Restaurant point of sale (POS) systems are unique in that they deliver restaurant-specific software features not found elsewhere. Retail POS systems, for example, don’t include kitchen management features.
Today, we’re taking a look at two popular restaurant POS systems: Toast POS and NCR Aloha. We’ll compare various aspects of each system to provide you with insight into where each respective system excels.
To start, Toast is produced by a smaller company than Aloha. Toast is best suited for smaller establishments such as bakeries, local restaurants, coffee shops, and so on.
Aloha is produced by NCR, a POS giant with a larger footprint, serving a broader range of business types. Aloha—one of NCRs restaurant POS systems—would be a better option for a global restaurant chain. The company claims: “More restaurant employees are trained on NCR Aloha than any other restaurant software.”
Below, we’ll dig into each system to uncover strengths and weaknesses. We’ll also provide the information needed to decide which of the two would best fit your needs and requirements.
Toast vs. Aloha: Side-by-Side Comparison Summary
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Toast vs. Aloha: POS System Comparison
Because Toast and Aloha are both restaurant POS systems, they include many features that other systems do not. Below, we cover those as well as general POS features required by all types of businesses.
We provide side-by-side comparisons of various system attributes. We then let you determine which system would be best for you, based on your unique business requirements.
Food Ordering Capabilities
One of the most important variables to look for in restaurant POS systems is ordering capability. Does the system support online ordering? What about takeout and delivery orders?
Toast Ordering Capabilities
Toast offers standard ordering capabilities. With Toast, you can allow patrons to order online. You can also offer takeout order services as well as order delivery.
Toast’s ordering functionality is not included in its core POS software. Instead, you must pay extra for these features, which are included as an add-on module.
This is a point of contention for many of Toast’s customers. We understand why this would cause friction. Toast is considered to be one of the best restaurant POS systems on the market. One would expect these features to be included out of the box.
However, Toast’s tableside ordering feature is strong, and the vast majority of users are overly satisfied with it.
Aloha Ordering Capabilities
Aloha also offers many ways for patrons to order their meals. But, like Toast, Aloha charges users an extra fee to add online ordering capabilities.
Also, like Toast, Aloha’s customers feel these features should be included as table stakes in a restaurant POS system.
Aloha does include in-house ordering features that users rave about. They report these features to be very user friendly. From tableside ordering to fast communication of orders to kitchen staff, Aloha has all the bases covered.
WINNER: We call this comparison a draw.
Add-On Features Not Included in Base Package
As mentioned above in our comparison of each system’s ordering capabilities, both systems have feature gaps. They fill those gaps with add-ons, some of which cost extra to use, while others just need to be turned on.
Some of the fee-based add-on features seem like they should be included in a restaurant POS system at no extra charge. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for either of the systems we’re comparing. Both charge extra for multiple features.
This appears to be more of a problem with Toast users because many of them run smaller businesses with tighter budgets.
To illustrate the extent of the additional features not included in each system’s base package, we’ve compiled a list below. It’s not comprehensive, but rather intended to provide deeper insight into functionality gaps.
Toast’s Optional Add-On Features
Here, we provide a rundown of the functionality you must pay to use—on top of your monthly subscription fee.
- Online ordering capabilities
- Integrated marketing functionality
- Customer relationship management
- Customer loyalty programs
- Gift cards
- Advanced inventory management – You can run inventory reports with the basic package, but advanced inventory features come at an extra cost.
- Kitchen operation functionality
- Payroll automation
- The ability to integrate with third-party apps
Aloha’s Optional Add-On Features
Aloha has fewer add-on features. The challenge with Aloha is that there is virtually zero pricing information on the company’s website.
Aloha’s parent company—NCR—sells various solutions, Aloha being just one of them.
As we understand it, you must purchase these additional systems and integrate them in order to use the functionality they offer.
Aloha is a standalone solution with a static feature set. We were able to dig up a list of features from a press release put out by NCR.
What Aloha Does Include
According to that press release and a few concrete bits information from its website, Aloha includes the features listed below.
- Fixed and mobile restaurant POS capabilities
- Payment processing
- Mobile alerts
- Training order mode for new employees
- “Advanced” reporting
- Takeout functionality (the ability for an employee to manually enter an order and mark it as “for takeout” rather than for a table in the restaurant)
- Centralized site management (this is too vague to understand what it refers to)
- Menu management
- Automated kitchen scheduling
- Customer profiling
What Aloha Potentially Does Not Include
Looking at NCR’s other offerings, we can presume that Aloha does not include the features below, out of the box.
- Marketing capabilities
- Inventory management features
- Loyalty programs
- Multi-store management
- Employee management
- Split checks for dine-in customers
- Automated payroll functionality
- Even more advanced reporting
- Customer rewards and gift cards
- Complaint resolution features
- Mobile and online ordering
- Advanced order routing
- Multi-language settings
We call it a draw. Both systems lack certain basic features and deliver a poor user experience on their respective websites. They neither list pricing nor full feature sets, which could dissuade many potential customers from investigating their respective systems.
NOTE: The lack of transparent pricing is why you won’t see a “Pricing” section in this article.
When a restaurant’s POS system crashes or starts to malfunction, the entire operation is affected. That’s why it’s so important to deliver reliable POS customer support—especially for eating establishments.
Poor customer support leaves a lasting mark on the customer who had a poor experience. Subpar customer support can easily ruin a brand’s reputation.
Toast’s Customer Support
Toast receives mostly positive feedback from users. According to satisfied customers, Toast’s support team is very professional.
Dissatisfied customers report that customer support can be difficult to reach.
However, all in all, Toast’s customer support presence appears to be solid and reliable.
We compiled user ratings from reputable user review sites to understand customer sentiment around customer support and other system variables. Our research revealed that Toast has an aggregate user rating of 8.3 out of 10 in the customer support category.
Aloha’s Customer Support
Aloha system users say the quality of customer support has dropped significantly in recent years.
According to users, Aloha’s support team is not educated on all system features and can’t solve many user-reported issues. Some users report having to wait up to a week for a resolution to their problem.
Our compiled user ratings revealed that Aloha has an aggregate user rating of 6.7 out of 10 for customer support.
Ease of Use
Here, again, we compiled user ratings and calculated an aggregate score across three top user review sites. Here is what we found:
Toast Ease of Use Rating: 8.9 out of 10
Aloha Ease of Use Rating: 8.2 out of 10
All Features and Functionality
This is also an aggregate user rating. It takes into account the entire system’s feature set and rates it on how robust it is as a whole.
Toast Features and Functionality Rating: 8.1 out of 10
Aloha Features and Functionality Rating: 7.4 out of 10
Value for the Money
Another aggregate user score.
Toast Value for the Money Rating: 8 out of 10
Aloha Value for the Money Rating: 6.6 out of 10
Overall System Rating
Users also provide their rating for the system as a whole. This includes every facet of the solution and users’ overall experience using it.
Toast Overall Rating: 8.7 out of 10
Aloha Overall Rating: 7.7 out of 10
Toast vs. Aloha: POS Hardware
Every POS software system needs POS hardware components to carry out the commands the software sends.
Toast POS Hardware
The POS hardware Toast sells can be purchased as pre-set bundles or individual components.
Aside from its Starter Kit, which starts at $999, pricing is not listed on the website. For all other hardware, you must contact sales for a quote. However, their selection is vast, giving users many options.
Aloha POS Hardware
Aloha sells a surprisingly sparse selection of POS hardware, all manufactured by NCR. The only components they sell are:
- POS terminals
- Handheld devices for front-of-house staff
- Kitchen bump bars
- Kitchen touchscreen monitors
- Data servers
- Thermal printers
- Self-serve kiosks
Not surprisingly, none of their hardware has listed pricing associated with it. There are no hardware bundles to choose from.
WINNER: Toast wins for providing more options as well as bundles.
Is Toast or Aloha Your Better Bet?
Toast outscored Aloha in six of eight comparisons above. The other two resulted in a draw.
That doesn’t mean Aloha is a poor system. Large restaurant chains with many locations can add extra NCR modules and manage their entire restaurant empire from one system.
Toast is better suited for smaller restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars, and bakeries. From what we read, it’s significantly cheaper. Plus, it beat Aloha in our comparisons. It would be a better fit for these types of establishments.
Continue researching and evaluating systems before rushing into a decision. Read user reviews. Be sure to ask for a trial or a demo before committing to any system.
If you want to investigate other restaurant POS systems, we recommend you take a look at our TouchBistro POS review. You should also check out our Upserve POS review. These are two more industry-leading restaurant POS systems.
POS Quote Team
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