POS 101: Everything Restaurant Owners Need To Know

Incorporating a point-of-sale system (POS) into your restaurant’s business model can streamline your customer service and internal operations — including how you strategize promotions and manage inventory. However, not all POS systems offer the same features, benefits, usability or functionality.

Here are some important questions restaurant owners should consider before selecting a POS system:

Will you use a POS to manage inventory?

A restaurant POS system can help you manage inventory at multiple locations, issue purchase orders and receive merchandise into your system. Using a POS to keep inventory counts accurate and current ensures that your restaurant has the ingredients and supplies it needs to meet customer demand. It also helps reduce the likelihood that you’ll have too many products in stock that will spoil before they’re used. (Plus, it can empower you to devise special promotions and features that use the ingredients you have on hand, in real time to avoid waste.) Identify which features of your inventory management you intend to leverage with your POS to select a system that’s designed to accommodate your needs.

Do you want a POS that travels?

Nearly half of the respondents to a Hospitality Technology survey who currently use a restaurant POS to support their business said they would soon upgrade to one that allowed for mobile use. When you have a mobile POS system, you can adapt your processes to meet the demands of the customer at any time. In addition to processing customer orders and securing payments made by credit or debit from anywhere in your restaurant, a mobile POS allows you to provide the same level of service on the road — including at special events and festivals. A mobile POS also allows you to tailor your checkout processes based on customer traffic patterns, including processing customers’ payments while they wait in line for a “to-go” order; instead of making them wait for their food, and again, in a line at a fixed point-of-sale terminal.

Do you want a POS that simplifies loyalty program management?

Loyalty programs can give customers a reason to dine at your restaurant often. However, studies show loyalty programs need to include some specific elements to truly drive customer loyalty and purchase frequency, among them: The sign-up process must be easy, and customers want to be rewarded for what they buy (not how much they visit). Customers also need to perceive value in the incentive offered, and find it easy to redeem their rewards points. A restaurant POS can ensure your loyalty program has all of these important features. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the respondents to Hospitality Technology’s survey wanted to upgrade their restaurant POS to include loyalty program features.

Are you familiar with the security features that protect your business?

It’s important to choose a POS provider that guarantees the level of security you need to protect your business from a breach, or loss of data due to technical issues. As you research POS systems, confirm that any provider you are considering adheres to PCI-compliant payment processing, as established by the PCI Security Standards Council. Though standards change frequently, PCI-compliant vendors guarantee that payment transactions will use processes like encryption and tokenization to protect sensitive data like card numbers before transactions are sent over the network for verification and authorization. Consider the level of operational support a POS provider offers (especially if you sell during nontraditional business hours) to ensure you can use the system whenever you need.

POS systems can make your business more efficient and appealing to customers, but it’s important to understand what you want out of a restaurant POS, before investing. Identify how you intend to use your POS, and what level of support any provider can offer your business to ensure the POS you choose proves beneficial to your restaurant.

Guest author bio: Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm. She has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.

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