Best POS Systems for Restaurants

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Since competition in the foodservice industry intensified in 2023 – according to the National Restaurant Association – your eatery needs to put in the extra effort to be competitive in this landscape.

POS systems can be key tools to help you with that – and for our money, Square is the best POS system on the market, greatly streamlining credit card processing and stock control.

Square packs a restaurant-specific version that easily puts kitchen and front of house in conversation, and an intuitive interface, which offers massive help in those rush hours. Accordingly, it receives a high overall score of 4.7/5 in our research.

If you'd like to know more about our findings, read on to find out about other six outstanding POS systems we analyzed.

What are the top 7 POS systems for restaurants?

These are the providers we recommend based on our research. Use our cost comparison tool to find the best value service for your business

  1. Square – Best overall restaurant POS system
  2. Clover – Best for staff performance tracking
  3. Zettle – Most affordable
  4. Epos Now – Best for restaurant chains
  5. TouchBistro – Best for customer service
  6. Lightspeed – Easiest to use
  7. Toast – Best for features

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0

Clover

Zettle

Epos Now

TouchBistro

Lightspeed

Toast

Price
  • Starter – $59/month
  • Growth – $129/month
  • Optimize – $279/month
Price
  • Free: $0/month
  • Plus: $60/month
Price

$14.95-295/month

Price

$0/month

Price

Hardware averages $484 (one-off payment)

Software starts from $39 (monthly fee)

Price

From $69/month

Price

From $69/month

Price
Key Features
  • Excellent features for onboarding new staff
  • Open API means hundreds of third-party integrations
  • Manage all vendor relationships in one place
Key Features
  • Optimized floor plans
  • Kitchen display system
  • Online ordering
Key Features
  • Intuitive back office
  • Offline mode
  • Take payments & refunds over phone, email or mail
Key Features
  • Card/cash payments
  • Reports
  • Gift cards
  • Discounts
  • Staff management
Key Features
  • Accounting software integrations
  • Streamlined ordering system
  • Connect to major delivery apps
Key Features
  • Loyalty schemes
  • Table monitoring
  • Process every payment type
Key Features
  • Scalable
  • Delivery and contactless online ordering
  • Advanced insights
Key Features
  • Hardware allows for fast checkout
  • Advanced plans incorporate payroll and team scheduling tools
  • Offline mode

What is a Restaurant POS System?

Restaurant POS systems are point of sale systems that feature hospitality-focused functionality.

These systems allow restaurant staff to take payments, manage inventory, customize floor plans and place orders. More advanced systems may offer features such as online ordering, integration with delivery apps, and marketing and analytics tools.

A POS system tends to include the software subscription, as well as any hardware necessary to run your restaurant, including a payment terminal and portable card machines.

Key benefits of using a restaurant POS system include:

  • Reduced server errors
  • Faster order processes
  • Lower labor costs
  • Reduced inventory waste
  • Improvement to your business’ success through analytics

Why Do Restaurants Use POS Systems?

Restaurants use POS systems because they provide the essential equipment and software needed to take orders and payments. POS enables restaurants to streamline operations, increasing efficiency, organization, and profit. Using a POS system has many benefits, including centralizing information, running marketing campaigns, and accessing in-depth reporting.

Running a restaurant can become chaotic quickly, especially if you're short-staffed or hit with a rush of customers. A POS system can remove many pain points by connecting front and back of house, increasing order speed and efficiency, and offering bill splitting, faster transactions, and table monitoring.

1. Square: Best Overall Restaurant POS System

Square
Pricing $0/month
Quick overview

Our in-depth research found that Square is the top POS system for restaurants, as it scored high marks in several of our criteria. Square offers Square for Restaurants, a restaurant-specific POS system, packed with all the features you would need to run a restaurant. Square has a fairly straightforward and intuitive interface, a big win for those busy hours where you need to be able to take orders and payments quickly and efficiently.

Strengths

Free to install

24/7 customer support

Brilliant analytics tools

Weaknesses

2.75% charge for non-card transactions

Lacks features such as reservations and comprehensive inventory management tools

Pricing
Package Price Transaction fee
Free (Square) $0 2.6% + 10 cents in-person or 2.9% + 30 cents online
Restaurant $60/month 2.6% + 10 cents in-person or 2.9% + 30 cents online
Hardware Card readers + stand: $0 - $579
Note

As of November 2023, Square has increased its transaction fees from 1.75% to 2.6-2.9% per transaction.

How much does Square cost?

With its POS systems starting from zero dollars per month, Square is one of the best value-for-money providers on the market. Although its transaction fees have increased, they are still within a similar range to those charged by competitors. If you want a more sophisticated system, Square's dedicated Restaurant system is only $60 per month, which is cheaper than the equivalent systems from Clover and Toast, but more expensive than our value for money champion, Zettle.

Why Square is a top restaurant POS system

You can customize your menus however you like, add items to a display group, and place the best sellers on the main menu to speed up checkout times. These amendments can be made from anywhere and can be applied to all your locations. Your menu can also be updated with bulk additions, and you can even apply taxes and modifiers in bulk. All your online orders are managed on one screen, no matter who's picking up the delivery, streamlining your service.

Using Square, you can also make life easier for your staff by applying advanced discounts, giving both your customers and staff a smooth experience. Click-and-drag tools make it easy and quick for you customize your table layout, and you can also monitor every seat so you know which tables are about to turn.

Square for Restaurants offers a Plus plan, which includes a feature that enables you to add a service charge to large groups. Plus also includes the ability to share the same settings among different staff members' accounts, ensuring everyone is on the same page. A helpful feature is close of day reports so you aren't left working past your bedtime. You can pull up shift reports for each employee to ensure everything is as it should be.

The Square POS app is free, and is handy if you run a start-up or small business – however, we recommend Square for Restaurants for its restaurant-specific features. The hardware that comes alongside the software – such as a card reader and stand – are affordable, so you don't have to fork out thousands just to set up your POS system. Square is cloud-based and will run on any iPad or iPhone that has a Lightning port and runs iOS 10.0.2 or later.

Square's floor plan feature has drag-and-drop customizability. GIF: Square

How does Square compare to its competitors?

Despite cinching the number one spot, Square does lack some features, such as as reservations. If you want this feature, you'll have to integrate it into your POS system via a third party, meaning extra costs and effort. That said, Toast and Touchbistro also have this limitation.

Square also lacks comprehensive inventory management tools, unlike Epos Now. Full-service restaurants may struggle without in-built reservation tools or advanced inventory management, so Square could be a better option for limited service restaurants. Full-service restaurants might be better off with a POS system such as Lightspeed. Lightspeed is on the pricier side, however, it has been designed specifically for the restaurant industry and includes advanced restaurant features and is able to handle multi-locations.

2. Clover: Best for Staff Performance Tracking

clover logo
Clover
Pricing $799+ $54.95/mo +
Quick overview

Clover integrates a POS system, cash register and card payment terminal to give you a comprehensive system. It also includes accessories such as receipt printers and a customer interface screen.

Clover's POS system has been created for the hospitality industry so it's chock-full of features designed to provide a great experience all around. You can create custom floor plans, manage staff, streamline payments and customise orders. You can track sales in real time and run reports on the Clover dashboard or via the app. That said, Clover's inventory tools, such as low stock notifications and the ability to instantly add to or update inventory, also make it a great retail POS system.

Clover’s payment processing rates are lower compared to some other POS systems which is great, plus, users have reported that their customer service is helpful. Unfortunately, the system cannot communicate between multiple locations which is a drawback if you want all your locations to develop cohesive practices. 

Strengths

Easy to use

Intuitive back office management portal

Weaknesses

Limited reporting

Pricing
PlanQuick service dining ratesFull service dining ratesTransaction fee
Starter Inc. software and hardware $799+ $54.95/mo Inc. software and hardware $1,699+ $84.95/mo 2.3%-3.5% + 10¢
Standard Inc. software and hardware $1,799+ $54.95/mo Inc. software and hardware $2,298+ $99.90/mo 2.3%-3.5% + 10¢
Advanced Inc. software and hardware $2,398+ $69.90/mo Inc. software and hardware $4,097+ $114.85/mo 2.3%-3.5% + 10¢

How much does Clover cost?

Clover is more of an investment than lower-priced systems like Zettle and Square. It does not offer a free plan; instead, its cheapest plan starts at $799 upfront plus $54.95 per month. It's also important to note that this plan is suitable for quick-service dining eateries only, and not full-service restaurant operations. All that said, it's beneficial that Clover offers multiple tiers, as you can select a plan that is just right for your needs, meaning you won't under or overpay for your system.

Why Clover is a top restaurant POS system

Many users have noted that the interface is easy to use, so your staff don't have to deal with a difficult and clunky system. If you want to take your business online, a pre-built integration gives you the ability to launch an online store, and manage your online and in-store inventory from one dashboard.

If you want sturdy POS hardware and a payment processor, Clover is a good fit for your business. If you're in need of a more feature-rich POS software, you might be more suited to Square or Vend. Clover's payment processing rates are lower than Square's, however, although you'll still need to fork out a monthly fee.

We gave Clover's help and support provision a score of 4/5 after testing it out, thanks to the online assistance and dedicated Clover support number. This number is displayed on the Clover hardware, for easy access. But be aware that the software does only run on Android, which can be limiting if you currently use or want to use iOS devices.

Clover has an analytics dashboard that tracks several metrics to boost efficiency. Image: Clover

How does Clover compare to its competitors?

Whilst Clover's hardware is well-suited to its purpose, the software leaves a lot be desired for many users. The software is missing many functions and features that need to be added to the system via a third party app. The issue with this is that these third-party apps don't integrate with each other. For example, if you download an invoicing app and a rewards app, the system cannot accurately track this and give the customer their rewards.

Another issue is that, if you run into problems with a third party app, you'll need to deal with it with the app provider and not Clover, which can increase the amount of time it takes to resolve the issue.

POS Systems in Action

Wondering which providers are chosen by the world's biggest chains? Check out the best examples of restaurant POS systems in real businesses.

3. Zettle: Most Affordable Restaurant POS System

Zettle
Pricing From $29
Quick overview

It's no surprise that Zettle by PayPal is our top pick for an affordable POS system, because it's free! You will have to purchase the card reader to process payments, however – this is priced at around $29 for your first Zettle Card Reader 2 (plus $79 for any further readers). The free app and affordable hardware means Zettle is a great option for those focusing on staying within budget, although the POS app still packs a punch in terms of features. While Zettle lacks restaurant-focused features, it offers Zettle for Food and Drinks, which is great for start-ups and small businesses, specifically a good food truck POS system as well as cafes, and mobile eateries.

Strengths

Free POS app

Low-priced hardware

Easy to use

Weaknesses

No specialist hospitality features

No integration with CRM

Pricing
HardwareTransaction fees
Reader $29 (additional readers = $79) Card-present 2.29% + $0.09
Terminal $199 Manual card entry 3.49% + $0.09

How much does Zettle cost?

Zettle is our top scorer when it comes to pricing, with a free POS software app and affordable card machines from just $29 each. Bear in mind, however, that this is a much simpler system than those offered by Zettle's competitors. While it's not specifically designed for restaurants, Zettle can be customized to meet your needs, albeit with fewer bells and whistles than more advanced systems. However, simplicity has its advantages, so don't dismiss Zettle on that basis.

Why Zettle is a top restaurant POS system

You can access simple and real-time reporting within the app, making it easy to track sales and staff. Inventory management is made easier with the ability to organize and sync your stock – staying on top of stock levels is important to ensure you don't run into any sticky conversations with customers. Zettle's stock management features earned one of its highest scores in our user testing process: a stellar 5/5.

A key feature of the Zettle app is its simplicity. Once installed, you can be set up and ready to go within minutes, which is why Zettle scores well for usability (5/5). However, Zettle doesn't integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, which makes it difficult to run customer loyalty programs or marketing campaigns.

One of the reasons Zettle is popular is for its sleek and simple hardware. Image: Zettle

How does Zettle compare to its competitors?

Zettle scores poorly in the business management (2.8/5) and business development (2.5/5) areas as it lacks many features found in other POS systems, such as Lightspeed, Square or TouchBistro.

Square is one of Zettle's closest competitors as both offer free POS apps, however, Square's software is a lot more comprehensive offering more features and tools. Zettle is best suited to businesses that only require the bare bones of a POS system.

4. Epos Now: Best for Restaurant Chains

Epos Now
Pricing From $1,145 + $39
Quick overview

Epos Now’s restaurant POS system boasts a host of impressive features. Simple inventory management, straightforward accounting software integrations, and a slick touchscreen display make their software a dream to use.

Meanwhile, 24/7 chat support and friendly customer care agents can solve virtually any issue.

How much does Epos Now cost?

Epos Now's Full Service POS system is available for $449 for a complete restaurant management and payment system. It's possible to get a customized quote via Epos Now's sales team, or take advantage of flash sales – for example, a Black Friday deal saw this price slashed to just $99. That said, Epos Now is less transparent than other providers with regard to hidden costs and transaction fees, so it's difficult to make a definitive comparison.

Why Epos Now is a top restaurant POS system

Epos Now offers a restaurant POS system that includes features such as: inventory tracking, robust reporting tools, and connection to major delivery apps.

Its Kitchen Display System is comprehensive, and allows the kitchen to receive orders in real-time. Online orders are also added to the KDS so both in-person and online orders are dealt with efficiently. Last-minute changes can also be made to orders.

During our testing process, we scored Epos Now highly in the customer service department with a 4/5. This is because you can conveniently contact customer service via phone, email, live chat, or reach out to the Epos Now community online.

Here's a snapshot of Epos Now's menu and check interface. Image: Epos Now

How does Epos Now compare to its competitors?

With a score of 1.7/5 for price, Epos Now has the lowest score for pricing in our research because of its high fees. Core hardware and software start from $1,145 + $39 (standard) or $54 (premium) per month for software. These prices are higher than providers such as Square which has free POS software and hardware that starts from $29.

5. TouchBistro: Best for Customer Service

TouchBistro
Pricing From $69/month
Quick overview

TouchBistro scores highly in our research for help and support with a solid 5/5. Great customer service gives the tools and support you need to overcome any snags or issues that could threaten the running of your restaurant.

Strengths

Fantastic for fostering customer loyalty

Excellent staff and inventory management

Offers a free trial period

Weaknesses

Pricing plan is based on the number of users, making it more expensive for larger businesses

Only compatible with iPads and Apple computers

Automatic contract renewal

Pricing
Package Price (billed annually)
Subscription $69/month
Add-ons Dependent on chosen extra features

How much does TouchBistro cost?

TouchBistro's POS system starts from $69 per month, and includes functionalities such as taking payments, menu creation, and table management. If you also want a kitchen display, that's an extra $19 per month, while a reservation management system will cost you a pricey $229 per month. While TouchBistro offers great, fit-for-purpose restaurant features, before long, these add-ons can rack up a significant monthly investment.

Why TouchBistro is a top restaurant POS system

Table management tools empower you and your staff to provide your customers with a seamless service by monitoring factors such as distances, spend, and time seated. You can access the system from a smartphone, so orders can be taken tableside with all the necessary notes and amendments and be sent to the kitchen. TouchBistro scores well in the business and stock management areas, we gave it a 5/5 in both categories during our hands-on testing.

The system is simple, intuitive, and flexible, making it easy to use. The system is fast and able to cope with a high volume of orders without slowing down or affecting service. Some users have reported that TouchBistro's card machine is too small and difficult to use. You can use a third-party card reader, but these don't tend to integrate well, causing delays, which can be time-consuming.

TouchBistro shows a visual breakdown of reservations complete with name, party size and a countdown to arrival. Image: TouchBistro

How does TouchBistro compare to its competitors?

TouchBistro gives you the option to add on features to create one comprehensive platform, including reservations, marketing, online ordering, and gift cards. These come at a cost, and compared to lots of other POS systems where these features are included, this can add up price-wise. You can get a free quote on the TouchBistro website, which can help you assess your options and whether or not this is an affordable system for you. If you're keen to use a system where you receive tons of customer support, it may be worth it, however the core system is a little lacking in features.

TouchBistro does not offer a free trial so you can test out whether or not you're happy with the interface and features, which can make it harder to decide whether or not this is the right system for your restaurant. Once you've signed a contract with TouchBistro, it's difficult to opt out. Failure to alert TouchBistro with written notice 30 days prior to your desire to end the contract means you get locked into another contractual period.

Find the right POS system for your business with our comparison tool

6. Lightspeed: Easiest Restaurant POS to Use

lightspeed logo
Lightspeed
Pricing From $69/month
Quick overview

Lightspeed's restaurant-focused POS system is bursting with features to manage your operations more smoothly. Scoring a 4.3/5 overall, Lightspeed takes second place in the best POS for restaurant race.

Strengths

Easy to use

Powerful and scalable solution

Weaknesses

No live chat support

No offline credit card payments

Add-on features can be costly

Pricing
Package PriceWhat you get Transaction fees
Lean $69 per month 1 register, inventory, reporting & analytics, 24/7 support, dedicated account manager 2.6%+ 10c
Standard $119 per month everything above plus loyalty and gift cards 2.6%+ 10c
Advanced $199 per month everything above plus advanced insights and advanced inventory 2.6%+ 10c
Enterprise Custom everything above plus custom onboarding, better transaction fees, and more.

How much does Lightspeed cost?

Like TouchBistro, Lightspeed's plans start at $69, which is more expensive than competitors Zettle, Clover, and Square. Its plans are split into three neat tiers with clearly defined specs for what's included at each price point. At $199 per month, Lightspeed's Advanced system is more expensive than comparable plans from competitors. For reference, Clover's Advanced plan costs $69.90 per month, while Toast's Growth plan is priced at $165 per month.

Why Lightspeed is a top restaurant POS system

You can integrate delivery and contactless online ordering, diversifying your revenue streams and expanding your restaurant's reach and customer base. Online orders are consolidated one one screen, so your kitchen can work efficiently.

You can adjust your floor plan and move tables on the Lightspeed app so you can make any last minute adjustments, ensuring your staff are immediately aware of any changes. Items can transferred to a different table, seat or floorplan, giving your customers a great experience. Your customers can order by course or seat and split the bill with ease. We found these features really convenient, so rated Lightspeed a near-perfect 4.5/5 in our research process.

Direct Order Mode is also available, so you can take orders and payments quickly.

Lightspeed's reporting functions make it easy for you to see what's working and what's not, so you can quickly adjust and make the necessary changes. Lightspeed Payments is integrated into the platform, so your customers can pay with a credit or debit card and mobile payments. However, in order to use Lightspeed Payments, you have to purchase a specific card machine, incurring extra cost or inconvenience if it's not your preferred choice. Your payment reports sync to your back office so you have easy access to your numbers. Lightspeed also boasts an expert team who can give you advice on chargeback management and fraud assistance.

Lightspeed is scalable, making it a great option for businesses who expect to expand. You can start out with a less comprehensive system, but as your restaurant grows, the system can grow alongside it. This means you don't pay for features you don't need.

Lightspeed allows servers to place orders according to seat for a high-end, detail-oriented service. Image: Lightspeed

How does Lightspeed compare to its competitors?

Lightspeed is flexible, but the number of options, add-ons, and integrations means it can take a long time to set up and get used to, making it difficult for those who lack tech experience. The add-on features come at a cost, which can add up to make it an expensive option.

Lightspeed's POS app is accessed via an iPad, making it convenient, flexible, and efficient. However, you may want to opt for a system that has purpose-built hardware, such as Toast. Restaurant-grade hardware is typically stronger, more durable, and built to withstand factors such as a very hot kitchen.

7. Toast: Best for Features

Toast
Pricing From $0
Quick overview

Toast boasts a ton of features, and we love the unique offerings that make it stand apart from other POS systems, scoring a 3.7/5 overall. Toast caters to many different restaurant types such as fine dining, casual dining, food trucks, pizza, and hotel restaurants.

Strengths

Offline mode

Customizable

Weaknesses

Customer service

Only runs on Android

Pricing
Package Price
Quick Start Bundle $0
Core $69/month
Restaurant Basics Package $110/month + $4/month per employee
Growth $165/month
Build Your Own Custom

How much does Toast cost?

Toast's Quick Start Bundle is a huge draw, as it enables smaller businesses to benefit from a professional POS system without the need for financial investment. In case it's a hit, Toast's more expensive tiers are reasonably priced and in line with its competitors Clover and TouchBistro, with its Core plan starting at $69 per month.

Why Toast is a top restaurant POS system

Toast Go® is a handheld device that increases order efficiency. The Toast Go® is extremely durable as it's spill, drop, and dustproof. With a 24-hour battery life and a processing speed that's up to three times as fast as the previous model, your customers and staff are in for a smooth experience.

Square's free POS app is a type of handheld POS system that can be used on smartphones. In comparison, the Toast Go is a lot more expensive although it has the advantage of being made from durable material, handy for restaurant environments. During our testing process, we scored Toast's hardware slightly higher than Square's, with a 4.1/5 compared to Square's 4/5.

Toast's Kitchen Display System is key to running an efficient and tight ship. Everyone in the kitchen can have visibility on the KDS, and all the info they need to provide a seamless service. Toast claims that its self-ordering kiosks reduce wait times. These kiosks give customers the freedom to customize their orders and pay with a contactless form of payment.

Online ordering is made commission-free with the tools offered by Toast. Online orders can be integrated into the POS system so your kitchen can seamlessly prepare in-person and online orders. Toast also offers a customer relationship management (CRM) system, giving you the tools to develop a relationship with your customers. The CRM system gives you marketing tools such as restaurant-specific email templates, automated campaigns, and the ability to build an email list. That said, some users have reported that the syncing is not always accurate, which can mean information such as inventory levels is incorrect.

Despite being our features winner, Toast maintains simplicity with its hardware and interface. Image: Toast

How does Toast compare to its competitors?

Toast offers tons of features helpful for managing a restaurant, however its customer service is reported by users as being fairly slow. This can cause major hiccups, especially in a fast-paced environment.

Plus, Toast POS only runs on Android, which can be a drawback depending on your preferences and current devices.

Use our comparison tool to receive no-obligation quotes from trusted POS system providers

Buying Guide: How to Choose a Restaurant POS System

When choosing a restaurant POS system, there are a few considerations that may make your decision clearer.

First things first, you should define your specific needs. Depending on whether you run an independent coffee kiosk or a multi-location chain restaurant, your desired system will have different capabilities. Make a list of must-have and nice-to-have features based on your restaurant’s operations to get a clear picture of what kind of system will bring the benefits you genuinely need.

Here are some extra tips on what to look out for when choosing a restaurant POS system:

Pricing

Restaurant POS systems have a wide range of costs. Consider upfront costs, as well as whether both the software and hardware are included in the subscription fee. Make sure to include the added cost of integration, training, and transaction fees in your budgeting.

Realistically plan for any projected growth as well. While choosing a system that can accommodate your expected future needs will prevent you from having to switch systems later down the line, be careful not to splurge on an over-complicated system with unnecessary features.

Software

Choose between a cloud-based system and an on-premise system, and ensure your software package includes the features you need to run your restaurant business smoothly. These could include:

  • Reservation management, to help you book out tables in advance and gather customer data
  • Online ordering functionality, so you can offer your food as takeout or accept online pre-orders
  • Analytics, so you can learn which meals are most popular, which staff members are processing the most transactions, and more
  • Inventory management, to help you keep on top of your ingredients and prevent you from running out of something unexpectedly
  • Customer loyalty programs, so you can offer benefits that entice customers back to your restaurant as repeat visitors

It's worth being aware that if you prioritize features that help automate your workflows and prevent manual work, you may be able to reduce your labor costs.

Hardware

Think about the important pieces of hardware that your business needs, and how many of them you need – from POS terminals and card machines to receipt printers, kitchen printers, and cash drawers. While most providers can offer portable card machines so your staff can take payments at the table, some providers can replace them with a mobile tablet that can save you some money and streamline the number of gadgets you need to maintain. Ensure your durability and compatibility needs are met.

Add-ons, integrations, and support

Add-ons like advanced analytics features can level up your operations and help you spot missed opportunities. You should also pay attention to the software that your chosen POS system can integrate with – for example, does it come ready to integrate with the accounting software brand that you're already using? You should also check the training resources, onboarding support, and post-implementation support terms providing by the POS provider to ensure your team will get the support they need to learn the new system.

If you’re not sure, it's wise to try before you buy. Reach out to your shortlisted restaurant POS providers for free demos to evaluate their ease of use and performance. This gives more clarity than simply reading online user reviews. When testing the system, take a methodical approach, involve your team, and pay attention to features that improve day-to-day operations and save you time.

Do you run a hotel?

Looking for a POS system for your hotel? Check out our guide to the best POS systems for hospitality businesses.

What are the Different Types of Restaurant POS System?

There are generally four different types of POS systems:

1. Terminal – based around a terminal card machine
2. Mobile – a software POS system that can be used on any mobile device
3. Cloud-based – software that can be accessed remotely and used on any compatible device
4. Open source – free POS system software that can be used and accessed by anyone

How Much Does a Restaurant POS System Cost?

Cloud-based POS systems such as Square, Zettle, and Lightspeed can be used on a phone or tablet, which means you only need to purchase core hardware such as a card reader. These are typically affordable ($29 for the Zettle Card Reader 2), and seeing as Zettle's POS app is free, you don't have a costly monthly fee.

On average, monthly fees for POS systems are around $69 per month. Hardware fees can be much costlier at an average of $1,000+, however this is an initial cost, and once you're set up, you're unlikely to need to purchase new hardware for a long time.

Our Methodology

Our research team compared 12 different POS providers to find the best system on the market. The research team scored each system based on several factors including:

  • Hardware
  • Price
  • Usability
  • Help and Support
  • Business Development

These research areas were chosen based on how important these factors are to POS customers. We know how crucial it is for a POS system to be within your budget, offer durable and easy-to-use hardware and software, and have good customer service. 

Verdict

Our expert research focused on four key factors: restaurant features, price, help and support, and customer score. Based on how providers scored in these areas, we were able to identify which systems are best suited for the restaurant industry.

Our overall winner is Square, which scored highly in our research for price, restaurant features, help and support, and customer score. Square offers a free POS app that is simple and straightforward. It also offers Square for Restaurants, which comes equipped with great restaurant features such as online order management and customizable menus, priced at $60/month.

You can use our free quote-finding tool to compare and save on POS systems. We just need a few brief details about your restaurant, and we'll then match you up with trusted providers who can cater to your needs. They'll contact you directly with no-obligation quotes and answers to your questions.

FAQs

What's the cheapest restaurant POS system available?
If you're on a budget, three great options for a low-cost POS system are Square, Zettle, and Toast. They all offer free plans, with opportunities to scale up to a more advanced system as your business evolves.
How do you set up a POS system?
You've settled on your chosen provider, now you need to install your POS system – but how? Here's a step-by-step walkthrough:

  1. Set up user permissions and credentials for managers, cashiers, and servers based on their roles. You can configure passwords and access settings accordingly.
  2. Install POS hardware like terminals, receipt printers, cash drawers, kitchen printers, and barcode scanners. Ensure they are compatible and integrate with the software, ideally before signing contracts. Connect them to your wifi network if necessary.
  3. Configure menu, tax rates, payment methods, loyalty programs, and interface settings in the backend of your software. You may be able to add details such as ingredients, modifiers, discounts, pictures, and descriptions.
  4. Integrate accounting software, inventory management, ecommerce channels, or other tools for consolidated data and workflows.
  5. Train your staff thoroughly on using the POS software and hardware to take orders, process payments, and generate daily reports while cashing up.

Some providers offer onboarding support to help this process run smoothly. It's also important to stay on top of any necessary updates to ensure that your system works as well as intended.

What's the process for switching POS providers?
If you currently have a POS system that isn't ticking all of your boxes, it may be time to think about switching. The process of switching POS systems will vary slightly depending on your provider and the details of your contract, but it doesn't have to be complicated.

  1. Migrate your data, including menus and any customer databases, to your new system
  2. Ensure that your payment processor is compatible with the new system
  3. Integrate your third-party apps with your new software
  4. Adapt your existing hardware or arrange to obtain new hardware if necessary
  5. Train your staff to successfully use the new system
What should I do if my POS system goes down?
If your POS system goes down, your priority should be restoring service rapidly while minimizing disruption. Firstly, troubleshoot basic issues such as checking your wifi connection, rebooting your systems, and ensuring everything is plugged in correctly. If the issue persists, get in touch with your POS provider's customer support. Many offer 24/7 help to get you back up and running.

POS system outage is frustrating because it grinds your business operations to a halt. In the meantime, you can be proactive by taking manual orders on paper to keep a record of sales. Coordinate your staff effectively to minimize confusion. In case customers are affected by elongated wait times, be transparent about the system's issue while continuing to work promptly to maintain business as usual.

At closing time, examine the paper checks manually to ensure that the system's failure doesn't affect your accounting records. Once the system is operational again, it's critical to identify the root cause of the issue to avoid recurrence.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.
Reviewed by:
Ruairi uses his 3+ years of research experience to uncover insights which can help Expert Market provide the best business solutions for their users. He has done this by meeting with business owners to find out what is important to them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Ruairi specialises in tools that can be used to grow your business and has done research for a wide range of categories on Expert Market, such as EPOS, Website Builders, and Merchant Accounts.