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The Best POS Systems for Restaurants in 2024

Updated Jan 09, 2024
Best for Overall Value
  • Competitive prices
  • Order customization
  • Simple plan upgrades
  • Competitive prices
  • Order customization
  • Simple plan upgrades
Best POS for Customer Experience
  • Waitlist management and alerts
  • Curbside pickup options
  • Self-service and QR code ordering
  • Waitlist management and alerts
  • Curbside pickup options
  • Self-service and QR code ordering
Best for Restaurants
  • Send orders to kitchen
  • Manage customer loyalty
  • Add unlimited users
  • Send orders to kitchen
  • Manage customer loyalty
  • Add unlimited users
Best for Minimizing Transaction Fees
  • Offload transaction fees
  • Bluetooth weight scale
  • Gift card tools
  • Offload transaction fees
  • Bluetooth weight scale
  • Gift card tools
Best for Hardware
Toast Restaurant POS
toast company logo
  • Free for new restaurants
  • Managed contactless delivery
  • Commission-free online orders
  • Free for new restaurants
  • Managed contactless delivery
  • Commission-free online orders

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Max Freedman
Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst at businessnewsdaily.com
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At the end of a meal at your restaurant, you want to make guest payment as easy as possible. That’s where point-of-sale (POS) systems come into play — and that’s far from their only use in restaurants. In fact, many of the best POS systems for restaurants include features such as floorplan and table management, self-service kiosks and shift scheduling.

To help you decide which POS system is best for your restaurant, we researched and tested some of the top solutions on the market today. We narrowed these down to five platforms that excel on fronts such as customer experience, hardware and overall value.

Reviews

BND Ribbon
Our Top Picks for 2024
Clover Restaurant POS
Cake Restaurant POS
TouchBistro Restaurant POS
Toast Restaurant POS
Rating8.9/108.9/108.4/109.2/108.7/10
Best use case

Overall value

Customer experience

Restaurants

Minimizing transaction fees

Hardware

Free trial

30 days

None

None

None

None

Starting price

$160 per month

$69 per month

$69 per month

$59 per month

Free to start

Third-party integrations

Yes (100+)

Yes

Yes (25+)

Yes (80+)

Yes (95+)

Third-party payment processor compatibility

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Customer service

Phone and email

Phone and text, live chat, email

Phone, email, live chat

Phone, email, live chat

Phone, email, live chat

Review Link
Scroll Table

Clover: Best POS for Overall Value

  • Clover offers restaurant POS technology at bargain prices for a combined software and hardware package.
  • In Clover’s robust solutions, restaurant features live alongside standard POS tools such as non-Wi-Fi payments.
  • You can’t integrate Clover with third-party hardware, which could be a problem if you’re dead-set on using another vendor’s terminals, kiosks or card readers.
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10
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Clover’s vast hardware options and customization features drive its overall value as a restaurant POS system sky-high. The platform gives you floor plan and table management, menu management, order customization, and split checks along with 24/7 support and a touchscreen POS terminal. What won us over is that all this comes at shockingly reasonable monthly prices that also cover seamless hardware upgrades and automatic software updates. Plus, it’s simple to upgrade your plan and add more POS terminals. We like it when vendors make growth accessible.

Clover offers POS fundamentals too, such as accepting payments without an internet connection and automatically processing them once your connection returns. You can also accept card payments (including over the phone) and contactless payments with your Clover setup. We like that cash and check payments are possible too, with most deposits arriving in your bank account the next day. If you want a platform to facilitate all your sales while fully powering your restaurant operations, we found no vendor that offers more value per dollar than Clover.

Cake: Best for Customer Experience

  • You can use CAKE to take online reservations and orders, manage waitlists, offer curbside pickup, and update guests on when their table will be ready.
  • Guests can order and pay themselves via CAKE’s self-service POS kiosks and QR code tools.
  • You’ll be locked into a two-year contract when you get started with CAKE.
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10
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With CAKE’s self-service kiosks, you put your guests’ experience almost entirely in their own hands. Your guests can make reservations online through CAKE, and you can manage your waitlist through the software too. We like that you can send guests alerts as you get their tables ready — this always improves the customer experience. Plus, with CAKE’s mobile orders and QR code orders, you serve customers wherever they are. These features and more make CAKE our top restaurant POS for customer experience.

We like that CAKE gives customers the flexibility to choose how they pay, whether that’s via contactless pay or traditional credit cards. The platform’s ingredient tracking features also impressed us, since they enable customers with dietary restrictions or food allergies to easily order appropriate meals. We felt that CAKE’s self-service kiosks were especially a highlight — they withstand restaurant wear and tear and give customers nearly infinite options. With CAKE, you’ll always keep the customer experience top notch.

TouchBistro: Best POS for Restaurants

  • TouchBistro is designed for restaurants, with high-quality tools that include reservations, split checks and real-time menu updates.
  • You can add customer loyalty features and marketing tools so TouchBistro grows in tandem with your restaurant operations.
  • TouchBistro doesn’t offer a free trial, unlike some other POS systems. This makes it substantially more difficult to fully determine whether the platform is right for your operations.
Editor's Rating: 8.4/10
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TouchBistro is our best POS pick for restaurants since its features make good on its intent to primarily serve restaurants. With TouchBistro you can split checks, update your menu in real time, manage tables and seating arrangements, send orders to your kitchen, and take reservations. Plus, TouchBistro’s add-on model makes it easy to start a restaurant and implement more tools and features as your operations scale. This way, you can grow from a small food truck to a multilocation operation.

We also like that TouchBistro regularly updates its software to give you the best possible tools and features at all times. That means your restaurant always offers a top-notch customer experience. We were impressed with TouchBistro’s supplemental features for guest management too, including a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) platform as well as marketing and promotional tools. There’s no maximum number of users no matter how many TouchBistro features you use — and no growth caps as you enrich your operations.

Lavu: Best POS for Minimizing Transaction Fees

  • Lavu includes special technology for incentivizing your guests to cover your transaction fees, thus reducing your operating costs.
  • You’re also incentivized to leverage this technology, as Lavu lowers your subscription costs when you use this tool.
  • Lavu plans come with at most two POS terminals, and additional terminals cost $50 per terminal per month.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10
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Credit card processing fees could cost your restaurant just under 5 percent of revenue per month. Few restaurant POS systems offer any cost-reducing solutions, and Lavu is a notable exception. We were impressed by this vendor’s cash discount program with dual pricing, and we didn’t see any technology quite like it with other platforms. Through this tool, customers always see a cash price and card price for their orders. This allows each guest to either save money with a cash order or to be aware that their extra costs cover your credit card processing fees.

We liked how effective Lavu’s cash discount solution is for both your customers and your restaurant. Many customers are happy to pay a little more for great service — that’s why big tippers exist. It follows that customers might cover your transaction fees if you transparently show them that credit card purchases cost you more. And if that alone isn’t compelling enough, Lavu prices its services lower when you agree to use the cash discount system. We appreciate this generosity — you get cash back on both POS fees and costs.

Toast: Best POS System for Hardware

Toast
toast company logo
  • Toast’s POS hardware withstands high temperatures and spills while blending into your environment.
  • Guests can easily order and pay online or tableside, and Toast never charges commissions on these orders — even when its drivers deliver your food.
  • You may incur fees if you choose to cancel your Toast account.
Editor's Rating: 8.7/10

Toast is our top restaurant POS system for hardware, since this vendor’s offerings hold up to restaurant conditions and blend seamlessly into any environment. We like that Toast takes into account both your hardware’s longevity and your need for a unified visual theme and experience. We were impressed that you can easily place Toast’s wall mounts, flip stands or printers anywhere you want. This allows you to give your kitchen staff and servers full visibility wherever you best see fit.

We appreciate the way Toast streamlines the customer experience too. Guests can easily place orders for takeout, including contactless pickup, since it makes your whole menu — with real-time updates — available online. Plus, through Toast Mobile Order and Pay, guests in your restaurant can order tableside from their phones. We were impressed that, on top of all this, Toast runs its own delivery service and never charges commissions on your orders. Best of all, it offers a free plan for new restaurants that gives you everything you need on a budget.

Costs of POS Systems for Restaurants

Restaurant POS systems charge a monthly subscription fee that gives you access to POS software and at least one POS hardware device. These subscriptions start at $59 per month, though Toast offers a free plan for new restaurants. You can upgrade to higher-priced plans that include more software features, such as customer loyalty plans and QR code ordering, as well as additional hardware devices. These add-ons and upgrades may increase your monthly cost from just under $100 to several hundred dollars more.

Most POS vendors also sell hardware devices independent of your subscription. You’ll often need to request a quote for this equipment, which may include kitchen display systems and customer-facing displays. For a full equipment setup, you might spend $200 on the low end and $1,600 on the high end, depending on which vendor you partner with and the capabilities your restaurant needs.

Payment processing fees are also part and parcel of any POS system. These often take the form of a percentage of each transaction, which may fall between 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent. There may also be a small additional flat fee for each transaction. In most cases, you can’t avoid these fees, though Lavu’s dual pricing model enables you to easily offload them to the customer.

Bottom LineBottom line
After an initial investment of hundreds to thousands of dollars, your POS system will cost a few hundred dollars per month. You’re also responsible for payment processing fees — typically a percentage of each transaction plus a small additional fee per transaction.

Features of POS Systems for Restaurants

A feature-rich restaurant POS will prove more effective for streamlining your operations, from back of house all the way to the front. Here are some key features to seek out in a great POS system for restaurants.

Online and Mobile Ordering

The average consumer expects your restaurant to provide delivery or takeout options that they can access from anywhere. Many POS systems come with tools for setting this up via dedicated websites. You can include the URL for this site on your Google Business Profile to get customers right to your menu and order page. With the right restaurant POS, these pages will be one and the same, making everything easier for your customers.

Mobile POS

With mobile POS tools, your restaurant can process customer payments at the tableside. This massively reduces the time between a guest getting their check and signing the receipt’s merchant copy. Plus, since a mobile POS is compatible with just about any mobile device, it reduces the need to buy POS hardware.

Self-Service Kiosks and Payment

The future of the restaurant customer experience may be in fully self-sufficient dining experiences. POS self-service kiosks and payment options bring this future into the present. Your guests place their orders, add customizations and tender payment whenever they’ve decided what to eat — all without a server’s involvement.

Check Splitting

Sometimes, with large groups of guests, each person prefers to put down their own card instead of loading the bill onto one patron’s card. You can enable this with restaurant POS check-splitting features. Your servers can use these tools to assign items to patrons, who then use their cards to cover their own costs. Not every restaurant offers this flexibility, so implementing this feature can improve your customer experience and keep guests returning.

Inventory Management

The best POS systems for restaurants include inventory management tools for tracking the stock levels of each ingredient you use in the kitchen. Some platforms include vendor management and purchase order tools, and these advanced features may be necessary to keep your kitchen properly stocked. The same is true for tools that indicate to customers which menu items are sold out based on your inventory levels.

Payment Processing

Payment processing tools for restaurant POS systems should cover contactless payments as well as card and cash transactions. They should also allow for payments to be processed when your internet connection is down and completed once you’re reconnected. This way, you can keep running your restaurant amid even the most severe network outages.

Employee Management

Many restaurant POS systems include tools for adding employees and managing their schedules and shifts. You might also find platforms with built-in time clocks for employee clock-in and clock-out, as well as tools for managing servers’ tips. These features pair neatly with restaurant POS tools for managing your tables, menu and everything in between.

Customer Management

Certain restaurant POS systems all but double as CRM platforms for storing customer profiles. This CRM functionality has numerous applications in email marketing and customer loyalty programs. For example, you can use this information to maintain and serve an email list and offer special rewards on customers’ birthdays.

Add-Ons and Integrations

POS systems often integrate with the best accounting software platforms, such as QuickBooks and Xero. They may also integrate with the best email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact. With these integrations, the data in your POS always matches that in your other platforms. That means you can execute functions in one to execute parallel functions in the others rather than manually taking the same steps on each platform. The end result is more streamlined financial and marketing processes.

FYIDid you know
QuickBooks is our top accounting software for small businesses. Learn more via our QuickBooks review.

Customer Support

The best POS vendors for restaurants keep their customer support teams available well outside standard weekday business hours. After all, your restaurant likely operates well into the evening or even past midnight. That’s why POS vendors offering 24/7 support make all the difference. You’ll get the help you need on key issues whether it’s 1 p.m. or 1 a.m.

Reservation and Waitlist Management

You can use POS systems to oversee guest reservations and manage your waitlist. This includes offering reservations in the first place and alerting customers to their place in line and changes in their wait time. Leveraging this technology can give your customer experience an edge over similar establishments. More foot traffic could result.

Menu Management

Top-notch restaurant POS systems give you the tools to build an online menu and auto-update your items’ availability based on your inventory levels. This way, customers never put in an order only to be told that what they wanted is unavailable. You’ll prevent a major customer complaint and keep guests coming back for seconds.

Floor Plan and Table Management

With many restaurant POS platforms, you can set and modify a floor plan as well as visualize how your guests and staff will move through your establishment. This feature usually goes hand in hand with table management tools for taking each table’s orders, assigning serves to tables and overseeing your seating availability. Smoother, more coherent operations should result.

Reporting

As with any type of high-quality technology, POS systems for restaurants often include a bevy of reporting features. For example, you might be able to run reports detailing your staff’s performance and activity. With this information, you can make smarter scheduling decisions and find ways to cut costs. You might also be able to run sales reports showing which menu items your guests like best and when these items’ sales peak. This data can inform how you build your happy hour menu or seasonal promotions.

Choosing a POS System for Restaurants

Take the following steps to decide which restaurant POS system is best for your operations.

1. Research Vendors and Read Reviews

Vendors’ websites typically include pricing tables that detail the features you get with each membership tier. Compare and contrast several vendors’ tables to determine which providers give you the best bang for your buck.

Consider restaurant-specific POS features such as menu management, kitchen display systems and curbside pickup. Not all POS vendors offer these, and you should only consider those that do. It’s also important to look for 24/7 customer support, as your restaurant probably operates well outside weekdays and standard business hours.

Then, read guides such as this one as well as customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This should give you an idea of which vendors’ reputations and offerings justify their price points.

TipTip
You may fare better reading Trustpilot reviews than BBB reviews. Although both are valuable to consider, BBB reviews are typically fewer in number and skew negative.

Trustpilot reviews, on the other hand, are usually plentiful and mostly positive. Disgruntled reviewers seem to take to the BBB, whereas all types of customers leave Trustpilot reviews.

2. Try Out High-Ranking Candidates for Yourself

There’s nothing quite like testing a platform yourself before signing up for it to know whether it fits your needs. It’s paramount to get a demo or — even better — a free trial before you register for any POS vendor. Try out the software and hardware devices for both your online and in-person operations to see what guests and your staff think. Seek out feedback and make your choices based on that.

3. Review Your Final Pricing Offers

In some cases, POS vendors will offer you a quote, and in other cases, your price will be the amount listed on the vendor’s website. Consider these final prices alongside the features and usability you’ve experienced to decide which platform is best for you.

Advantages of POS Systems for Restaurants

Below are some key ways POS systems for restaurants can benefit your operations and bottom line.

  • Restaurant infrastructure. Restaurant POS systems go well beyond facilitating sales — they build out your establishment’s entire backbone. You can use your POS system to create an online menu, take online and mobile orders, and manage your inventory. With certain platforms, you can also manage your staff, run customer loyalty programs, and execute marketing campaigns. POS systems can be a one-stop shop for restaurant infrastructure.
  • Increased customer satisfaction. With online menus that update in real time, tableside order placement and payment, easy check splitting, and self-service kiosks, customers get everything they need.
  • Diversity of payment options. Customers are increasingly demanding payment options beyond cash and card, such as contactless smart device payment. With the right POS system for your restaurant, you can offer these payment options as well as QR code payments. You’ll bring your restaurant into the modern age — and customers to your tables.
  • Comprehensive reporting. No POS system for restaurants is complete without analytics tools for assessing your sales, staff performance and scheduling needs. These reports tie your data to actionable steps you can take to meet customer needs and maximize your bottom line.
  • Payment processing. POS systems either come with their own payment processing suites or integrate seamlessly with the best credit card processing platforms. These systems ensure you can accept customer payments and get the cash your restaurant needs.
  • Supplementary services. Add-ons and ancillary tools such as CRM, marketing and employee management further streamline your processes. From one simple platform, you can take the reins over all your most important processes — even ones not directly related to restaurant operations.

POS System for Restaurant FAQs

You would have to be cash-only to run a restaurant without a POS system, and even then, lacking a POS platform would prove unnecessarily complicated. POS systems are standard among restaurants since they massively streamline operations while addressing nearly all guest wants and needs.

There may be a small initial learning curve when you implement a POS system and train your staff on it. However, POS systems are built to be intuitive and simplify complex processes. Set aside roughly 40 hours for staff training, and everyone should be up to speed.

The drawbacks of POS systems — price, security risks, internet connectivity reliance — are all inherently solved in top POS vendors’ offerings. You break even on POS costs since your operations become much more streamlined, and POS systems must be PCI-compliant to maximize security. Plus, most POS systems can accept payments offline and process them once your Wi-Fi connection returns.

POS hardware typically lasts five to seven years, but most restaurant POS hardware is designed to withstand spills, high temperatures and other restaurant conditions. This means restaurant POS hardware lasts longer than other POS setups.

POS systems and cash registers aren’t mutually exclusive — the latter are often part of the former. A cash register can complete cash transactions, but POS systems process all types of transactions and oversee your operations. Through a POS system, you can manage inventory, market to customers, build out loyalty programs, and so much more.

Max Freedman
Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst at businessnewsdaily.com
Max Freedman, has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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