2023's Best Cloud-Based Point of Sale Systems for Restaurants

Priyanka Bhadani9/19/2022

What are point of sale systems?

A point of sale (POS) system is a hardware and software setup that businesses use to track customer orders and process payments. A POS system can do many things, including keeping track of inventory levels, storing customer information, and generating reports.

What's a Cloud-based POS System?

From a traditional point of view, a point of sale system is a cash register used to record and process sales transactions. They are designed for use in retail environments, such as stores, restaurants, and hotels. Business owners use this hardware and software solution to take customer orders and process payments. In addition, many POS systems include inventory management, customer tracking, and report generation. A legacy POS system typically includes a computer, monitor, cash drawer, receipt printer, barcode scanner, and credit card reader.

A cloud based POS system is an advanced version of the legacy POS system. It offers all the services of traditional POS software, and then more.

A traditional POS system is installed on a physical server at the business location, while a cloud basedPOS system is hosted remotely and accessed via the internet. Cloud-based POS systems are typically more expensive than traditional ones, but they offer many benefits, such as increased flexibility, quick scalability, and greater reliability. One of the main advantages of a cloud-based POS system is that one can access it from anywhere with an internet connection, which makes it ideal for businesses with multiple locations or mobile businesses.

Traditional POS systems require a one-time processing fees annually for the software license, plus an annual maintenance fee. Cloud-based POS systems are subscription services with monthly or yearly fees. Furthermore, a traditional POS system must be manually installed on each new device you want to use (for example, if you get a new register), but a cloud based POS can be quickly set up and used on any internet-connected device without installing anything. Additionally, with a cloud based POS system, new features are automatically pushed out to users as soon as they're available. In the case of a legacy POS system, you have to wait for the software vendor to release new features and then manually install them yourself.

In the last three years, or after the debilitating effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the restaurant industry, many business owners chose to automate several processes. It helped them in two ways -- to deal with the shortage of staff resulting from the pandemic, and to transition to operational tasks with minimal contact to follow social distancing norms. Several technologies have been put to use during this time, with cloud based point of sale systems being one of them.

The best restaurant point of sale systems offered zero-touch payment processing, multi-channel order processing, and real-time reporting and analytics, in addition to other useful features. Given their quick and universal adoption, it's no surprise then to learn that Fortune Business Insights anticipates the global POS market size to reach $26.61 billion by 2028 (as compared to $9.95 billion in 2021) at a CAGR of 15.1%.

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Advantages of a Cloud-based POS System

A cloud-based point-of-sale system offers several advantages over a legacy system. One of its most important benefits is that a cloud based system is easier to set up and maintain, as there are no updates or patches to install and no server to manage. This proves to be a significant cost-saver for businesses, especially cash-strapped small businesses.

In addition, the best point of sale systems also provide real time reporting and analysis so business owners can track sales and performance more effectively and grow the business quickly.

Let's look at some of its features in detail-

  • Increased flexibility and scalability- With a cloud-based point-of-sale system, businesses can scale up or down without worrying about the associated costs and infrastructure changes. For example, Revel Systems' cloud based POS solution replaces expensive and bulky legacy solutions with an intuitive and quick iOS-based point of sale platform. It combines cloud based tech and the iPad's mobility features.
  • Improved security- Cloud based systems typically have stronger security measures than on-premise solutions. Service providers can invest more in their security infrastructure and stay up-to-date with the latest threats.
  • Easy integration- The best point of sale systems easily integrate with a business's other software platforms, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), inventory management, and accounting. It helps create a central database of customer information -- monitoring customer data and maintaining a relationship with them is now easier. It helps provide better customer support services as well.
  • Improved customer service- The use of a cloud based system allows a restaurant's management to swiftly manage customer profiles with real time access to sales and purchase data. One can customize emails and messages to inform customers of new developments, events, festival offers, special discounts, menu changes, and more. Integration with CRM software also helps manage customer loyalty programs, tailor discounts and promotions, and develop a customer-facing approach. A quality cloud based POS also comes equipped with features that can help streamline payment processing, such as self-checkouts and automated order fulfillment. It also allows several payment methods, from processing of credit cards to mobile wallet payments. These features not only save customer time but also free up staff time so they can provide better assistance elsewhere in the store.
  • Higher uptime- Because cloud based systems are not reliant on local hardware, they are less susceptible to issues affecting on-premise systems, such as power outages or hardware failures, which results in higher uptime for businesses using cloud based solutions.
  • Reduced IT costs- Cloud based solutions often require less investment in IT infrastructure and personnel since the service provider handles upkeep and maintenance responsibilities, which can help in significant cost-saving over time.
  • Greater mobility- With a cloud based solution, business owners can provide employees with access to the POS system from anywhere, if they have an internet connection. It allows for a more mobile workforce and helps facilitate work-from-home arrangements or other remote work setups. For instance, the retail POS system Shopify POS lets a business owner view and manage their store's orders directly from the mobile app without any additional setup.
  • Enhanced reporting and analytics- Cloud based POS systems offer improved reporting features that give business owners greater visibility into their operation's performance. The data can be used to make informed decisions about various aspects of the business, from pricing strategies to employee productivity.
  • Backup in case of emergency- With an on-premise point of sale system, if something goes wrong with the hardware locally, it could take days or even weeks to get things back up and running again. However, since data is stored off-site with a cloud based solution, a backup is always available should anything happen to the primary power source.
  • Automatic software updates- One of the major benefits of using any cloud-based software is that updates happen automatically, so a business owner doesn't have to deal with them on their own. It ensures they always have access to the latest features and security patches.

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Top Cloud based POS SystemsNo. 1- Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed Restaurant POS is an iPad-run system. It allows a business to design a user experience that is smooth and trouble-free with an intuitive, easy, and clean interface. Setting up the Lightspeed Restaurantretail POS is elementary. This system can work with just an iPad, cash drawer, printers, and a payment terminal.

Some of its features include-

  • Lightspeed point of sale software can be used for every type of restaurant -- small and mid-sized to larger, complex setups.
  • It integrates seamlessly with several add-ons, including self-ordering kiosks, inventory management, workforce management software, and more. Its flexibility eliminates the need for several different systems for operations.
  • Lightspeed Retail's hardware products aren't cheap. But the good thing is that business owners are not required to buy every hardware solution from the company. With an open source code, it is compatible with third party hardware (it provides a list of hardware it supports when you opt for its services). Its open source lets you modify the software as needed. You can also customize it for specific functions.
  • Lightspeed offers 24X7 customer support.
The price of Lightspeed hardware is quote-based. It comes with a 14-day free trial. Once the free trial period is up, it offers its single POS register at $39 per month. Additional registers come at $39per month per device.

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Top Cloud based POS SystemsNo. 2- Plum POS

A growing restaurant business must implement software solutions that simplify and streamline operations. PlumPOS can help achieve just that. Plumpos is easy to use and facilitates quick and efficientpayment processing. It helps cashiers and wait staff reduce time spent on the screen and engage more with customers.

Here are some of the features of PlumPOS that make it one of the best restaurant point of sale systems to consider.
  • It integrates cloud and touchscreen technology into a single easy to use platform, making the customer experience seamless.
  • It is easy to operate without any formal training.
  • Most restaurants use various software solutions for different functions. Multiple systems and numerous login IDs may create confusion. Plum POS easily integrates with third party software via Plum AnyConnector, a bridging platform.
  • Plum POS also easily syncs with other Plum products like Plum Kiosk, Plum Digital Signage, and Plum Handheld. These peripherals give businesses flexibility and options to advertise specials, create customer reward or loyalty programs, and enable staff to accept mobile payments.
  • Plum POS is easy to set up. It is user-friendly and easy to use, so you don't have to waste time training employees on how to use it. It has a few pre-set workable menus for different restaurant formats that allow you to get started with transactions almost as soon as you set up.
  • PlumPOS lets a business owner or manager access sales data in real time, thanks to its cloud based system. It helps make time-efficient business decisions for different locations, irrespective of whether or not you are on site.
  • Oder efficiency is of utmost importance for a restaurant business. Quick point of sale transaction, faster generation of e-bills, and error-free relaying of orders to the kitchen is key to a successful business. Ideally, a POS system should disseminate this information in seconds. It is important because customers can sometimes change orders, but they still expect timely delivery. An efficient POS system like PlumPOS saves time, ensures order accuracy, and helps generate repeat business.
The Plum POS starter bundle comes at $1302.98 and includes a POS terminal, credit card reader, and cash drawer.

Top Cloud based POS SystemsNo. 3- Toast POS

Toast is another great POS system that runs on touchscreen devices like tablets, handhelds, and computers. It has several payment options that are viable for restaurants of all sizes. Because it comes with features that make it easy for small-scale restaurants to accept, manage, track, and prioritize food orders, it is one of the preferred point of sale for small businesses. Let's look at some of its features-

  • Toast POS has a pay-as-you-go option. The feature helps small businesses get started without a large investment.
  • It has inventory tracking features to help business owners monitor inventory, manage vendors and keep ingredients available for high-demand menu items.
  • Its advanced reporting and analytics features help operators monitor sales and customer preferences and identify items that sell more or are underperforming to make suitable business decisions.
  • With a touchscreen monitor and handheld, customers can place their orders in several ways with this restaurant POS, including ordering online, faster credit card processing and mobile payment options. After placing the order, the connected custom-built kitchen display screen (a part of the POS hardware bundle) ensures that orders are efficiently prepared and delivered.
  • Toast has several additional features, including email marketing, a loyalty program, scheduling and payroll systems, and reporting and analytics (including real time sales and guest feedback).
  • Integration with third party services -- like food delivery apps Grubhub and DoorDash -- or even table reservation services like OpenTable or Tock is easy with Toast.

Toast's pricing for POS hardware is quote-based. In addition, it has custom POS software packages. It also has a free trial version.

Top Cloud based POS SystemsNo. 4- Square for Restaurants

Square for Restaurants, a cloud-based POS system, makes it easy for you to start your business immediately. It has features that cater to both quick-service restaurants and full-service outlets. In addition, it is easy to scale up with Square. Let's see how-

  • As your business grows, this point of sale for restaurants makes it easy to customize the user interface and add menu items with descriptions and photos.
  • This restaurant point of sale allows you to enter your floor plan into the system, enabling you to make quick table deliveries.
  • It enables you to cancel order tickets without trouble, and assign orders not just to tables, but to individual seats.
  • Square POS integrates with the kitchen display unit at no extra cost.
  • Its advanced reporting tools help a business owner easily analyze sales data.
  • It has a 24X7 customer support service. This is helpful because you know you have support to get out of a jam at any time.
  • Square POS has two plans -- free and paid. A business owner can create a website through Square online with the free version. It offers online ordering options and supports tips. It also notifies servers if an item is out of stock. Its basic reporting tools help make better business decisions.
The free version of Square POS has limited features. On the other hand, the paid plan, Restaurant Plus, costs $60 a month for one device and $40 per month per device on the account. Other add-ons like card readers or Kitchen Display Units are available at an additional cost. The hardware starts at $299.

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Top Cloud based POS SystemsNo. 5- TouchBistro

This is a cloud basedPOS system that caters specifically to the restaurant business. TouchBistro's POS system helps with menu design, table management, staff scheduling, and inventory management.

  • With Touchbistro, a business owner can also custom-design online ordering, customer loyalty programs, and gift cards at an additional cost.
  • TouchBistro's features come in handy in a busy restaurant environment. It enables you to monitor multiple cash drawers effortlessly.
  • Its add-on products include employee management, inventory management, and customer relationship management, which integrate seamlessly with this restaurant point of sale system.
  • The table management software of TouchBistro helps a restaurant operator manage and change floor plans whenever needed. For example, its tableside ordering system allows a manager to group certain tables or even move customers from one table to another without delay.
  • It has an easy to use interface, which lets operators modify menu items or make changes to the menu instantly.
This point of sale system's basic plan begins at $69 per month. It has several plans and hardware support systems that are quote-based.

Choosing a point of sale system that caters to your specific needs is always a wise decision. When running a business, your choice of hardware and software matters the most. The best point of sale systems should be able to anticipate a business's needs and run on autopilot. They should also empower you to make better business decisions with their reporting and data analytics tools. Every business is different, and your POS system should be able to adjust to your needs without having you break into a sweat.