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Restaurant POS systems: Everything you need to know

What is a restaurant POS?

A point of sale (POS) is the physical location where transactions are processed.

Many traditional table service restaurants have a physical cash register somewhere in the establishment (usually near the bar or entrance) — the area surrounding that cash register is the point of sale. Patrons can exchange physical cash or pay via credit card or smart wallet, and exchange money for your restaurant’s service.

But since the invention of cloud-based technology and mobile devices like phones or tablets, traditional points of sale like this are slowly but surely becoming a relic of the past.

What is a restaurant point of sale system?

A restaurant POS system is the software and hardware that restaurant operators use to run their entire business: from taking orders to managing the floor plan, reservations, reporting on sales, doing inventory counts, scheduling staff and pricing their menu. More often than not, a restaurant’s point of sale system is a complete restaurant management system.

Most of the top restaurant POS systems on the market are cloud-based, meaning that the data it stores (your sales data, menu prices, inventory levels, reservations, etc) are all stored on a secure internet server.

What does that mean? It means you can access and manage your restaurant using any device that has an internet connection, whether that’s a computer, tablet, or smartphone. If your internet goes down, most ระบบจัดการร้านอาหาร have an offline mode, which allows you to keep working even when your internet is down. And when your internet is back online, your data is pushed and saved to the cloud.

What are the benefits of a restaurant POS?

Power your decisions with data

Great decisions aren’t (entirely) based on intuition in the restaurant space. Whether you’re setting menu item prices, monitoring food costs, fixed and variable expenses, sales, staffing, tips, or restocking inventory, data is what informs your decisions.

Whether you’re looking for high-level insights or to dive into granular insights, most POS systems have end-of-day reports, weekly, monthly, and annual sales reports. Take advantage of them to better grasp when your peak selling times are and what your best-selling menu items are.

Manage shift scheduling

While most POS systems don’t have labour management and scheduling as a feature out-of-the-box, the vast majority integrate with scheduling platforms like 7shifts, which can expand your capabilities.

Unless you’re an operation of one, scheduling staff and budgeting labour costs is essential. Make sure that the point of sale you choose integrates with scheduling software, enabling you to grow your team (and business) down the line.

Count your inventory

Inventory counts should be a part of your day-to-day routine — before you open up shop for the day and after you close. It’s essential for managing food costs, while ensuring you have enough inventory to meet the demand you forecast for the next day.

Now, when it comes to inventory counts, there are a few ways you can approach this. There’s the tried-and-true method of literally counting the inventory and keeping track with pen and paper — but that’s prone to error.

Rather, use your restaurant POS’ inventory management features. Toast POS, for example, has strong inventory management capabilities to help manage food waste, variance, and beginning and ending inventory counts. This is crucial for minimising food waste while assuring you have enough inventory on-hand to fulfill orders.

Adjust your floor plan on the fly

Back when restaurant revenue was largely predicated on table service sales, an adjustable floor plan was an essential tool for efficiently running the front of house.

When table service opens back up, it will likely look a lot different — whether it’s the amount of space you need to have between each group of guests, or the total amount of guests you’re allowed to serve at once.

Cloud-based restaurant POS systems like Lightspeed have adjustable floor plans that reflect your changes in real-time. This is incredibly valuable for keeping FOH staff quite literally on the same page as adjustments to your dining room are made. If wait staff are running food to table five, but a server moved table five to another location, your wait staff don’t miss a beat.

Offer takeout and delivery and order-ahead

There’s no denying that restaurants have gone through a monumental shift in how they operate since the start of the pandemic. The long-standing path to revenue was to either serve as many customers as possible (fast food and fast casual restaurants) or charge more per dish (fine dining).

But since table service was largely shut down at the outset of COVID-19, we’ve seen restaurants follow the path of direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce retailers and pursue online sales.

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