From standalone terminals, to connected, multi-terminal/multi-location systems, to today’s app-based, cloud restaurant POS, point of sale for restaurants continues to evolve.
Many hospitality providers aren’t just looking for their next restaurant POS. They’re also looking for ways to strategically modernize and future-proof their entire operation, including their technology.
That's where cloud restaurant POS platforms shine. A future-ready restaurant POS that's app-based and cloud-powered can play a huge role and can launch a restaurant to new heights of success, saving tons of money and turning trends and customer insights into sales and competitive advantage.
Here’s the challenge: With all of this rapid change and advancement and a market flooded with options, it’s hard to know what you should look for in a modern cloud restaurant POS.
Check out our top 10 things to look for in a restaurant POS.
1. You should look for a restaurant POS solution that simplifies your life rather than complicating it—one that doesn’t require a lot of IT heavy lifting, but rather lets you focus on the reason you got into this business in the first place.
2. Be sure to look for software written in a modern, 21st-century cloud-native programming language (rather than 20-year-old legacy code wrapped up to look like cloud).
3. Open application programming interfaces (APIs): Cloud restaurant POS systems offering open APIs are more likely to be compatible — natively — with partner services such as third-party mobile ordering and payment vendors, who have developed their services using modern code.
4. You want a cloud POS solution that works the way your restaurant does, so you aren’t forced to use specific hardware or limit the ways your kitchen can accept orders.
5. Be on the lookout for a cost model that works for your business. Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid having to pay five or more figures for hardware up front, plus perpetual fees for licensing, per terminal costs and support? Wouldn’t you rather avoid the financing fees for borrowing capital and instead pay one low monthly fee for everything that’s based on your actual revenue without per terminal costs, hidden fees or "gotcha" charges for who knows what?
6. You should also look for a restaurant POS with a core set of functionality included in the base price and a menu of add-on options. This serves three goals for the business owner or manager. First, it gives you the functionality you need without complicating your interface with things you don’t need. Second, it grows with you. Third, it keeps the price at a level that will work for your budget.
7. A complete ‘all-in-one’ platform (rather than a best-of-breed approach) where you get a host of solutions from a single provider reduces the number of vendors, headaches and costs. And it gives you one integrated view into the data for your entire business without manual data gymnastics. This one bears a bit of explanation since it’s so encompassing.
Restaurant POS is just one part of a comprehensive set of integrated capabilities that span ordering/front of house to back of house to budget and finance, food costs, labor scheduling, and payroll, for example, all the way to customer engagement and marketing. In today’s digital-first age, whenever possible, it’s better to have an inclusive application or an integrated set of tools from one provider than a hodgepodge of solutions from multiple vendors.
8. A provider with the technology stack, upgrade path and willingness to work with you to transition to the cloud as your needs, budget and operational constraints allow. Cloud Restaurant POS providers can seem more like your advocate than your adversary. That’s because features can be released much more quickly than older Windows server POS solutions.
9. A solid, well-funded, stable provider who can endure the considerable expense of developing and sustaining a Cloud Restaurant POS development project, as well as the expense and time involved in marketing it.
10. A vendor with a positive reputation among technology resellers and end users. One way to tell? Look at the brands they serve. But look deeply, because some tech providers will claim that they serve a particular brand, but they may only serve one or a handful of locations.
Your restaurant business depends on your restaurant POS. Choose wisely, because once you decide and go through implementation and training, it can be very expensive to switch. Hopefully you find these guidelines helpful as you evaluate your options.
Editor's Note: A version of this article was originally published on Forbes.