If you’re in the restaurant business, then you’ll understand how important it is to have a reliable point of sale (POS) system.
A smart restaurant POS system is essential for restaurants – as it has unlimited potential to help streamline services, improve order accuracy, and facilitate better financial reporting and sales reports. Let’s look at how a smart restaurant POS system can help you increase profits, improve your guest experience, and provide data-driven business solutions.
What Is a Restaurant POS?
Your restaurant POS system is the integrated software and hardware that manages your restaurant’s workflow and transactions. When designed well, it connects the various elements of your business, such as online ordering, mobile payment processing, sales and marketing data, employee management, inventory management, and customer loyalty programs.
As TASK’s US Vice President of Business Development, Trevor Dee, explains, “A POS is really the bread and butter of hospitality tech. It’s the central piece of equipment that, when used to its full scope, is absolutely transformative for restaurants.”
POS systems are arguably also the most important tool for QSRs today. They offer:
- Faster ordering
- Customizing workflow
- Managing orders from multiple platforms
- Contactless and mobile payment processing
- Integrating with accounting software
- Intuitive ordering and product marketing
- Menu management
- Inventory management and inventory planning
- Integrating with your kitchen display system
What this boils down to is better efficiency for businesses, and elevated experiences for customers. In fact, 43 percent of restaurant owners in the US and Canada say that new technology has been critical for their business’ survival during the Covid era. But what’s really needed to go from good to great is a fully integrated restaurant POS.
A BETTER EXPERIENCE
A successful restaurant is built on logical design and customization that makes sense for the teams and customers who make business possible. Your technology should operate the same way.
An integrated POS brings together everything from ordering to payment – including mobile, contactless and deliverable orders and payments – and can include tracking orders, storing data, and even app-led personalization. And it should do so in a way that makes ordering easier.
The POS devices that customers use to place an order needs to be easy to read and understand. While your team can be trained to use a POS device, ideally it will be straightforward enough that they can pick it up quickly – and focus instead on customer experience. Your customers, meanwhile, need a kiosk or interface that’s immediately intuitive, user-friendly, and interactive.
Working together, these integrated devices speed up the ordering process and improve order accuracy by reducing the chance of misunderstandings between the customer and the kitchen. What that ultimately means is better experiences for everyone involved.
OVERSEE YOUR FLOOR IN REAL TIME
Table management software is a vital part of a holistic POS solution since it allows you to track how much each table is spending in real time.
With data about how much time customers take to order, eat, and pay at each table, and even when additional elements are added to a bill (like another round of drinks, or some more sides), the better you’re able to design a seamless experience for your customers.
If the data shows, for example, that extra rice is almost always ordered with a plate of kung pao chicken, then you can alter your menu, or encourage servers to recommend that extra serving at ordering time. If wait times are trending upwards, then you can re-evaluate your processes. And with a wide enough view, you can give customers (in-store and ordering online) highly accurate wait times. The result is often better table service, more profitable seating designs, and a higher rate of happy customers going through your doors.
CUSTOMIZE ORDER FLOW – REGARDLESS OF THE POINT OF ORIGIN
Today, most restaurants simultaneously serve both on-premise and off-premise diners. With the rise of delivery services over the last few years, restaurants need to be able to dynamically cater to both.
Receiving orders from multiple channels can increase your customer footprint and output – however the more channels you use, the more difficult it is to manually manage them. Imagine you receive three orders at the same time, one from the counter, one from your mobile app, and another from a self-order kiosk. Processing, prioritizing, and fulfilling all of those at maximum efficiency is a big ask – if you don’t have a holistic system that’s designed to handle it, or grow with your changing demands.
That’s where your integrated POS system becomes a crucial tool for your business’ growth. A POS will prioritize order flow to make your processing faster and more consistent. You may want to serve counter customers first (since dining real estate is limited) – in which case, your online and mobile order wait times can be adjusted so that the kitchen can prepare dine-in customers’ orders with the highest priority.
Now you can make the most of your real estate, and remote orders receive accurate communication every step of the way. This makes for a restaurant able to expand ordering options without sacrificing a streamlined service.
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MORE ONLINE ORDERS
With delivery food orders doubling during the pandemic, restaurant customers worldwide are continuing to spend more through online platforms. We’ve seen a permanent reconfiguration of how we order, with online channels for menu browning and ordering here to stay.
It’s not hard to see why. Customers want to be able to order accurately, quickly, and often from the comfort of their homes. Online ordering cuts down on labor costs, streamlines the process, and reduces errors. It’s a win for both parties – and a must for restaurants to stay ahead in today’s competitive market.
What’s important to note is that patrons prefer ordering directly from a restaurant than through third-party apps – meaning that your restaurant brand should have its own online ordering system integrated with the POS. This gives you direct control over the experience, the displayed prices, and the quality of service – plus, it opens the door to customization data that you wouldn’t have access to with third-party platforms.
Mobile payments are more than just a friendly convenience – they’re a necessity. In 2020, Starbucks reported a fifth of their Q3 earnings came through their mobile app, while half of Chipotle’s sales were digital.
Mobile ordering and pay represents a $57.6 billion industry that’s growing faster than ever – but to get it right, restaurants are utilizing mobile payment options that integrate with their POS systems.
It’s more than just putting in credit card details – it’s about giving unlimited options for customers to use their own preferred payment method. If your POS can’t handle a range of transaction types, it may present a block in the road for orders and cause delays for the customer.
SPLIT THE CHECK AND TRACK THE TAB
Customers increasingly want more personalized and seamless ordering and dining experiences, including how they pay.
Gone are the days of awkwardly bringing out the split-the-bill calculator. Today, a POS should enable front-of-house staff to effortlessly split costs on bills and specific items, making payment processing a breeze.
Imagine you’ve got a party of twelve asking to pay individually for meals, but also split a bottle of wine between three people and four bowls of fries between ten people. That’ll mean either ten minutes of calculations at the front desk – or a few seconds with a smart POS.
But how would you manage an individual customer’s or party’s bill for easier payment processing at the end of the night?
A robust POS system can establish bar tabs when a customer or table arrives. By storing card details, items can be added directly to their bill without confusion or fuss. When the customer is ready to pay, their bill and information is all ready to go with intelligent payment processing capabilities – and they’re able to continue enjoying their night without a hiccup.
Many restaurant POS systems can also help front-of-house staff easily transfer items or bills to new tables – something invaluable when a party outgrows its booth or shifts from bar to table. In a busy venue, an easy-to-understand point-of-sale system is essential for helping staff stay accurate and organized.
Providing smoother payment services not only improves the dining experience but also means less hassle and better tips for staff.
Gone are the days when workflow design was only limited to fancy restaurants. Thanks to new POS restaurant technology, customizing your workflow has become an essential aspect of any successful hospitality business.
To get it right, you need to start with the basics: inventory management and planning. You can keep track of your stock, monitor it in real-time, and order exactly the right amounts as needed. This keeps your kitchen prep under control and reduces wastage, ultimately saving you time and money.
Workflow also takes into account your front-of-house processes, such as counter ordering or table service, and streamlining communication between staff and customers.
John Laporte, TASK’s President of North America comments, “Don’t forget about how orders are received and processed. Once an order is placed, it needs to be prepared in the kitchen, which is where a well-designed workflow comes into play. By optimizing your kitchen display systems, you can ensure that every dish is prepared to perfection and delivered to customers on time.”
At the end of the day, customizing your workflow is all about making your restaurant run like a well-oiled machine. It saves your staff time, reduces wastage, and provides customers with a top-notch dining experience.
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EASY MODIFICATIONS MADE IN THE MOMENT
Integrated systems give you real-time data on everything from orders to staff costs to sales. It’s like having a crystal ball that tells you exactly what’s happening in your business at any given moment. And with this real-time data, you can immediately make changes to your menu and prices to reflect any fluctuations like out-of-stock ingredients, or seasonal variations.
“When you connect kitchen management software to your POS, you can track every single ingredient – down to the price, origin, and expiry date of a single egg,” explains Trevor. “That level of control and awareness allows you to make real-time decisions about your menu prices and special offers.”
For example, let’s say the cost of the ingredients for your ice cream sundae has gone up, causing your margins to shrink. With your POS system, you can quickly adjust the price of the sundae to ensure that you’re still making a profit. And if you have an online menu, your system can seamlessly update it in real-time, making sure your customers always see the most accurate information.
SEAMLESS INTEGRATION WITH ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE
Naturally, if you want to address pricing and modifications, then your accounting software needs to work alongside your POS.
Modern systems should be able to seamlessly transfer data from one platform to another, reducing admin time and taking out a lot of guesswork. So rather than gathering reports and tracking profit in retrospect, automated integration allows restaurant owners to sync real-time data across multiple platforms. Whether you’re working remotely, need to oversee multiple branches, or simply want to get more time back, this solution provides an effortless option without sacrificing total control.
IMPROVE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN FRONT AND BACK OF HOUSE
Effective communication is essential to keep your restaurant running smoothly.
When possible, systems and solutions should help minimize human error – and one way to do that is to ensure that your front and back-of-house staff are always in sync. With a standardized system, new orders are promptly organized and presented in an easy-to-read format that’s always up to date. This makes it easy to convey any modifications or customizations, such as allergies or specific preparation requests.
Now you can avoid the hassle of running back and forth between the kitchen and the front of the house or trying to decipher handwriting on tickets. Your staff can focus on providing exceptional service while your POS system takes care of the rest.
A MENU THAT REFLECTS YOUR BRAND
Having a menu that goes beyond simple communication can make all the difference in engaging both customers and staff.
Your POS system can do more than just streamline processes. It’s also an opportunity to invite your customers to participate in the brand experience and leave a memorable impact that keeps them coming back.
Research has shown that having a clear menu is a top priority for three-quarters of QSR customers when making ordering decisions. With a comprehensive POS solution, brands have complete control over how they present their food options, including unique imaging and menu navigation. This offers brands the opportunity to bring their vision for a personalized ordering experience to life digitally.
BETTER PRODUCT MANAGEMENT
With restaurant POS touchpoints, brands can easily experiment with specific items or try out new imaging with a little bit of A-B testing. Perhaps you’re curious about which photo angle will entice more customers to order your burgers, or if dynamic images will help boost sales.
Thanks to real-time data, POS systems provide immediate feedback on how marketing tactics are performing, making it easy to compare menus and images and make adjustments accordingly. Digital displays also allow for quick and convenient changes to menu items during service hours: if a dish is sold out, it can be promptly removed without causing confusion or frustration in customers. That’s a big win.
In fact, by promoting specific menu items on digital screens above the front counter, sales can increase by up to 38 percent – and all it takes is a touch of a button. This is the power of a successful menu management system, powered by a robust point-of-sale system. And today’s businesses are only beginning to realize their full marketing potential.
Data-driven marketing research shows that across the board, patrons reward businesses that make them feel special.
In today’s world, customers expect digital platforms that make ordering just as easy as in-person communication. Little wonder that a 2021 poll showed that 40 percent of restaurant owners said they planned on boosting efforts with personalized marketing and customer loyalty programs – and the best way to do that is with online ordering that tracks relevant customer data and delivers customer loyalty programs tailored to each user.
This is where data-driven marketing research comes into play. By leveraging online ordering that tracks customer data, businesses can provide personalized offers to keep their customers coming back for more.
To meet these expectations, restaurants need to invest in the right digital tools. Using a fully integrated POS system, customers can order exactly the way they want to with advanced configuration options. An intuitive ordering platform allows customers to easily search for their favorite items, browse food categories, and request add-ons.
It’s about more than just enhancing the customer experience – it gives businesses valuable insights to effectively and continuously improve their service and offerings.
Given that mobile ordering already accounts for 24 percent of total sales, it’s absolutely essential for businesses to make their ordering process streamlined and personalized.
A POS platform should always include options to communicate specific requests – modifications like “Pepperoni on one half” or “Extra salty”, or an open text field so customers can manually write in special instructions.
Providing more convenient opportunities for customers to customize their meals is just one more way to personalize their experience and increase order accuracy.
INVEST IN TECH THAT WILL HELP YOU GROW
Let’s face it – keeping up with today’s changing restaurant industry is hard. Customers expect more than ever, staff shortages continue to drive higher wages, and food prices keep rising. To stay ahead, restaurants need help from new tech.
An integrated POS system is the place to start, as an extremely valuable asset for managing a restaurant and marketing a brand.
Technology can help optimize every level of operation. Customer-facing digital platforms allow for personalized ordering. Front-of-house touchpoints facilitate immediate, accurate communication with kitchen staff.
Data analytics help managers define peak sale times, effective seating plans, and successful marketing campaigns. To be the best, you need excellent tech that can push you forward.