: One of the unique inventory features Aloha offers is a system that predicts future sales amounts and guest tracking, running those reports at 15-minute intervals.
- Reporting: Aloha’s sheer number of reports aren’t overly impressive, especially when compared with how much it offers with some of its other features. However, the reporting package is designed to be easy to find and interpret and, in this facet, Aloha succeeds. It’s easy to get bogged down in a bevy of complicated reports. Aloha has a little more than a dozen that come standard, and they include the basics from void reports to sales and labor. If you’re not overly concerned with advanced analytics, this should be fine. If you’re looking to drill deep into sales numbers, you may find the offering lacking.
- Customer Management:
- Loyalty: Aloha has an add-on loyalty program that is customizable, allowing you to choose the metrics by which customers can gain rewards. It also tracks spending information, so you can reward your top spenders and easily set up efficient marketing campaigns.
- Feedback: Aloha also has a unique analytics device that tracks how customers are leaving feedback about your business. Owners can track what platforms their customers are using and what information is being sent out into the ether of the internet.
Compatible Credit Card Processors
Aloha has a built-in credit card processing system in NCR Merchant Solutions. They accept all forms of payment and integrate with all major credit cards. It also includes hardware, software support, and services. They also integrate with Tablesafe and Poynt as EMV payment devices. In an interesting gimmick, NCR also says it will pay a customer $500 if they can’t save them money with their current processing company. (Here at MM, we have seen time and again that this gimmick is precisely that — a gimmick. You will almost certainly never qualify for the promised sum and even if you do, the hoops you have to jump through likely won’t be worth it.)
Integrations & Add-Ons
Aloha counts on its built-in features to have you covered, so it’s a little skimpy in terms of the number of companies it integrates with, but it covers the basics. It integrates with QuickBooks (read our review) and Xero (read our review) for accounting. It also integrates with Paychex (read our review) for payroll, LevelUp for mobile ordering, and NCR’s ecommerce platform. Aloha does feature an open API for developers.
Customer Service & Support
Aloha has a Help Desk that is available to contact 16 hours a day from 8 AM to midnight Central Time for technical issues. They also offer on-site and on-call services during the same hours if they can’t diagnose a problem over the phone or email. Aloha has a fairly high volume of complaints about its customer service. It’s apropos to mention that I also struggled tremendously with more than one representative when trying to track down answers to basic questions or even set up a simple demo. Aloha also has some scattered demos online which are moderately helpful.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
- Customer Service: A handful of customers were disappointed that they were bounced around during customer service calls and then ultimately not getting all of the answers they needed. Others complained that the onboarding process was difficult and time-consuming.
- Fees For Features: Multiple users were disappointed that features such as loyalty and gift cards weren’t included in the software, bringing up the price.
- Functionality: A handful of customers were overwhelmed by Aloha’s feature set. Some needed to watch an instructional video to talk them through how to use some of the features, and others could never figure out how to use certain elements.
- System Crashes: More users than I would expect talked about the system crashing at inopportune times, causing customers to lose data.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
- Ease Of Use: A large number of customers found Aloha to be simple to use and particularly easy to train employees on. Customers with previous experience using POS system seemed to like Aloha’s design.
- Robust Features: If you need it, Aloha offers it. At least in some capacity. Many users appreciated that Aloha offered everything they needed from robust reports to inventory management. They claimed that the feature offerings were more robust than other POS systems they had tried.
- Customization Options: For experienced users, they appreciated that they could make the system their own and add details to make their business run efficiently.
Aloha clearly knows the restaurant business and its product is catered specifically to a restaurant owner’s needs. There’s a reason why so many businesses use them after all. Aloha’s feature set is very impressive. If you’re at a point where you just want a robust system and cost isn’t of consequence, you may want to give it a look. But other systems have rapidly caught up to what Aloha has to offer for a significantly lower price. Aloha does have some nice modern adaptations with tableside ordering and the ability to access and control your restaurant remotely.
It’s a fine system, and stalwart restaurant owners seem to have a good deal of success with it. However, Aloha falters in a couple of areas that are sticking points for me. The lack of upfront pricing, coupled with user complaints about unexpected costs, is a significant concern, especially for small businesses just getting started without a ton of financial leeway. And the myriad complaints about shoddy customer service are never a good sign. But if you like what you see after doing your research, feel free to set up a demo with the company and see if they might be a good fit.
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