In an increasingly cashless economy, the old, one-size-fits-all point-of-sale (POS) system with payment terminals, touch screens, etc., may not be enough for your restaurant anymore.
Regardless of what type of restaurant you run—from quick-service shops and pizzerias, to mom-and-pop diners and food trucks, to fine dining—today’s modern restaurants need a POS system that meets customers’ constantly rising expectations. That means using a system that offers table-side ordering, menu updates, inventory management, credit card processing, tip calculation, and more.
Using a basic POS could result in errors when taking orders, delivering food, and tracking inventory. These issues can lead to negative reviews and ultimately damage your reputation, slowing down the flow of customers at your restaurant.
We can see below that technology is driving customers in the United States to dine out and order food online:
Thirty percent of customers in the United States say that technology influenced their decision to dine out or to order food online more often.
Forty-two percent said that the ability to order food online makes them choose one restaurant over the other.
A 2018 POS Software Trends Report notes that about 50% of restaurant operators plan to add new functionality and features to their POS software in 2018, while 37% are looking to develop and/or deploy mobile POS.
There are plenty of software options that provide the latest capabilities. In this article, we’ll look at the three top-rated POS systems for restaurants, cafes, and eateries. We’ll also see what actual users have to say about these products and learn about the benefits of using these apps.
(Please note: The feedback given in each of the “Common user feedback trends” sections are the opinions of the reviewers and do not represent the opinions of Capterra. Read more about our methodology at the bottom of this article.)
CAKE: All-in-One POS With Menu Edits and Order Management
CAKE POS is an all-in-one solution that features core POS functionality such as table-side ordering, quick menu editing, and order management. To streamline the workflow from the kitchen to the front of house. It works offline as well, automatically syncing the data once the device is online again.
Your servers and restaurant staff can take orders, send them to the kitchen, and accept payments on the CAKE POS OrderPad solution for iPad for $29/month. You can also change menu prices, add items, update menu options, and check the availability of menu options from the app.
CAKE POS’s dashboard facilitates customized order management. This helps your staff deal with an expanding menu (as you add or delete menu items). You can manage multiple prep stations, as well as approvals for comps (i.e., complimentary items given for free during a promotion).
The system also allows staff to clock in/out, provides time tracking tools (including overtime and breaks), and generates payroll reports.
Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from POS users in the restaurant industry, here’s an overview of the areas of CAKE they like best and those that could be improved.
What users like:
Easy menu management: Users like that they can easily make edits to the menu from a desktop or tablet and the changes are reflected instantly without rebooting the system.
Ease of use and short learning curve: Reviewers find CAKE POS easy to learn and use, with the added benefit of the solution being easily customizable to their business needs.
What users think could be improved:
Ticket management: Reviewers mention that they face issues while splitting individual menu items to multiple tickets. At times, they also find it difficult to transfer items to multiple tickets.
Lack of custom reporting functions: Reviewers would like a better search function in the reports feature. Currently, they say they have to go through several options to find the data they need.
Who Should Use CAKE POS?
CAKE POS is suitable for restaurant owners who want a POS that integrates other restaurant technology features, such as guest management, a reservations systems, and online marketing. The CAKE OrderPad iOS app suits restaurants, bars, and coffee shops as the service staff can take orders directly at the table or counter.
TouchBistro: iPad POS for Menu and Inventory Management
TouchBistro is an iPad POS app that lets restaurant owners and staff customize orders based on tables, manage menus, accept payments via EMV-compliant swipers and wireless devices, create staff schedules, and more.
Servers and staff can take orders from the bar and for delivery or take-out, as well as customize orders in the app. They can add items to an order and split bills and items by seat. Clone and organize menu items, update the menu, and route orders to kitchen printers and displays.
You can also track ingredients based on pricing and unit information as well as update recipe ingredients on the menus. The tap-to-create recipes functionality shows you common ingredients used in menu items.
TouchBistro offers functionality that calculates staff wages and labor costs based on each person’s role (i.e., bartender, chef, dishwasher). It tracks overtime as well with the clock-in/out functionality.
Complete menu view with prices for table-side ordering in TouchBistro (Source)
Common User Feedback Trends
Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from POS users in the restaurant industry, here’s an overview of the areas of TouchBistro they like best and those that could be improved.
What users like:
Helpful iCloud reporting: Users like the tool’s dashboard and iCloud reporting functionality, as they can generate a variety of reports and manage sales in real time.
Responsive technical support team: Reviewers mention that the technical support team at TouchBistro is friendly and responsive.
What users think could be improved:
Third-party integration options: Users would like to see the tool offer free integration with QuickBooks and other payment solutions, such as Global Payments.
Who Should Use TouchBistro?
TouchBistro has all the core features of a modern POS, such as table-side ordering, menu management, staff management, and inventory management. This makes it suitable for both full-service and quick-service restaurants. The app’s mobile POS also allows you to process payments right at the table.
Restaurant owners who use iPad 9.7, iPad Pro, or the Mini 4 should look at TouchBistro, as it doesn’t run on the first generation iPad, iPad 2, or iPad 3rd/4th generation.
Toast POS: Suited for All Restaurant Types
Toast POS is a cloud-based, all-in-one POS that’s designed specifically for restaurants. It helps restaurateurs and staff take orders, track item availability on the menu, check inventory, and make sales. Toast POS suits all types of food service businesses, including bars, quick-service, and full-service restaurants.
Servers can take orders, send them to the kitchen, and process payments table-side using Toast’s handheld tablets. Toast’s Quick Order functionality lets users create new orders instantly, while the Quick Edit Mode allows staff to edit the menu. Track food and liquor costs, and more.
Toast offers a loyalty program to reward your most frequent customers and allows you to generate, accept, and sell gift cards (both digital and physical). Its reports can help you analyze the best sellers on your menu and other details such as total guests, table turn time, tips, and net sales.
Toast POS runs on only Android mobile devices or tablets, through which you can also integrate online ordering, offer gift cards, and run data-driven loyalty programs. Order management and status view in Toast POS (Source)
Common User Feedback Trends
Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra from POS users in the restaurant industry, here’s an overview of the areas of Toast POS they like best and those that could be improved.
What users like:
Helpful back-office functions: Users mention that the tool’s back-office functionality allows them to meet standard operating requirements such as bookkeeping, accounts payable, and payroll.
Support for online ordering: Reviewers liked the fact that Toast POS supports online ordering.
What users think could be improved:
iOS compatibility: Users would like to see the tool offer an iOS app so that they can use it on their iPads as well.
Who Should Use Toast POS?
Toast POS works for all types of small food establishments that have a limited budget but want a fully customizable POS than can track inventory and food costs, give a breakdown of sales and payments, and handle most of their accounting needs.
The tool is also an ideal choice for restaurateurs that want loyalty programs, gift cards, and online ordering integrated with the POS. Toast POS is also a good solution for Android users.
This apples-to-apples comparison is intended to help you choose the right POS for your restaurant that meets your unique business needs. Most POS solutions offer a free trial period that lasts anywhere from 14 to 60 days. Be sure to sign up for these free trials and demos to see which solution meets your needs the best.
Capterra recommends that you evaluate between three and five systems as you research software tools. You can check out more POS solutions on Capterra’s POS software directory page. Read reviews and filter products by rating, features, and more.
The solutions highlighted in this article are the POS software systems for restaurants that have the highest average overall user rating from restaurateurs and other restaurant staff at the time of writing. For this article, we evaluated 77 POS software systems and a total of approximately 550 user reviews on Capterra’s website, exclusively from restaurant owners and staff.
Here’s an overview of our method for choosing this list of top-rated apps:
We analyzed reviews from users that are either restaurateurs or restaurant staff and shortlisted those products that had 4+ out of five stars with a minimum of 20 user reviews.
From that list, we considered only those which are listed on Capterra.
The “common user feedback” sections include “what users like” and ” what users think could be improved” for each product, based on feedback from users who left reviews.
The “who should use this software” section is a summary of analysis conducted on the general comments from software users. This section highlights the most popular features of the software product and recommends who should consider buying that product and why.
In fact, people hate waiting so much that many companies offer ways to avoid it. Magical theme parks offer fast passes that let you skip long lines. Airlines offer the opportunity to board before everyone else for an extra fee. Order-ahead apps offer a way to beat the dinner rush at your favorite restaurant.
It’s no different for your B2B business. Online customers hate waiting for websites to load.
If you don’t find ways to speed up your site, users will leave. On your mobile site, especially, the likelihood of users experiencing outside interruptions increases and the importance of page speed magnifies.
When discussing mobile page speed, the magic number seems to be three seconds or less.
That’s the amount of time you have for your page to load before most users will leave your site entirely. For businesses, more bounces on your mobile page mean fewer conversions and lost revenue.
If you want to see for yourself, Google’s Impact Calculator will show you how improving your mobile site speed could impact your revenue.
So what can be done to help improve your website’s page speed? Below are six ways to move the needle.
Improve page speed with these 6 tips
Though all of these tips are useful for improving page speed (especially on mobile sites), we’ll spend the most time on reducing image size because of the variety of image types out there. Cutting down your image size is the easiest way to speed up your site.
If you already know how to reduce image size, or you don’t really use images on your site, jump to tip two.
1. Reduce image size
The average mobile webpage is 2.2 MB, and 68% of that is from images. That’s bad news; a website shouldn’t be larger than 1 MB.
Compress your images
The best practice for mobile is to aim for an overall page weight of less than 500 KB. To get there, you can compress images and remove unnecessary metadata from raster images.
There are a few types of website images to consider when prioritizing what you’re going to compress:
Background images: This one’s pretty obvious. Make sure they’re serving a purpose if they’re increasing your page speed.
Screenshots: Don’t let enthusiastic product teams talk you into compression forgetfulness, as you can still achieve both quality and smaller image size.
Logos, icons, and branded images: These tend to be easily overlooked since they appear to be small on the page. However some can be carelessly uploaded as large file sizes.
A few tools you can use to compress images are TinyPNG, Compressor.io, GIMP, and Photoshop. In Photoshop, you can adjust your image size by using either the “Save for Web” or “Export As” options.
Use the appropriate file type for images
As a rule, JPEG images are better for page speed because they’re more compressible. Use JPEGs when you can, especially for photographic images.
However, PNGs are better for simple-color images where crisp lines are needed, as the quality loss with compression on a JPEG file might be too great. Generally, software screenshots should be PNGs, but be sure to test which is best in terms of both quality and page speed.
Finally, SVG files are the best format for multi-device viewing because they’re resolution- and scale-independent. But keep in mind that SVG images are only the best option if the code to support them is lighter than or equivalent to other options. In general, logos are usually a great option for the SVG format.
Upload images at the appropriate file size
Best practice for image size depends on your site. For example, Shopify recommends that image files on an eCommerce website be less than 70 KB.
Capterra analyzed dozens of software websites to offer you some insights for the best B2B software screenshot size.
We focused on screenshot images of the software’s desktop view and only included them if:
It is as close to an actual view of the platform as possible—meaning it is not “cartoonized” or simplified with graphic shapes, etc.
It is as close to the whole view of a desktop screen as possible—not cropped down
The text within the screenshot is still decipherable—the quality is still good enough to read the majority of the text instead of being blurred out
These screenshot characteristics were chosen because they give a baseline for what the high end of an image’s size should be. Desktop version images are more complex than a mobile screenshot of your software. Legible text images indicate the screenshot takes up a good portion of space on the web page.
Below are two examples that demonstrate these characteristics:
A screenshot of Airtable, a spreadsheet and database software (Source)
A screenshot of Pipedrive, a CRM solution (Source)
The average size of the B2B software screenshots analyzed was 211 KB, which is nearly half of the suggested maximum of 500 KB for overall page weight.
We also analyzed these same screenshots on the mobile version of the software company’s website.
Bad news for mobile load times on B2B sites: Far fewer than half of these websites served up different file sizes for their mobile pages. Most either used the same file size as they did for their desktop sites, or removed the image entirely.
For those that did use a smaller image size on their mobile site, the average file size was 54.1 KB.
Keep in mind that there are lots of ways to display screenshot images, and it’s up to you to run tests to see which images resonate most with your users.
For example, you may opt not to show screenshots but to instead use icons or make your screenshots appear more cartoon-like. You can also crop and zoom to make it easier to digest a particular feature.
Finally, you could also opt to provide screenshots that blur certain elements, such as text, to better highlight what the software looks like and how it will perform.
However, make sure that you aren’t sacrificing the ability to build credibility in front of prospects or losing an advantage over competitors who are offering ungated, high-quality screenshots to build their brands.
One last tip related to image size: Try to upload images as close to the size that they’ll appear on your site as possible. For example, if an image is going to appear as 280 pixels wide, don’t upload it at 1,500 pixels wide.
2. Reduce the number of resources on a page
Conduct an audit of your website’s resources to make sure you’re only displaying the most relevant and valuable content and images to your prospects and customers.
Elements or resources such as moving carousels, for example, are saturated with navigation images and options. Having multiple screenshots of your software on the same page is another example of content that starts out as useful but can quickly become overwhelming.
Using too many of these images increases your page load time and decreases the effectiveness of the “snapshot” purpose they were meant to serve.
However, don’t start removing content left and right. Have a conversation between your webmaster, product, and marketing teams to get consensus before removing anything.
3. Don’t host video on your site
After this image discussion, you might think that removing video will save you a ton of space. But videos still offer a valuable medium for users to learn about your product.
Instead, to save space, host your videos on third-party sites such as YouTube, Wistia, or Vimeo instead of uploading them directly to your site.
4. Reduce font size
Reduce the number of different types of fonts on the page and consider using Google Fonts or Adobe Typekit.
Why? Fonts served by the Google Fonts API are automatically compressed. Once they’re downloaded, they’re cached in the browser and reused by any other web page that uses the Google Fonts API.
5. Improve your site’s code
Clean up your site code to improve page speed (Source)
Only resources that are absolutely necessary to convey your value proposition to users should be marked as critical. Hopefully, these resources are already positioned above the fold on your site. You can use lazy loading for below-the-fold elements and other images and data that aren’t needed in your initial page render.
Finally, run an audit of all of your tracking pixels to remove anything that’s no longer needed and make sure all of your teams—especially the marketing and product teams—don’t add tracking pixels without considering their impact on page speed. One helpful tip to keep in mind is that, even though some tools recommend a pixel be fired upon page load, it’s not always necessary. Where it makes sense, consider changing the default firing to when it’s DOM-ready or when the window is loaded.
As marketers, we need crucial reporting metrics to continue allocating marketing budgets wisely and optimizing lead gen elements such as CTAs. However, that doesn’t mean we should go overboard with them. Marketing should be cognizant of the increase in page speed that might result from adding images, data, or code to a particular page and weigh the potential leads lost because of slower load speeds against potential leads gained.
6. Consider a few other speed improvement areas
Other improvement areas include caching your website resources appropriately based on how frequently they get updated or whether they’re more static, such as some images, PDFs, etc. You can reduce your server response time by ensuring you have the right hosting service.
Finally, consider using a CDN that can cache your site on global servers. CDNs enable you to process requests on servers that are geographically closer to your end-user with the goal of providing high availability and high performance. Crazy Egg has a great discussion of some of these options, which is much more in-depth than we’re going to go here.
Improving page speed is easy … and necessary
We’ve given you a lot of information to work with here, but improving your page speed doesn’t have to be daunting.
Though you might have to make tweaks to your site based on some of our suggestions, you can also use these guidelines to create standards and norms for your site content going forward.
These steps are also necessary to complete if you want to be properly prepared for upcoming Google updates—which we’ve outlined in this article—and ultimately, if you want to win more leads.
When going through this process, be sure to include all your subject-area experts. For example, a marketer, designer, or product team member can easily review images on your website, a developer can look at code, and leadership teams can communicate priority initiatives which can be translated into a more hierarchical approach to your web pages (e.g., removing above-the-fold clutter will speed up your website without sacrificing essential resources).
Do you have any other page speed related questions or want to share a page speed improvement at your company? Leave me—and your peers!—a comment below.
Did you know there’s a name for those little chips that have shown up on debit and credit cards in the past few years? They’re called EMV chips—it’s an acronym that stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, which are the three companies that kicked the whole thing off.
The technology dates all the way back to the ’90s, but EMV chips didn’t go mainstream in the U.S. until recently thanks to various compliance deadlines set by companies in 2016, 2017, and beyond. (Gas stations have until 2020 to get with the program, for example.)
So what does all of this EMV chip compliance mean for restaurant owners in 2018? Let’s start at the beginning.
What are EMV chips and how do they work?
When it comes to using chipped cards, instead of swiping the magnetic stripe, cards are inserted chip-first into readers to start the transaction. It’s a different means to the same, albeit more secure, end.
“[The chip] has the same information as the magnetic stripe on your old card, but creates a unique code that gets reorganized with each purchase,” John Krauss, Discover’s senior manager for card payment and reinsurance strategy, told Gizmodo.
While EMV cards are a security measure designed to decrease counterfeit purchases, according to a National Restaurant Association Report, EMV chips only guarantee that a specific card is a legitimate card (as opposed to a counterfeit one). As the report says, the “back-end processing remains the same. The card number will still be sent unencrypted and is still susceptible to hacking.”
So, they’re a more secure solution, but not an entirely secure solution.
Even though all of this is going on behind the scenes, much of your daily business life will remain the same—you’ll be offering up goods and taking credit card payments like you always have. What is different, though, is where the liability falls when chargebacks occur.
Understanding the liability shift
The transition to EMV chips represents a change in liability from the processor (credit card company) to the merchant (your restaurant), which means that you may be on the hook for any fraudulent charges.
As Upserve lays out in its guide on EMV cards, when it comes to settling fraudulent charges “whoever is the least EMV-compliant in a card-present situation is the one liable for fraud.”
Here’s how it works:
If your customer uses an EMV card and you have a chip-compliant terminal, the card issuer is liable for chargebacks.
If your customer uses a card that doesn’t have a chip and swipes it at your terminal, the issuer is liable.
If your customer has an EMV card, but you’re still using a terminal that only allows for magnetic swipes (i.e., isn’t EMV-compliant), you’re liable for charges over $25.
So, while restaurants aren’t required to make the switch to EMV chips, there are some pretty severe downsides to choosing not to, and EMV chips are only becoming more and more common.
But there’s a silver lining: the answer is as simple as your POS system.
Point of sale systems and EMV chips
What can restaurant owners do to protect themselves in an environment that is transitioning more liability to merchants rather than credit card companies? The most straightforward solutions lie in your POS system.
If you have a legacy, in-house POS system (the larger, on-premise terminals) and you’re determined to keep it that way, the best way to protect yourself against chargeback liability is by investing in a third-party EMV reader.
Costs will include original hardware that can run up to several hundred dollars, service and support fees throughout, and any one-off costs associated with updates and extra training you and your staff will have to undergo.
Cloud-based restaurant POS systems, on the other hand, offer a much more manageable switch. If you’ve been thinking about changing to a more technologically advanced POS system anyway, an accessible path to EMV compliance is a significant selling point. Cloud-based solutions often include integrated EMV solutions, plus software updates happen with the tap of a button.
Another bonus of cloud-based POS systems is that they offer more options and access to encryption and tokenization services which are the best way that restaurant owners can protect themselves against fraud. Remember, EMV’s only ensure that a card is authentic—they don’t guarantee that data is safe. These tech advances add increased data security for both restaurants and their customers in an age where hacking happens often.
Ultimately, the choice is yours
You get to decide what’s best for you and your restaurant.
Whether it’s EMVs, encryption, or the next wave of advancements, the best way to protect yourself is with knowledge. The more you know about what’s going on (in this case, EMV chips), the better decisions you can make.
Want to arm yourself with a little more knowledge about POS solutions for your restaurant? Here’s some further reading to beef up your education: