Best POS systems for restaurants
These top POS systems for restaurants will help prepare your business for whatever the pandemic throws at it
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Table service, takeouts, extra toilet cleaning – the coronavirus pandemic has changed the restaurant industry tenfold.
The phrase ‘social distancing’ has undoubtedly become ingrained into working life. Once bustling restaurant floors are now running with reduced covers and limited menus. Restaurants have had to get online and adopt order and pay technology to keep the business ticking over with takeaways, while restaurant staff are having to man hand sanitiser stations, collect personal information, and step up cleaning as part of their new job specification.
Restaurant managers are no longer just responsible for ensuring guests enjoy themselves. They’re also responsible for guest health and safety during a pandemic – which means purchasing a restaurant point of sale (POS) system that can help them to handle it all is essential.
With table management systems, booking software, and remote payment taking just some of the advanced technology on offer, there’re lots of reasons why electronic POS systems have swiftly become the leading choice for restaurants looking to run safely and efficiently.
But with plenty of POS companies jumping on the bandwagon, choosing the best restaurant POS system for your business can often seem daunting and confusing. Thankfully, startups.co.uk has been providing advice on restaurant EPOS systems for over 20 years.
|Lightspeed for Restaurants|
|Square for Restaurants|
|Zettle Food and Drink|
Previously known as iZettle Food and Drink
Best POS systems for restaurants: an overview
Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, which means their needs are not always the same. Some offer a dine and dash culture, while others are built around providing customers with a high end dining experience. The following systems offer businesses a combination of modern POS hardware and intelligent restaurant POS software, ensuring that no matter what type of restaurant you run, your needs will be met.
Thanks to its ease of use and integration capabilities, EPOS Now is one of the best POS systems for restaurants in the time of Covid-19. Not only does it help staff with things like tableside ordering, but it integrates with booking systems and delivery apps to help you make the most out of being out of lockdown, while still keeping customers and staff safe.
If you’re running on tight margins, EPOS Now’s advanced stock-taking features will help you to keep track of your spending. Meanwhile, the ability to automate purchase orders will help keep your mind at ease while you’re concentrating on keeping your business Covid-secure.
Staying in sync with what your customers are ordering and not ordering can be key to a restaurant’s success. With EPOS Now’s in-depth reporting features, you’ll be able to see what’s selling and what’s not, and also find out when the best times are to put on promotions, such as dedicating a day of the week to a certain dish.
There's also its front and back of house synchronisation, its kitchen management features, and its workplace management system, Deputy. When you add all these to the above, you can see why EPOS Now has clinched the top spot in our list of the best restaurant POS systems.
EPOS Now pricing: One off payment of £1,199 or £47/month
With several tiers to choose from, Lightspeed grows alongside your restaurant business, so you never pay out for more features than you need. Better still, Lightspeed has a range of features available for casual dining, quick service, and fine dining restaurants, meaning it can meet your requirements, whichever direction you choose to take your business.
Lightspeed for Restaurants gives you the ability to create separate menus for separate devices, enabling you to streamline your restaurant setup for lunch and dinner services. And with the ability to take orders in minimal taps, servers don’t have to be at the table any longer than absolutely necessary, minimising Covid-19 transmission risk.
One of the most common pain points for restaurants is customers splitting the bill. Instead of hasty mental math calculations at the table, Lightspeed for Restaurants enables waiting staff to automatically split the bill by seat, so customers only pay for what they’ve ordered.
Restaurant owners have the option to integrate Lightspeed’s restaurant POS software with ordering apps, delivery software, customer loyalty software, and even supplier management software, meaning restaurant managers have all the tools they need to maximise their profits as the UK leaves lockdown.
Lightspeed for Restaurants pricing: Most popular package £59/month
For a relatively simple piece of kit, Square for Restaurants packs a lot of punch. Armed with an iPad, the Square Terminal, and the Square Card Reader, you could have all the equipment you need to get your restaurant business off the ground.
Square’s restaurant POS software is fairly basic on its own, but with lots of possible integrations, you can create a package that best suits your restaurant business. One of our favourite integrations is Squarespace, a website builder that enables restaurants to create beautiful websites with built-in booking systems.
Square is also compatible with a huge range of third party apps and POS accessories, meaning you can expand your system’s software and hardware as your restaurant grows.
Not to be dismissed by ambitious restaurateurs, Square for Restaurants offers all the tools you need to help run a relatively Covid-secure business. It offers sophisticated table management features, and the option to integrate booking tools and delivery apps. Its Square Terminal and Card Reader also facilitate table service.
Square doesn’t require you to have a merchant account, which means you can start serving customers as soon as you’ve received the Square Card Reader and downloaded the Square for Restaurants software onto your iPad. Instead, Square changes 1.75% per transaction, and usually pays into your business bank account in 1-2 business days. Check out our full Square review for more information.
Square for Restaurants pricing: Free, £69/month, or bespoke, all for an unlimited number of devices.
TouchBistro is a fairly expensive restaurant POS system. But, as the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’. TouchBistro’s restaurant POS software is rammed full of features to help you run and manage your business, including sophisticated tableside ordering, in-depth back end reporting, and the ability to integrate with plenty of third party apps.
For high end restaurants with cocktail bars, staff can process orders in just two taps, giving them more time to make customers feel welcome. At the table, naturally placed menu prompts enable servers to upsell on the spot, or inform customers of any allergy information.
The restaurant POS system also offers restaurant owners a way to increase customer loyalty, which is particularly important in current times. Thanks to a built-in loyalty functionality, you can collect information on what your members are ordering and send them targeted marketing material, such as offers on their favourite dishes or wines.
While TouchBistro’s restaurant POS system has lots of features for you to take advantage of, it is expensive, so you may want to think about going for this system if you’re sure that you’ll make full use out of it.
TouchBistro pricing: First license £49/month, 2nd and 3rd license £45/month, 4-9 licenses £40/month
Quick editorial note: iZettle has recently rebranded to Zettle by PayPal, and the Food and Drink product is now named Zettle Food and Drink. The product offering remains the same. So, for the time being, we will continue to refer to the previous, well-established product names. Find more information on zettle.com.
iZettle Food and Drink has replaced iZettle Pro as iZettle's point of sale offering for restaurant businesses. It's far more sophisticated than its predecessor, offering more features and integrations such as delivery app integration and payment options. iZettle is also offering businesses iZettle Food and Drink free for three months if you sign up by the end of September.
iZettle Food and Drink is very similar to Square for Restaurants when it comes to features, although Square does offer restaurant business owners more freedom when it comes to integrating things like customer relationship management and employee management software.
However, the great thing about iZettle Food and Drink is it's a decent product in its own right, and should offer restaurant businesses most of what they need without having to worry about paying extra for third party apps. While iZettle has pushed up its payment processing fee from 1.25% to 1.75%, the software is much cheaper than Square for Restaurants, coming in at just £29/month per iPad.
Oh and a quick note here
Read our full iZettle review for more information.
Price: £29/month per iPad
The best of the rest
Right now, restaurants need a point of sale system that’ll ensure they’re as pandemic-proof as possible – and that doesn’t just mean enabling servers to carry out tableside ordering and take card payments. It also means they need a booking system to ensure they know how many covers they can expect per service, and the option to offer a delivery and takeout service if the country goes into lockdown again.
The following restaurant POS system is great for restaurant owners who need a cost-effective way to get their business up and running, enabling servers to take orders at the table and carry out an efficient service. However, at this time, it doesn't integrate with booking or delivery apps.
The best restaurant POS systems: final verdict
According to our research, the best POS systems for restaurants are:
- EPOS Now
- Lightspeed for Restaurants
- Square for Restaurants
- iZettle Food and Drink
- Nobly POS
The top four restaurants on our list offer all the features restaurants need to operate effectively during a pandemic, including delivery app integration, booking system integration, and table service facilitation.
EPOS Now is a great all-rounder, offering businesses solid restaurant POS software features for a reasonable price. For those looking to grow their business, Lightspeed offers a range of tiered packages to choose from, while Square for Restaurants enables you to add third party apps and integrations as and when you need them.
For a serious point of sale system from the offset, choose TouchBistro. And if you’re looking for a simple yet effective POS system to get your restaurant business off the ground, iZettle Food and Drink offers everything you need.
Best POS systems for restaurants: the FAQs
Which supplier offers the best POS system for new restaurants?
If you're just starting out with a brand new restaurant business, you may want to look at a restaurant POS system that grows alongside your restaurant. Square for Restaurants is a good option for this, as you can add extra hardware, upgrade certain aspects of your software package, and integrate third party software to build a system that's right for you.
What are order and pay apps?
Order and pay apps allow your customers to order and pay for their food on their phone. You can use an order and pay app in an order at table capacity, and also to enable customers to order for click and collect or delivery.
Order and pay apps are usually hosted by a third party provider and can be web-based (and accessed through a QR code) or native (downloadable). You can either integrate an order and pay app into your POS system or use it as a standalone system. Our guide on how to set up click and collect for hospitality businesses offers more information the different types of order and pay apps.
Do I need an order and pay app or a POS system?
Although order and pay apps allow you to take payments, they aren't a replacement for a proper point of sale system. They aren't scalable, don't offer detailed enough analytics, and hardware integration is limited. You should use an order and pay app alongside your point of sale system – either integrated into it or standalone. If you need help finding the right order and pay app for your restaurant business, our quiz is a quick way to find suppliers that meet your requirements.