Top 5 POS Tablet Systems For Restaurants
The restaurant industry is a hectic environment with a ton of moving parts. From taking orders to printing tickets to splitting checks, every function needs to work seamlessly if you’re to maximize your sales potential — and stay alive. Studies show that nearly 60% of restaurants close after three years, so choosing the right point of sale system can be a crucial component to the ultimate survival of your small business.
Happily, if you’re opening up a restaurant right now, you’re in luck. Your point of sale system can be so much more than just a cash drawer or a way to accept credit card payments. POS hardware and software has never been more helpful or powerful, especially in terms of CRM, inventory management, and reporting. Chances are, if you’ve done your research, you’re looking into at least a few systems that are Android, iPad or tablet-based. Tablet POS systems can be a server or manager’s best friend. Compared to traditional POS terminals, the mobility of these devices boosts the efficiency of your waitstaff and can improve interactions with customers; managers, in turn, can keep tabs on reports and sales on the go, from any device with a wireless connection.
|Lightspeed Restaurant||ShopKeep||Square for Restaurants||Toast||Clover POS|
Square For Restaurants
Cloud-based or Locally Installed
Compatible credit card processors
Cayan or Mercury in US; iZettle in Europe
First Data Network providers
Small to medium
Small to medium
Small to medium
Small to large
Small to medium
Read on for an in-depth look at some of our favorite restaurant-focused tablet POS systems. (Looking for a retail POS solution instead? We’ve got you covered.)
Almost any size foodservice establishment. There is an enterprise package for larger industries, but Lightspeed is probably better suited for mid-sized restaurants.
Lightspeed offers three plans at $69 a month, $129 a month and $198 a month.
Lightspeed Restaurant (read our review) offers some unique features that are difficult to find anywhere else. Coupled with a superior design, this POS software program has very few weaknesses to speak of and may be worth the slightly higher price compared to other similar systems.
Lightspeed thrives in both employee and inventory management. There is a feature which allows managers to change the visibility of employees on the app — quite useful for a business with multiple part-time employees. Permissions are assigned and broken down easily. The Timed Events features, which lets you set up unique promotions and contests for employees, is something I haven’t seen in many other products. You can also select your language of choice to print tickets.
One nice visual element is the ability to upload appetizing pictures of your menu items that can be displayed to customers. Most features, such as table layout and modifiers, are also highly customizable.
On the back end, Lightspeed Restaurant has a wealth of reports to help you analyze your business quickly and intuitively. The raw ingredient tracking mechanism also updates in real time, allowing servers to see when a product is running low. Things like discounts and tax codes can all be added or updated in a matter of seconds and, as an added bonus, Lightspeed’s customer service comes without additional cost and has many positive reviews. Lightspeed Restaurant is still lacking slightly in integrations but, at this point, we’re really picking nits.
Lightspeed Restaurant is designed specifically for the foodservice industry, and it shows. The company does nearly everything right and is particularly strong in both customer and inventory management, all at a reasonably competitive pricing structure that can fit whatever sized business you’re running.
Small to mid-sized retail businesses and smaller restaurant establishments.
$69 per month per first three registers.
There is little fault to find with ShopKeep’s (read our review) sleek and modern tablet POS system. This company has been on the cutting edge of POS technology for a few years now, adopting the iPad early on, and continues to improve and expand its services, making for a lightweight and mobile POS system. Though it was previously best suited for retail establishments and smaller food service establishments, ShopKeep now offers open check features and server-less syncing.
This POS software program has also recently added the ability to create your own modifiers and is working on an update for table layouts.
ShopKeep has always prided itself on being user-friendly, and its restaurant software is exceptionally simple to master, particularly with features like the ability to keep multiple tabs open and split bills in a quick and intuitive manner. Tickets can also be sent immediately from the table to the kitchen, saving precious time in a fast-paced environment.
If ShopKeep is lacking at all on the front end, it more than makes up for it with in-depth reporting, analyzing your restaurant’s busiest times to help you coordinated staffing. Employees can be assigned specific permissions and all reports and sales data can be viewed in real time on any device with the app installed.
Like most of the best POS systems, ShopKeep continues to improve. In particular, ShopKeep is becoming a better and better option for restaurants. Already boasting an excellent interface and strong reporting and employee management, the modifier and check functions of this POS make it worth a look for any new business owner. And ShopKeep is at the top of its field for user-friendliness, working well with most versions of the iPad, including the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini.
Anything from small food-service establishments (like cafes) to mid-sized, full-service restaurants.
Toast starts at $79 a month and is $50 a month for each additional register.
Here at Merchant Maverick we’re suckers for products that give you as few headaches as possible. Under that umbrella, Toast (read our review) continues to be one of our favorite Android-based point of sale systems. Toast has a simple and affordable pricing structure, a feature-rich and simple-to-use platform, and fantastic customer service that is included in the original price. Even one of the few issues we have with Toast — its inability to work with other credit card processing companies — at least leaves you with one less decision to make when you’re starting your business or shopping for a new POS. And if you’re trying to avoid Apple, you’re in luck; Toast only runs on Android tablets.
Toast is simple to use. You can be walked through its initial set-up so you’re an expert in a short amount of time. Normal restaurant functions like check splitting, voiding, and the ability to transfer tickets to different tables are intuitive and can be done with just a few taps. Toast has a solid menu creation feature and it’s simple to make quick pricing changes either manually or automatically for things like Happy Hour.
Toast’s reporting functions are robust and, as you would expect, can be accessed from anywhere with a wireless connection on a tablet or mobile device. In this way, it is a truly mobile POS system. You can see things like ticket times and tip reports all in an easily digestible format.
Many current systems are delving deep into customer management and Toast is no different. The POS can take and store customer information and track an individual’s order history while tabulating their loyalty rewards, helping you set up ways to entice them to come back. The employee and inventory management functions are also strong, helping a business owner cut down on inefficiency. For an additional cost, you can add on Toast’s loyalty program and its online ordering service, two impressive features.
Everything about Toast is easy, from its Android-compatibility to its pricing to its layout to its quick set-up. If you’re looking for a POS tablet system that isn’t iPad-based and won’t give you headaches, it’s tough to see you going wrong here. A strong menu-creation function and simple table management, coupled with some of the best customer service in the industry, make Toast a top contender.
Mid-sized to larger foodservice businesses, though it can be adapted to smaller restaurants as well.
Revel has a flexible pricing structure depending on what features you need. The cost of the software is built into the monthly subscription.
Revel (read our review) is another impressive system that packs a lot of features into intuitive yet unassuming software. Revel has the ability to handle larger scale restaurants better than some of the other systems mentioned in this post. It can take on multiple locations with ease and has an extremely robust offering of reports that can be managed remotely, along with a varied list of integrations and customizable software.
Revel has a simple interface, without a lot of distractions. It is created with the server in mind, making things like voids, order editing, and check splitting simple. For smaller establishments, Revel has a very nice kiosk function with a customer-facing display. The ability to take reservations and inform customers via a text message or email is also a nice feature.
Going along with current POS trends, Revel allows you to take orders tableside and, with its Kitchen Display System, servers can view the status of an order as it’s being made.
The backend takes a little more time to get the hang of. However, that’s mainly because there’s a lot to offer. Revel has a huge slate of reports that can be viewed and digested quickly. Its employee management feature is also superb, assigning individuals their own PIN number for log-in. Managers can then track performance by sales, productivity, or number of voids, and permissions can be assigned easily. There is a built-in loyalty system within Revel that stores basic customer information. One of the biggest draws for Revel is the sheer number of companies that it integrates with. If the POS doesn’t have a specific function you’re looking for, chances are you can download a program that can help. Revel’s open API also makes it possible to create your own customizable functions.
Revel is a powerhouse of a POS that can handle large-scale restaurant establishments. The system boasts excellent real-time reporting and an extensive employee management system. Though it comes with a slightly higher learning curve than some systems, Revel’s wealth of integrations gives it a big edge in a very competitive market, and it’s one of our favorite POS solutions here at Merchant Maverick.
Quick-service food establishments and small to mid-sized restaurants.
Clover’s pricing can range from $350 to $800 depending on the retailer and on whether you’re purchasing it alongside other Clover products.
Clover (read our review) has emerged as a giant in the POS game and for good reason. Although certainly not without its flaws (mostly on the payment processing end of things), Clover is exceptionally easy to use, comes with access to the Clover app market, and can be up and running within minutes out of the box, making it a popular product for small and mid-sized restaurants.
Clover arrives virtually ready to go from the second you turn it on with a preloaded menu. It’s also extremely customizable and will intuitively download a few starter apps for you based on your preferences. Clover has been a popular choice for business owners new to the restaurant game both because of its simplicity and how easy it is to tailor the POS to your specific needs. The product is EMV compliant and accepts virtually any payment type.
On the backend, Clover isn’t quite as robust as some other systems, but small to mid-sized restaurant owners are likely to find just about anything they might need.
The customer management feature stores information, making it easy to peruse an individual’s purchase history. One of Clover’s huge pluses is how easy it is to manage your business, even across multiple locations, from just one device. The POS stores all of its reports and you can see profits and employee activity in real time. Clover’s biggest draw, however, is its impressive app store. If you do find that you’re missing some functionality on the back end — if, for example, you want better loyalty programs, real-time reporting, or inventory management — it’s likely that you can find a program in the always-expanding App Market to help you out.
Clover is a tough system to beat in when it comes to sheer convenience, especially if you’re looking to avoid using iPads. With a very simple and intuitive interface that you can have up and running in minutes, it’s a strong option for new business owners. Simple and extensive customer management and access to Clover’s App Market are also extremely convenient features. Unfortunately, though the software itself is exceptional, you will have to put up with First Data’s less than stellar support on the credit card processing end of things, and depending on what kind of reseller you use to buy your Clover device, customer service is hard to navigate. Approach Clover with caution.
These are just a handful of the available point of sale systems for tablets, and each one has its unique strengths. While you certainly aren’t limited to a tablet-based restaurant POS, it’s easy to see why they have become so popular. Locally-installed systems have advantages when it comes to security, but it’s tough to compete with the convenience, ease of use and set-up, and sheer affordability these touch screen mobile devices provide. And that’s not even mentioning the powerful reporting and various back-end management tools that can all be accessed in a device smaller than most books on your shelf. Most of these systems sell POS hardware as well, so you should be able to find cash registers, barcode scanners and receipt printers that are compatible with your tablet point-of-sale software.
As always, do your research and make sure you don’t settle for a system that doesn’t completely suit your needs. For more information in general, check out our selection of full restaurant point of sale reviews, read about iPad POS vendors and Android POS vendors, or view our comparison chart of restaurant POS software. Or, if you’d like to learn more about mobile systems like Square POS, we have a selection of mobile payment processing reviews as well. If you need a retail POS solution instead, we’ve reviewed all the top systems.
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