POS Quote Team
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- Risks in POS Systems: The Importance of a Security Assessment - January 9, 2020
- Top 10 Benefits of Using a POS System In Your Restaurant - February 12, 2019
Cafes and coffee shops are more than places to quickly get a cup on the run. As bustling sit-down establishments, cafés vie for customers as restaurants do. To increase your chances of survival in this highly competitive market, you need to figure out which is the best POS system for your establishment.
POS systems for food establishments help manage all of the front and back-of-house operations such as customer ordering, inventory control, and payment processing.
The right POS for your café allows you to control operations from anywhere. Instant access to critical business data helps you not only to avoid waste, but to seize opportunities such as with loyalty programs and menu customization.
Here is our list of the five best café POS systems that will help you retain customers, automate operations, and take advantage of business analytics.
Staff training and performance management
Ease of use with customizable interface
Integration with other merchant services
Excellent customer support
We recommend Toast as the best overall café POS, whether for a small café or a chain. It includes all of the key features of a café POS system.
Out of the box, you get tableside ordering and payment; managing inventory, employees, and cash drawer; analytic reports; and self-service ordering.
Because Toast POS system runs on proprietary Android-powered terminals, tablets, and kitchen displays, its hardware is more affordable than competitors’.
Toast’s real-time inventory reporting feature provides immediate insight into inventory, suppliers, and prices so that you can make prompt, intelligent decisions. If actual inventory falls below expected inventory (think loss or theft), variance reports alert you so you can remedy the problems.
Toast will help you know everything about your consumers through every single order they place in the café POS System. Even the orders placed in person will be tracked. This will help you learn how much your frequent customers spend, their preferences, and when they visit.
By customizing your POS buttons, you can optimize customer transactions. Switch the tablet to face customers, and while they decide their order, you can take more orders on your mobile/tablet from online customers. Toast can send orders directly to a screen in the kitchen or bar for fast service.
Toast price starts at $79/month. You might want to integrate online ordering for $50/month or mobile loyalty reward program for $25/month. Installation starts at $499 (0% financing available), with on-site installation costing $1500.
Toast provides you with a customer representative to walk you through two parts of your setup. They first help you manage the entire setup of Toast for your café. Then, they give you an individual customer representative to help you train all of your employees.
Additionally, Toast offers 24/7 customer service.
Certain features, like its loyalty program, require an extra monthly fee.
Secondly, you are locked into using Toast’s proprietary payments processor, preventing you from getting better deals elsewhere and limiting integration with your current merchant services.
Also, Toast only works with Android and not with iOS. Toast is a bit more expensive than some competitors, but this is more than offset by the superb customer service, ease of set-up, and core features.
Designed with bars and cafés in mind, Lightspeed Restaurant has every asset a café owner would want in a POS system.
Advanced business reporting, employee scheduling, streamlining orders, and multi-location inventory control, are just some of the features that make this product a good choice for a busy coffee shop or numerous cafés.
Lightspeed is cloud-based, so you can oversee staff performance, inventory, emergency changes, reports – from anywhere. If you are disconnected from the internet, you can continue in off-line mode. You just need to resync when you reconnect.
Lightspeed lets you see performance metrics like sales, hours worked, tips, and vacation schedule. You also can view end-of-day report to see what sold well, and who sold well.
Lightspeed’s detailed reports comprise every aspect of the business, down to the tab, tip, and server of each customer transaction.
For $69/month you get one register, personalized onboarding, 24×7 support, free updates, secure cloud backup, and basic reporting. Training options also include webinars and a customer forum.
The loyalty program – featuring email/SMS, branded loyalty program, and preset smart customer groups – costs $49/month.
Configuring the many features that come with Lightspeed takes more time than setting up other POS systems.
Also, CRM options that come built-in with competitors’ system require third-party add-ons for Lightspeed. However, Lightspeed does virtually all of the essential tasks the owner of a mid- to large-size café needs to perform.
ShopKeep is an all-around solution for retail and café shops, even having a customized Coffee Shop POS.
This POS System is built from the ground up for Apple’s mobile devices, so its iPad-friendly interface is dependable and easy to use. ShopKeep is EMV-compliant and is best for small- to medium-sized cafés. Plus, it’s a pay-as-you-go solution with no termination fee.
ShopKeep’s register has a variety of capabilities, from ringing up items to adding modifiers, taking payments, quick discounting, easy return/refund, split/merge tabs, and much more. No extra training or expertise is required to use it.
The iPad button layout can be set easily and managed by the back office. Tableside ordering and payment can be done using an iPad.
What’s impressive about the back office is that it includes a wealth of features. Small-scale cafés will be paying just $69/month for advanced tools that include inventory, customers data, employee data, and a variety of reports for analysis. Plus, it provides 24/7 technical support.
The inventory management function is worth highlighting because it goes well beyond what you’d expect from a POS System. You can also set reorder points and use a detailing capacity function to assign what, how much, and from which seller to arrange low-cost items.
ShopKeep’s extensive business reports include the bread-and-butter sales, inventory, staff, and customer reports. But you can dive into the details and analyze what sales you need to run to turn a profit, who are your best customers, who are your top servers, and more.
The multi-location feature enables you to view all your stores on one parent website by clicking a drop-down box you can view each store reports. A comprehensive view of each location is also available along with a dashboard review.
Shopkeep’s pocket app lets you see all of your data for any of your locations from any mobile device – a huge advantage if you are a traveling owner.
ShopKeep costs $69/month per register, and it is a pay-as-you-go POS System that has no termination fee. If you need more than one register, then for each additional register, you pay $69, and after three registers the price drops to $29/register per month.
You will not have to pay a service or maintenance fee. Additionally, when you pay monthly charges, the tech fee is included. Shopkeep offers nifty extras that can be added to the system include open check functionality, employee management, tip later feature, tableside ordering and more.
ShopKeep offers amazing customer service. Their service is available to you 24/7, 365 days a year. This means that even when you are at your busiest, ShopKeep has your back. You can also feel confident that the customer service agent helping you has experience in multiple retail backgrounds.
ShopKeep does not offer table mapping – a downside if your café is a sit-down establishment. Instead of screens in the kitchen or drink line, ShopKeep prints orders there. Most coffee shops can get by without these features.
For cafés and restaurants, Upserve is easy to set up, permits business in offline mode, and provides tableside ordering and other efficiencies for a reasonable price.
Upserve’s simple, non-distracting design helps servers and cashiers easily accept payments, take orders, and send orders to the back.
In training mode, new staff can safely learn to master their tasks so that they can perform every part of their jobs smoothly.
For example, they can practice splitting checks, holding items, and checking guests, using the café’s actual menu and seating layout.
Upserve security controls carefully guard business data and protect you by halting transactions when fraud is suspected.
You can analyze trends in product popularity over time, allowing you to see which brews attract customers and bring them back again.
With a tap you can view employee performance reports showing which employees may need attention based on tips, number of sales, and absence of voids/refunds.
Upserve offers two plans, each assuming a 4-terminal setup.
The Core plan costs $65 per terminal, while the Pro plan is $100 per terminal. Both price plans include key reports (e.g., sales, product mix, labor), payment processing and the Upserve mobile app.
The Pro plan adds such features as online ordering, EMV payments, loyalty programs, and multi-location analytics.
Upstart also provides automatic tech refreshes, including instant bug-fixes, security patches, and feature updates.
Both Upserve price plans include an outstanding service package, featuring reliable 24/7 U.S.-based support by phone, email, or live chat. Upserve even does menu programming, employee training, and hardware set-up.
Most online reviews from customers are favorable, but a few complained of outages and downtimes.
Vend is a powerful mobile POS that can operate even when disconnected from the internet, resyncing after reconnecting. Vend can handle large retail chains, but it can be customized for small coffee shops as well.
Its 30-day trial period will give you the opportunity to walk through the product’s various functions like setting up taxes, adding customers and inventory, and setting prices. Vend is designed with security in mind, tracking all cash to reduce the risk of theft and errors.
Vend makes it easy to set up and run loyalty programs like gift cards and earned rewards. Instead of using a complicated point system, Vend lets you set how many dollars the customer has to spend to earn a dollar credit.
Managing inventory with Vend is simple, whether you want to add new beverages one by one, or whether you wish to import or export an entire file.
Vend can be integrated with a variety of other products, one example being Deputy for employee management. This covers employee scheduling, timesheets, performance monitoring, and sales trends.
Vend’s Lite package runs $99/month, covering one outlet and one register, and it includes inventory management, 24/7 phone and online support, and small business reporting. Consider paying another $30/month for the Pro package, and you will get gift cards, loyalty programs, and advanced reporting.
Vend is cloud-based, so it does not require special hardware. The Mac and PC bundle includes a printer and cash drawer and costs about $360, while the iPad bundle is $980 and includes stands, a cash drawer, printer, and battery back-up.
Vend has an array of customer support and training options: 24/7 global phone support; email; Vend University, an online tutorial site; and social media channels.
Vend’s inventory management is not as powerful as Toast’s and Lightspeed’s.
Vend offers a huge list of features any retailer would want, but its website does not mention floor management and mobile ordering. This makes it seem less of a fit for restaurants and cafés than Toast or Lightspeed.
Most restaurant-focused POS systems have all the basics you need to get by, but here are features to look for that will help you maximize your café’s potential.
Pretty much all retail and restaurant POS systems allow owners to get reports remotely, but not all of them allow you to actual run the business remotely. Check to see whether the POS you’re shopping can monitor sales and employee activity from a web browser. If someone else actively manages your café, this is probably a must-have feature.
Efficient turnover makes for satisfied customers and increased sales. Most POS systems can send orders (if it is a coffee-shop with a table set-up) and take payment at the table to increase that turnover.
Top POS systems also can keep track of employee’s tips, number of customers served, and hours worked. Café owners can then determine training needs or other remedies.
Poor inventory management is one of the biggest business expenses in the restaurant world. The right POS helps you automate the process by setting reorder benchmarks for each item based on purchase trends. It’s also the most effective way to mitigate expenses and decrease overhead inventory costs.
When inventory management is used effectively, you’ll never have to disappoint a customer again by explaining you’re out of a particular menu item.
Business owners must keep their eyes on table turn time, tips, cash flow, sales activity, customer trends (e.g., popular vs. unpopular beverages), and other metrics.
Look for a POS system that comes with the reports you expect to use and allows you to drill down into the details. Exception reports can show when there are refunds, returns, or voids, indicating inefficiencies in sales.
Each of these five POS systems has thousands of highly satisfied customers. Take advantage of free trial periods (Vend and Lightspeed offer them as of this writing) to see which is better for you.
You likely would not go wrong choosing either Toast, Lightspeed, or ShopKeep; it depends, among other things, on the size and activity level of your business.
Choosing a POS system can be a difficult decision, but we're here to assist you. We don't just review POS systems; we provide complete buyer's guides that are tailored to your business type. Reach out to us to see how we've helped more than 5,000 business owners with POS solutions!