Whether you’re running a retail store or a food service establishment, chances are you’d need to perform a range of management, administrative, and marketing tasks. Aside from preparing a sales report, you’ll also need to ensure that you have enough supplies by checking the inventory. And then, there’s the quality of service to your customers as well as the monitoring of your employees’ performance.
Fortunately, there is one way that you can do all these more efficiently: a point-of-sale system. More commonly referred to as “POS,” this system can help ensure that your restaurant operations run smoothly.
This article aims to answer the top five questions about point-of-sale systems, particularly those involving the foodservice sector.
1. What is a point-of-sale (POS) system?
A point-of-sale system is a place where customers make payments for products and services acquired from an establishment. For restaurants, it is where your guests pay for the food they ordered. In this case, the completion of a food order marks the completion of a point-of-sale transaction.
But while it is usually used for sales, POS systems can also serve as the central nervous system of a business. This means that it can have several other features that aid in processes within the company. It can include customer management, inventory, employee management, analytics, and reporting.
2. What is the difference between a cloud-based and on-premise POS?
There are two main types of POS systems: on-premise and cloud-based. The key difference between the two is the underlying technology used to operate them.
An on-premise system has actual hardware installed as servers within the place of business to connect all the POS units together. While this system is very outdated, there are still merchants who prefer it over cloud-based due to the change it can bring to the entire business operations.
The newer cloud-based POS, on the other hand, makes use of the cloud-saving technology that allows data to be shared across all POS units through an offsite server. A third-party data center runs the POS server and ensures that all data are safe and secure.
One example of this is the iPad POS system (more on this later). There are also specific types of software available in the market that can do more than inventory and sales management. These can also assist in managing restaurant tables, serving as a menu, and even acting as a customer service platform for online clients.
3. Why do I need a POS system?
While the benefits of the POS system are quite evident, studies show that many retailers still refuse to use it. Rather than going for an all-in-one system, these businesses choose to combine manual data gathering, QuickBooks, Excel, and cash registers to consolidate point-of-sale data.
Based on studies, this is because many business owners find it difficult – and scary – to implement new technology into the central business process.
But, without POS, restaurants and other retail businesses run the risk of slowed operations. They might also encounter loss of crucial data, not to mention a disorganized insight on inventory and supply management. Some POS software can even provide analytics that can help restaurant owners predict customer behavior as well as integration with the cloud-based accounting program Xero.
4. What are the hardware components of POS systems?
The hardware components of on-premise and cloud-based POS systems differ as well. Cloud-based point-of-sale runs on more advanced hardware while on-premise POS usually requires bulky touchscreen POS terminals that are often proprietary and expensive.
As mentioned earlier, cloud-based POS can be accessed through an iPad or an Android tablet. There are even those that can be modified to work using desktop or laptop computers.
But key differences aside, here are the five hardware components every restaurant POS system should have:
Touchscreen Monitor or Tablet Screen
This essentially serves as a way for restaurant staff and managers to view, input, and use data.
This automates the checkout process through the use of embedded data on the barcodes of products. After scanning barcodes, the POS can calculate the total amount due and update inventory stock levels based on each sale.
Credit Card Reader
Businesses need to offer a variety of payment options to their customers, and one way to do this is to link a credit card reader to your POS system. A credit card reader can help you take contactless payments via EMV credit and debit cards.
For restaurants, kitchen printers are also quite useful. These printout orders are taken by waiters and provide an easy-to-read reference for the kitchen staff.
Kitchen displays serve the same purpose as a kitchen printer. Instead of a paper order, the POS system can be programmed to display orders on a monitor placed inside the kitchen.
5. What features should I look for in a POS system?
For POS systems to make your business operations run more efficiently, you need to find the best one that suits your specific needs. Among the key features that make an excellent POS system include:
Inventory management is more than just keeping count of the existing stock – it can also determine the frequency and schedule of restocking. On top of that, other tools provide extra features that are specifically tailored for restaurants and foodservice POS, including:
- “Raw goods” tracking – Tracks individual ingredients and manage inventory based on usage.
- Reorder triggers – Sends alerts when it is time to reorder more stock.
- Bulk updates – Updates ingredients or items in bulk.
Sales Reporting and Analytics
Although most POS systems allow sales monitoring, not all of these present the numbers in a way that will make assessments and decision-making easier. There are also some that lack certain details that are actually crucial for sales analytics.
In short, you must choose a POS system that not only records your sales but will also help you analyze your restaurant’s level of success and allow you to make decisions towards its long-term progress.
Another function most POS systems have is employee management. The software can also serve as a time clock that records basic information about your restaurant staff performance, particularly the hours they work. You can also input schedules and calculate payroll based on this information.
In some cases, POS systems can be used to track labor costs in relation to the sales generated by each member of your staff. This will let you know who performs best and who needs further coaching. You can also use this for more strategic scheduling of employees.
A Final Word
Point-of-sale systems provide business owners with a way to efficiently record, track, and use information about their daily operations to measure the level of success. Use this article as a guide for your restaurant, especially when deciding which POS to use and what features to look for in the software.
Ahmad Alzaini is the co-founder and CEO of Foodics, a fast-growing foodtech startup. A businessman by nature, Alzaini is an app aficionado, developing businesses in Saudi Arabia within several industries. Today, Foodics has extended to new markets across the MENA region, processing over 1 billion transactions, and offering the latest technology in POS and restaurant management.