Each restaurant POS company offers a different combination of software and hardware, and some offer payment processing services as well. As you compare services, you want to consider the pricing for all three components to ensure you get the best value.
Most restaurant POS software applications have multiple plans or service tiers to choose from, each with a different feature set and price. Some systems may include all the features you need, while others may require you to choose a higher service tier or add modules or third-party integrations to get the specific features you need. Likewise, on the hardware side, some companies may offer bundles that include everything you need, while others allow you to use just a tablet and add peripherals such as receipt printers and cash drawers as needed to complete your setup. You want to include the costs of these factors as you calculate pricing for the systems you’re considering.
complete your setup. You want to include the costs for these factors as you calculate pricing for the systems you’re considering.
With this year’s update, we added a section to our comparison chart that looks at costs and contracts, as we recognize this is key information for comparing systems. Because our research indicates that most restaurant owners want tablet-based systems, the majority of the companies we considered offer this type of system.
We evaluated each restaurant POS system using the following criteria.
- Pricing transparency: Being able to see the pricing on a company’s website saves you time, as you can determine whether or not a POS system is within your budget before you spend a half hour or more on the phone with a sales agent.
- Monthly subscription fees: We looked at how much the POS software costs each month for a single terminal. Although your costs may differ from those we were quoted due to the specific needs of your restaurant (such as a number of terminals, devices, users, and feature modules or integrations), this number gives you a ballpark estimate of the monthly fee you can expect to pay per register each month. Monthly subscription fees vary widely because each service offers different features, numbers of users. Others have a low base rate and charge per module, which may save you money if you don’t require an extensive feature set and want to pay only for those you select.
- Contractual terms: Month-to-month or pay-as-you-go contracts give you the freedom to move on if the POS system isn’t meeting your needs or you find a better deal elsewhere. This is particularly important for restaurants that are new or on a tight budget, as some contracts have lengthy terms and early cancellation clauses that charge hefty fees if you close your account before the end of the term. Others contracts, particularly those from companies offering free equipment, are noncancelable, which means that even if your business closes, you’re still responsible to pay on it until your contract expires and you submit written a notice to cancel your account before it automatically renews.
- Feature availability: Most restaurant POS systems have an exhaustive list of features. For our comparison chart, we limited the features we looked for to those with the most variance between systems.
- Support availability: All restaurant POS systems offer customer support via email and phone, though availability may vary by hours or the plan tier you subscribe to. We looked at whether a POS company can remotely connect to your account to help you resolve issues, which can make it faster to fix software-based problems. We also considered whether on-site assistance is available for installation and training, which may be a necessity for restaurants that have multiple registers and several employees using the system.
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