What to Look for in a Restaurant POS App

These key features can drive efficiency and customer satisfaction

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The point of sale (POS) is a restaurant or bar’s last chance to leave a good impression on a customer. Keeping things smooth as the money changes hands is paramount to maintaining a base of loyal, repeat customers. But the humble restaurant POS app need not be so humble anymore. In addition to payment transactions, these systems can send orders straight to the kitchen, manage tables, track inventory, and provide labor reports, pushing your establishment into high gear.

Some POS systems run on dedicated hardware. Others can be downloaded straight from the Apple App Store or Google Play and run on a phone or tablet of your choosing. Any worth its salt can serve as a restaurant pay app, but the best offer a suite of features that will keep your business humming.

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Key restaurant POS app features

Intuitive interface

First and foremost, a restaurant POS app must have an intuitive interface. On the surface, this may seem like a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. Who cares how pretty the interface is as long as it works? But the truth is that the more complicated a restaurant POS app is, the more cognitive load it puts on whoever uses it. The harder it is to use, the more likely whoever uses it will take longer to complete their assigned task. They’ll also be more likely to make a mistake and take longer to train in its use.

Intuitive design is critical if your restaurant POS app includes kiosks for guests to place their own orders. Customers don’t have the benefit of training, and they’re not interested in struggling to place an order. Any roadblocks they face in ordering or payment could make the difference between bringing a crowd with them on their next visit or never returning at all. But they are interested in self-service ordering kiosks — 49% say they improve the ordering experience — and your POS needs to account for that.

Many POS systems pride themselves on their interfaces, but TouchBistro is one example of simple, intuitive design that can keep the commerce flowing.

Automatic inventory management

Inventory management is the secret sauce that can make or break a restaurant’s profit margins, but it’s a pain to maintain during the dinner rush. Failing to do so could mean running out of the salmon halfway through service or watching fresh ingredients spoil because they were over-ordered from suppliers. The right restaurant POS app can address this problem by tracking inventory in real time as guests are ordering. That can mean never again disappointing a customer who’s already placed an order for food you just don’t have.

There are other benefits, too. Keeping a finger on the pulse of your inventory means clearer timetables for ordering resupply, cutting down on theft by employees, and reducing food waste. These efficiencies add up, and restaurant operators who perform weekly turnover calculations can add up to 10% to their revenue.

Upserve may be among the more expensive restaurant POS systems currently available, but it’s also a leader in automatic inventory management.

Sales and labor reporting

In addition to tracking inventory, a restaurant pay app can keep track of what customers are ordering most (and least), providing detailed insight into which items on the menu are carrying the business and which are dragging it down. Identifying those trends allows you to optimize your offerings, giving underperformers the boot or just rearranging your menus to give them the spotlight they need to succeed. Labor reporting is just as important and just as easy to track with the right restaurant POS app. With in-depth labor reporting, you’ll spot opportunities for efficiency increases that will help pad out your earnings. That’s why a whopping 95% of restaurateurs say tech improves their business efficiency.

Focus POS offers a suite of cloud reporting and management tools that can be accessed from anywhere, making it a good fit both for single-location restaurants and larger enterprises. Users can also make menu adjustments, edit timecards, and more from home or the home office. 

Kitchen communication

The wonders of automation can also be brought to bear in the ordering process. A restaurant POS app can take the burger and fries order your customer just placed, turn it into a ticket, and send it instantly to the kitchen display system so your staff can start cooking. This speeds up the serving process, keeping customers happy and tables turning over. It also makes it easier to clearly communicate the substitutions and dietary restrictions that could otherwise cause calamity.

Most restaurant pay apps make this easy, but Toast is a favorite in the space.

Integrations

There’s no reason to scour the internet for a restaurant POS app that does it all if you already have programs in place you’re happy with. Implementing unfamiliar technology, however powerful, should always be weighed against the lost productivity your workers will experience as they get up to speed with their new toys. Luckily, many of the best restaurant POS systems can integrate seamlessly with pre-existing systems. Linga is a leading restaurant POS that takes pride in the range of its integrations, from QuickBooks to SHOGO, without sacrificing the range of its built-in functionality. 

Contactless payment

The popularity of contactless payment has exploded globally over the past few years, with 4.4 billion near-field communication transactions in the U.S. contributing to a total global payment value of $4.6 trillion in 2022. Those numbers are only going up, with 8.3 billion transactions in the U.S. expected by 2027 toward a total global value of $10 trillion. Nearly a quarter of U.S. consumers say they would be more likely to patronize a restaurant that offers contactless payment, and with 94% of smartphones in the world already outfitted with the technology, it’s easy to see why.

Contactless payment is significantly faster than traditional credit card payment — 63% according to American Express — and that’s good for customers and businesses. Quick and easy payment is as vital as dessert when it comes to leaving a good final impression on customers, and it doesn’t hurt restaurant operators to turn over tables that much faster, either. Using a restaurant pay app capable of contactless payment allows for streamlined service, and that means happier customers, happier staff, and a healthier bottom line. Square Point of Sale is one of the most popular contactless restaurant pay apps, and it’s available on both the App Store and Google Play.

As smooth as contactless payment is, CityCheers has done it one better. Our ExpressCheck feature lets customers pay their bill from their phone without having to wait for the check, making their lives easier. That means more customers served and with higher quality service, as servers aren’t bogged down ferrying checks back and forth. The CityCheers app also allows you to communicate directly with customers, perfect your loyalty offerings, and more, all while integrating seamlessly with leading restaurant POS systems. Book a demo if you’d like to learn more.