Almost every restaurateur has one question: Which POS system should I use? In the US, you can find dozens of point-of-sale systems, many of which cater specially to the restaurant industry. Each POS system claims to have the easiest interface, fairest price, most sophisticated software, best integration with reservation, and a host of other features.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that wireless POS systems can now be used on iPads and other tablets. It’s understandable that deciding on a POS system isn’t easy; not only do POS systems for restaurants cost thousands of dollars to install… They also play a key role in how smoothly restaurants run.

Here is a summary of some of the more popular POS system brands that are on the market today, as well as some innovative additions.

An introduction from GOURMET:

Gourmet – Hospitality Marketing For Today and Tomorrow says:

Toast POS System

Toast is the 800 pound gorilla in the market. As NASDAQ-listed company with over US$900m of revenues, Toast is one of the market leaders in the US and offers a wide range of POS systems for restaurants. When you buy a Toast POS system, you might get better software updates, warranties, training and scalability. Or you might not, but I’m pretty sure Toast didn’t get to be as big as it is without putting a serious amount of investment in its products. Toast also offer integration with other services, such as OpenTable’s reservation, which is helpful if you use OpenTable. Another side benefit is that, given Toast popularity, new staff are more likely to be familiar with the system (although most POS systems function in similar ways).”


The other big player in the market, Aloha POS systems, are made by Radiant Systems, another NASDAQ-listed company, but this time with just over US$300m in revenue. Nevertheless, Aloha is a very popular system, and offers similar benefits as Toast in terms of being a very large provider of POS systems. A very popular provider, Aloha also offers OpenTable integration. There is not much more to add here (except this video demonstrating the waterproof qualities of an Aloha system).

While there are many iPad POS apps available, we chose to cover Revel Systems, as it specifically targets restaurants. Compared to traditional equipment-based POS systems, iPad-based systems can be far less expensive to set up and run. Some offer you the freedom to select your own hardware, which can save money. Not to mention they just look cooler and take up less space.

On the surface, it seems that Revel Systems POS has all the features you would expect from a traditional POS system. One major benefit is that the back-end of the POS system is cloud-based, so there is no need for an on-premises server running the usual required databases and transaction reporting. However, some users might find that the systems is not as fast as they would like (not to mention that the iPad is not super waterproof, something that might be useful in a bar).”

Overall, the major POS system makers are in a very strong position and are apparently a good choice for a few years to come.

As their systems remain quite expensive, they may be missing a slice of the pie. Time will tell whether the restaurant POS systems will trend towards more mobility, versatility, and frugality.

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