Toast VS Square: Which POS Is Better For Your Restaurant?
|Pricing tiers||Free, $60/month, Enterprise package available||Free, $165/month, $272/month|
|Processing fees||2.6% plus $0.10 cents for basic transactions and 2.9% plus $0.30 for online transactions||N/A|
|Best For||Any sized restaurant looking for an all-in-one system that’s easy to use with minimal set-up||Restaurants of all sizes with online ordering needs and a large number of restaurant-specific features|
|Next Steps||Visit Site
If you’re opening a restaurant and have reached the exciting point in the process of selecting what point of sale system to use, the chances are pretty good that you’ve at least considered both Toast and Square. Both are terrific options for small businesses and particularly for small to mid-sized quick service and full-service establishments.
Toast has carved out a niche for itself in the restaurant industry with innovative hardware, deep feature set, and superb customer service and the company focuses on foodservice vendors specifically.
Meanwhile, Square is ubiquitous in the point of sale and processing world, extending its services to businesses of all types. But when Square decides to throw its hat into the ring with a product, the results rarely disappoint. While Square hasn’t specifically catered to restaurants as long as Toast has, its intuitiveness, simplicity, and impressive app store make it more than viable in a very competitive market.
So which one is right for you? Let’s dive a bit deeper and compare both companies and their product offerings and see who comes out on top.
Table of Contents
- Toast VS Square
- Comparing Features of Toast VS Square
- Square & Toast Pricing
- Ease Of Use
- Customer Service & Support
- Toast VS Square: Reviews, Complaints, & Common Problems
- The Key Differences Between Toast & Square
- Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Square Or Toast?
- Toast VS Square Comparison: The Final Verdict
Toast VS Square
Toast vs. Square is a close call when it comes to who has the best point-of-sale software for restaurants. Square’s all-in-one system is easy to use and simple to set up but Toast’s deep feature set and hardware offerings give it a slight edge.
Now we’ll get into a brief overview of what each point of sale system has to offer and how it can benefit your restaurant.
Toast POS Overview
Toast is an Android-based point of sale system that was built by individuals with experience in the restaurant industry specifically for restaurant owners. It’s an employee-friendly system with an excellent interface and an extremely rich feature set if you’re willing to pay for it. Toast has some major pluses, offering a generous free plan for smaller restaurants just starting out and larger plans that allow restaurants the opportunity to grow and scale into larger, multi-store ventures.
Toast can suit any sized foodservice business and has made major advancements in contactless payments and its online ordering capabilities. It also has excellent and relatively affordable hardware options for whatever type of establishment you’re running. In its early days, Toast was well known for its stellar customer service and, even as the company has expanded, it still offers 24/7 support that is highly rated.
Like many POS companies now, Toast is also in the payment processing game; if you want to use the Toast software, you’ll have to use the processor as well. Its rates have traditionally been competitive but are now quote-based, and you often have to sign up for a contract which has been a pain point for some customers. Still, Toast is one of the most advanced point of sale systems on the market for restaurants and provides a huge range of features.
- Easy to use
- Restaurant specific features
- Excellent online ordering
- Locked into processing contract
- Paid tiers are expensive
Square For Restaurants Overview
Square For Restaurants is an upgrade from Square’s free app, looking to serve full-scale restaurants while still keeping costs low and offering Square’s signature simplicity. Square for Restaurants comes with everything you need to run a restaurant, from table mapping to menu course creation, and it can be up and running within minutes of unboxing.
Like Toast, Square also has some excellent hardware options for tableside ordering and can be scaleable if you’re interested in purchasing upgrades like its loyalty package or gift cards. Square isn’t flashy, but it’s one of the most user-friendly systems around and also comes with access to the Square app store and 24/7 support which isn’t offered with the free app.
Square is probably best known as a payment processor, and if you use the POS, you must use the processor as well. Square’s rates are competitive, and there are no contracts. If you’re a high-volume seller, Square’s fees can get expensive, but for most standard restaurants, it’s an extremely viable option.
- Minimal set-up and training
- All-in-one system
- App store
- Occasional fund holds
- Feature set not as deep
Comparing Features of Toast VS Square
As you might expect, Toast and Square have a lot of similarities, both offering many of the same types of features for restaurants. But there are a few key differences where one outshines the other. In general, Toast has more in-depth features while Square sticks to the basics. Square for Restaurant’s inventory management is strong, but if you have complex needs, it might come up a bit short for you. The same goes for in-depth reporting.
Here are a few other places where these two POS systems differ.
Both Toast and Square provide their own payment processing, and you don’t have the option to go with anyone else. That isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re comfortable with the rates you’re given. Square for Restaurants has a flat fee of 2.6% plus $0.10 cents for basic transactions and 2.9% plus $0.30 for online transactions. Toast has gone to a quote-based system, but historically has been a slightly cheaper option for high-volume restaurants. The other key difference is that Toast will usually try and get you to sign up for a long-term contract with its processor while Square for Restaurants allows you to go month to month.
This has become the lifeblood for many restaurants these days and while both systems have plenty of options if you’re hoping to have thriving pick-up and delivery functionality, there are a few key differences. Square is partnered with Caviar and also integrates with Postmates, while Toast is aligned with a few more of the major delivery services like UberEats and GrubHub and has its own system that integrates directly with the software.
Toast has fully integrated purchase ordering and can send purchase orders to vendors while Square for Restaurants can create purchase orders but doesn’t auto-populate based on low or empty stock.
Toast has an excellent kiosk mode, allowing customers to order for themselves, walking them through modifiers and upsells while cutting down on potential errors while Square for Restaurants is lacking in this area.
Both Toast and Square for Restaurants have an offline mode which allows you to keep selling in the event of an internet outage by storing payment information to be processed when a connection is restored. However, Toast’s offline mode kicks in automatically while Square’s has to be activated through the system.
Square & Toast Pricing
When looking at cost of Square vs Toast, each offers a handful of different pricing plans, making them both scaleable if your business grows. There’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re trying to lock down exactly what you’ll be paying each month from processing fees to add-ons, so we’ll try to make this as simple as possible.
Free POS Plans With Toast & Square
Square is known for its free app which is widely used in both the retail and foodservice industries. Now, Toast has added its own free package, a nice option for smaller businesses. Both products are ideal for smaller operations like food carts or farmer’s market stands but are also more than capable of handling small cafes or bakeries.
Square’s free plan includes:
- Bulk importing allows you to download thousands of products quickly via a CSV file.
- Daily stock alerts let you know when products run low.
- Export stock levels instantly to a spreadsheet.
- Ability to transfer inventory across multiple stores.
- Support for partial quantities and weight scale
- Permissions for employees to access to certain functions.
- Analytics makes it easy to see which employees are your top sellers.
- Labor vs. Sales reports make it easy to evaluate labor costs.
- Free timecards for simple payroll and integrated time clock.
Not to be outdone, Toast’s free offering comes with:
- Order and table management
- Basic reporting and analytics
- Menu management
- Guest feedback
- Payment processing with fraud monitoring
- 24/7 customer support
- Installation and configuration
- Automatic updates
- Insights for guests
While Square offers a bit more when it comes to team and employee management, Toast’s inclusion of table and menu management is a big perk. Both also come with options to purchase additional add-ons for things like loyalty, gift cards, and online ordering so even though they’re not included in the free product, they are still supported by the software.
Paid POS Plans With Toast & Square
Of course, if you want to access Toast and Square’s broader range of features, you’re going to have to pay for it. The good news is that you get a lot of bang for your buck with both products and some really useful features for your restaurant. Square has its Square for Restaurants package which costs $60 a month for its Pro package, and it has a premier package that includes custom rates. The Pro package includes:
- Check splitting
- Table management
- Automatic gratuity
- Tableside ordering
- Delivery integration
- Advanced reporting
- Employee management with fraud protection
This is all pretty standard fare for full-service restaurant POS software but it also shouldn’t leave you wanting in many areas. You can also upgrade with some add-ons, like loyalty for $45 a month and physical gift cards. You can also get a basic website up and running for free through Wix or Weebly, and Square does have an open API. Square for Restaurants also has a flat processing rate of 2.6% plus $0.10 cents for basic transactions and 2.9% plus $0.30 for online transactions. Those rates are competitive but you could start feeling the pinch if you’re a high-volume seller.
Toast has steadily increased the cost of its paid packages in recent years in large part because it knows how good its feature set is. Toast has its Essentials Plan for $165 a month and it has a larger Growth plan for full-scale restaurants starting at $272 a month that is essentially all-inclusive. Unfortunately, Toast has switched to a quote-based system for processing fees, but from what I’ve gathered from sales reps and reviews, their rates are still at least competitive with Square’s and, for high-volume sellers, are probably slightly better.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Toast really doubled down on its online ordering services and contactless payment options and that’s the biggest bonus you get when upgrading from its free plan. The Essentials plan comes with everything the free plan offers, along with:
- Online ordering and delivery
- Curbside pickup
- Contactless delivery
- Dynamic throttling
- On-demand driver delivery fleet
- Saved payments and account information
- Automated push notifications
The Growth plan is obviously more expensive but it includes gift cards, loyalty, and marketing, all of which you would have to purchase as an add-on with the Essentials Plan. Still, since Toast does make you sign a contract, you’ll want to really know what features you plan on implementing before you decide what package to purchase.
As we touched on a little, both products scale well and you can purchase plenty of add-ons to flesh out your software. With Square for Restaurants, you can order:
- Physical Gift Cards: $40 for a pack of 20
- Custom Domain: $12 a month
- Product Reviews: $26 a month
- Square Payroll: Starts at $29 a month plus $5 per employee
- Square Marketing: Starts at $15 a month for up to 500 customer contracts
- Square Loyalty: Starts at $45 a month for up to 500 loyalty visits
Toast has similar prices for its add-ons with loyalty being an additional $25 a month and online ordering and gift cards each costing an additional $50 a month.
Ease Of Use
Both Toast and Square are well known and well regarded for the simplicity of their software, both in how functional it is on a daily basis for both employees and customers and also in how easy it is to set the product up.
Square for Restaurants can have you up and running in literally a matter of minutes and it thrives on simplicity. Its interface isn’t overly fancy (although you can control the brightness of the device depending on the ambiance you’re going for) but it’s a breeze to use. The same goes for its table layout. The color-coding system is easy and functional, requiring minimal training. It’s also highly customizable and things like check splitting can be done with simple clicks and drags.
Toast is similar in its simplicity and comes with generous help getting set up, although you likely won’t need much hand-holding. Toast also doesn’t go above and beyond trying to look excessively modern but, at least in my mind, that’s a good thing. Its table mapping and color-coding systems are simple and it has one of the best and deepest menu creation platforms in the industry. It also has a very handy end-of-day close-out function.
Customer Service & Support
Both companies have strong customer service and multiple avenues to reach someone for support. However, customer service has been Toast’s calling card for a while now. While there has been an uptick in negative comments related to customer service in recent years, much of that can probably be traced to Toast’s growing popularity. Toast offers 24/7 phone support and you can be talking to a real human being generally within moments. It also has great training material on its site and, as mentioned, it comes with helpful set-up when you’re first getting integrated with the system. The company can advise you on things like menu creation, and will work with you so that your preferences are already on the system once it arrives.
Square also offers 24/7 support, but only if you’re subscribed to one of its paid services like Square for Restaurants. If you’re using the free app, you have customer support phone access from 6 am to 6 pm Mondays through Fridays. There’s email support and an extensive troubleshooting page on its website as well. Once you’re in contact with Square, its representatives are well-informed and friendly. Square provides an online forum for users that can be extremely useful if you can navigate to the topic you’re looking for.
Toast VS Square: Reviews, Complaints, & Common Problems
As you would expect with two companies that are used by thousands of merchants across the country and the world, there is a wide range of reviews and complaints. However, both companies are generally highly rated when it comes to overall customer satisfaction.
There are a few common themes that pop up when users have had issues:
Square For Restaurants Complaints & Reviews
- Fund Holds: This is the most common complaint with Square in general. The company still has occasional issues with flagging a transaction as suspicious and holding up funds as a result. Since it can take some time to resolve, it can be frustrating when it occurs.
- Basic Feature Set: Square for Restaurants covers the basics in the restaurant industry well, but if you’re looking for extremely advanced reports or inventory, it’s not your best option. Some users complained about wanting features that Square simply doesn’t offer.
- Fees: As mentioned, Square’s processing fees can add up if you’re selling a high number of products. Multiple users have had a case of sticker shock when faced with how much Square’s fees ended up costing them.
Toast Complaints & Reviews
- Contract: While we love Toast, the fact that you’re locked into a contract with its processor is one of its biggest red flags. Combine that with Toast using a quote-based system for processing and it can be a bit anxiety-inducing. Multiple users reported feeling trapped and then tricked as there is also an unfortunate termination fee.
- Buggy Software: This is common with a lot of point-of-sale software but there has been an uptick in people complaining about the software glitching out or failing to connect at key moments.
- Customer Service: While strong customer service is Toast’s bellwether, multiple users have mentioned that the quality of service has declined in recent months.
Both Toast and Square are very generous with their integration offerings and the companies they partner with can really help you customize your software. While Square has an app store with access to hundreds of useful products, Toast has some great apps that are unique to the restaurant industry. Here are some highlights.
Square for Restaurants:
Square integrates with multiple accounting programs, including the big ones like Xero, QuickBooks, and TurboTax. For added inventory needs, you can choose Shopventory, SkuHarmony, Faire, and plenty of others.
Specifically for restaurants, Square also has a wide variety of options for delivery and ordering apps, including big names like Chowly, Slice, and Postmates. And more specifically for restaurants, Square partners with Fresh KDS, BentoBox, MarketMan, and plenty of others.
While Square probably has Toast beat in terms of overall integrations, Toast comes out on top when it comes to more unique and restaurant-specific apps. Toast has more delivery integrations, including GrubHub, UberEats, and dozens more. It also partners with Bevspot, KitchenSync, LevelUp, OpenTable, and more, and has great options for tableside ordering and contactless payments.
The Key Differences Between Toast & Square
I know we’ve hit you with a lot of information so far, so let’s simplify things a bit now. While Square and Toast are both solid options for your restaurant, they do have some key differences that may make one a considerably better option for your business. Here are a few of the areas where Toast and Square part ways.
1. Pricing: This is obviously a big one. While both offer generous free plans, the two systems start to differ when you get into their paid offerings. Square for Restaurants is cheaper on a month-to-month basis, as it doesn’t have the breadth of features that Toast’s paid plan offers. If you don’t need those advancements and you’re not a high-volume seller (where Square’s processing fees will start to hurt your budget), Square is probably slightly more affordable in the long run.
2. Contracts: This is a major difference between Square and Toast as Toast has started locking customers into processing contracts while Square allows you to go month-to-month. We’ve tended to give both companies a bit of a pass for locking customers into their in-house processing plans because the rates were generally affordable and there was minimal risk, but this has been an unfortunate change for Toast.
3. Kiosk Function & Customer Ordering: Toast has been particularly innovative during the Covid-19 pandemic. While it already featured an excellent kiosk mode, its options for customer ordering and contactless payments are stellar and may be copied by competitors in the coming months and give it a leg up over Square.
4. Installation & Training: Both systems are extremely user-friendly, but if you do find yourself needing some extra help getting with set-up or figuring out how to use some of the key functions within your POS system, Toast offers on-site installation and training. Square does not currently have this option.
5. Online Ordering: While Square has its partnership with Caviar and also integrates with Postmates, Toast has more options in terms of delivery integrations, teaming up with most of the best-known companies in the industry like UberEats and GrubHub.
6. Included Features: As we’ve mentioned, while Toast does have a higher sticker price, it also has more included both with its free plan and its paid plans. You may not need all of these features but Toast’s advanced inventory is superior and its table mapping and menu creation offered with its free plan are standouts.
Which Is Best For My Business Needs: Square Or Toast?
You’ve made it this far! So after all of that information, what restaurant point of sale system is best? Well, I hope you don’t think it’s a cop-out if the answer is still: it depends. But here’s a quick summary of what businesses might be best suited for Toast and which ones might be better of with Square for Restaurants.
Choose Toast POS if…
- Your larger, full-scale restaurant needs in-depth features
- Your business has extensive online ordering needs
- Your restaurant is looking to implement or expand contactless payment options
- You fully understand and are comfortable with Toast’s processing fees and contract requirements
- You want to take advantage of Toast’s sleek and innovative hardware options.
Choose Square For Restaurants if…
- Your restaurant would benefit from a simple, all-in-one POS system
- You don’t process a high volume of transactions
- You need a budget-friendly system with basic features
- Your restaurant could benefit from helpful add-ons like Square’s loyalty and Square Payroll
- You want a month-to-month contract
Toast VS Square Comparison: The Final Verdict
As you can see, there’s a lot to like about both of these products and choosing between them can be difficult. Hopefully, our expert analysis has actually made this an easy decision for you. In that case, you’re welcome! But if it wasn’t that simple, here’s a final recap. Toast and Square each make superior POS systems for restaurateurs. Toast was created by individuals in the restaurant business and has its finger on the pulse of the industry. It’s difficult to find a more feature-rich product for restaurants on the market right now and when you couple that with Toast’s excellent hardware and simple interface, it’s a product that many are willing to pay a premium for.
But the costs can add up quickly. Toast’s quote-based processing fees and long-term contracts are not changes that we particularly like to see. Meanwhile Square is a model of consistency in the point of sale industry and, while it hasn’t been in the full-scale restaurant business for as long as Toast has, it hit the ground running with a stellar product. Square for Restaurants is simple, has all of the basic features a restaurant would need, and gives you access to all of Square’s other products and its expansive app store.
If cost is a significant issue and you don’t feel like you need a true powerhouse feature set, Square for Restaurants is probably an excellent choice. However, if you have more intricate needs or plan on scaling up at some point, it’s really hard to go wrong with Toast.
Do neither of these POS providers seem like the right choice for you? Compare more of the best restaurant POS systems.