- a keyboard for entering data (if the sole function for operation is not touch-screen based),
- a cash drawer,
- a credit/debit card swiper (usually built into the screen or keyboard),
- a pin pad,
- and a receipt printer.
What is a restaurant POS, what are its benefits, how does it help, and what kind do I need? The introduction of POS computers to restaurants was one of the most effective and efficient things that has happened in the restaurant industry in many years. Prior to their introduction, restaurants had a rather hectic means of going about their business. Old fashion methods included a lot of writing. Hand written orders, handwritten receipts, everything was hand written. Most restaurants used a “pay at the front” system where the customers would stop at the front desk on the way out to pay for their meals. This system had its drawbacks, however. It created an increased potential to cause more havoc to the already fast-paced, high pressure atmosphere. For very busy restaurants this method had the tendency to cause a bottleneck effect where incoming patrons would get jammed into the front lobby with the patrons on their way out waiting to pay. Because of the awkward shape and massive size of registers of the past, restaurants usually had only one. When POS computers were introduced they were almost just as bulky as the old registers, only with “refined” features. As technology became more capable and able to be condensed in smaller and smaller “packages,” so did POS computers. The software began to require less housing and also required less space and could be mounted as single touch screens and a printer anywhere in the restaurant. If you look at a POS system in a restaurant now as opposed to traditional point of sale systems 10 years ago, you will notice a stark contrast in appearance and size. No longer do restaurants have to designate a large check out area just to accommodate them. Server stations have much more space available now which can be used for other things. There are a number of different software options available for restaurant POS systems. Aloha is one of the easiest to use, but there are a lot of other user friendly options for software out there too. You will find though that with many of them, the more user-friendly systems tend to be, the less content they are able to handle. If your restaurant has an especially large menu with multiple options for modifications within each item, you’d do better to look at systems like Squirrel. This particular software doesn’t have nearly the same smooth look of others, but it is far more capable of handling multiple features and extensive, bulky menus as well as a plethora of back office functions. My advice for restaurateurs trying to decide what POS system to choose for their restaurants is determine the atmosphere and level of service you are hoping to achieve first. The size of your menu, as already mentioned, is a big determining factor in helping you decide on which software will be best for your restaurant. Systems with Aloha are great for bars or restaurants with bars where the atmosphere is very fast paced. If you run a popular lunch spot near a business district and have a lot of people coming in for a quick bite on their lunch break, go with a POS software like Aloha. Quick and easy software is the way to go for the “in and out” type restaurants. You need a POS you can easily train your staff to use with minimal mistakes. Restaurant POS computers vary in price and features. As with everything, the more features which come with it, the higher the price is. Depending on the number of POS stations you need in your restaurant, the price can sometimes be bundled and some companies will offer bulk discounts for the purchase of multiple POS stations. There are a few basic things you need in order to set up a POS in your restaurant…. You will need a server, first of all, and however many terminals you choose at each checkout station. Most POS come equipped with: