Selecting POS Hardware for Restaurants
Restaurants have unique POS needs and choosing the right POS software can be a little tough. As a restaurateur, you already know what you want your POS system to have but there are so many different kinds of systems on the market that it is a little confusing. Apart from the different software varieties available, you also want your restaurant to have unique hardware that will make billing in your restaurant easier. To make this process easier, the NCR website recommends you choose your POS software and hardware after reviewing these few tips.
Proprietary vs. Open Architecture Systems
Most POS systems are based on two important software models. Understanding these categories is very important as it influences how and what hardware to buy and just how easily the system will work. At present most retailers offer proprietary and open architecture systems for customers to choose from. Proprietary software is made to order and it will not follow any open-systems or other POS software already being used by the customer. As a result, customers have to come back to the vendor for software upgrades, hardware attachments, etc. This can be a little expensive and the vendor can often overcharge on service, hardware selection, technical features and software upgrades. Open architecture materials, on the other hand, allow developers to add features to the main applications. This is good as the basic POS can be plugged in or combined with any other POS system on the market. If you are a small restaurant owner, this is good as you can adapt the POS to any odd hardware you have purchased. The open system also allows you to cherry pick software and hardware features you want for your particular needs.
As a restaurant owner, you already know what you offer at your venue but the POS should be able to adapt to all of those features and quickly. For example, the system should be able to make reservations at the reservation counter, calculate due cash for every order, tally cash in the cash drawer, connect with Wi-Fi to the billing counter at the bar or delivery counter, check sales and create hourly and daily sale reports, keep track of menu items sold, connect hand-held terminals to the kitchen for faster order processing, record information on repeat customers, add coupons or discount codes to the bill, offer special discounts to each customer, tally loyalty points, etc. The features can be endless but the POS system should be capable enough to adapt all the features you want quickly and efficiently.
The size of your restaurant can also influence the POS hardware and software selection. Small restaurants that have less than 6 employees can manage with two billing terminals, a card swipe systems, change dispenser, credit card readers, etc. However, a large restaurant with more than 20 employees and more than 20 tables seating about 100 customers at one sitting will require additional hardware and software capabilities to deal with the billing. Bars and pubs can also speed up the basic billing system by providing servers with handheld billing terminals that are linked to the POS. Billing is completed quickly and it saves time for restaurant staff as well. In a formal restaurant, handheld systems can also tally bar menus, drink menus, delivery orders, and manage advance ordering at the bar to streamline and quicken up the diner turnover during busy days.
All POS systems streamline the basic restaurant billing process. For example, with handheld iPad POS systems, now employees can enter menu requirements directly into the system and a ticket is generated in the kitchen. No food is made until the ticket is generated and the order is automatically added to the overall bill. The same goes for the drink orders at the bar and at the delivery counter as well. The system will also automatically add tickets and record cash and card transactions as they happen.
Hardware and Technical Support
The website Food Service Warehouse points out that almost all restaurants require intensive hardware and technical support to ensure that the system runs efficiently. Most vendors have a basic maintenance contract that you can sign up for but make sure you check how they bill. Some systems bill for hardware support while others offer it free as a part of the package.
According to the site POS Software Guide, hardware selection for your restaurant should be simple and easy to do after you’ve reviewed these tips. However, the Palmetto POS website also states that you should only choose hardware after you’ve selected the POS software that you plan to use in your restaurant. Each software system has its unique requirements and it’s a far better idea to first install software and then buy compatible hardware from the same company. It is tempting to buy used hardware at cutthroat rates from retailers but this may cause system crashes due to the hardware – software incompatibility and result in lost data, time and money.