March 12, 2024

Best Restaurant POS Systems for 2024

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The hospitality and restaurant industry has gone through many changes in the past few years, but the point of sale (POS) software that restaurants use to run their businesses has kept pace, improving both their features and hardware. Many restaurant POS systems now offer online ordering and menus as standard features, for example. These tools keep restaurants of all sizes running despite the challenges presented by COVID and the subsequent rise in online orders.

This list contains restaurant POS systems for every business size and type, emphasizing where each vendor excels within the industry. Based on our analysis of more than 20 titles, here are our choices for the best restaurant POS systems in 2024: 

  • Square: Best for versatility of hardware 
  • SpotOn: Best for customer engagement
  • Toast: Best for integrating payroll and scheduling
  • Clover: Best for customizability
  • TouchBistro: Best for ease of use
  • Lightspeed: Best for inventory management

Also read: Retail POS Software Guide

Feature Square logo SpotOn logo Toast logo Clover logo TouchBistro logo Lightspeed logo
Target users Small to medium-sized restaurants, cafes Diverse restaurant types, customer engagement focus Full-service and quick-service restaurants Small to medium-sized businesses Full and quick-service restaurants, particularly iPad users Varied restaurant types, adaptable for different sizes
Key features Free baseline subscription, payment processing, online sales integration Customizable interface, customer engagement tools, online ordering Integrated online ordering, loyalty programs Customizable hardware, app marketplace Tableside ordering, menu management Comprehensive menu and table management, inventory, multi-location support
User interface Simple and user-friendly Highly customizable and intuitive Intuitive and easy to use Highly customizable and intuitive Intuitive design, specifically for iPad use User-friendly and easy to navigate
Customer engagement Basic CRM features, marketing tools Advanced marketing and loyalty programs Loyalty programs, gift cards Integrated rewards and loyalty programs Limited marketing tools Standard CRM tools
Online integration Free online ordering, seamless e-commerce and social media integrations Strong online ordering and delivery integrations Strong online ordering and delivery integrations Extensive app marketplace for third-party integrations Limited compared to others Strong third-party application integration
Reporting Limited compared to competitors Actionable sales trends, operational efficiency data Detailed reporting and analytics Customizable reports, analytics Detailed reporting and analytics In-depth insights into sales, customer behavior
Payment processing Integrated payment solutions, contactless payments Secure payment processing with contactless options Integrated system, contactless payment options Flexible payment processing solutions Integrated payment processing Integrated payment solutions
Pricing Transparent, no monthly fees for basic service Requires personalized quotes, less transparent $0 down option available. Also offers core and custom tiers. Customizable plans, varies based on hardware and apps Starting at $69/terminal/month Several tier options for businesses of every size
Best for Flexibility and ease of use for smaller establishments Customization and direct customer engagement Comprehensive service, particularly for full-service restaurants Customizability and app integration iPad users, streamlined tableside service Versatility and comprehensive feature set
Try Square Try SpotOn Try Toast Try Clover Try TouchBistro Try Lightspeed

Feb. 23, 2024: Updated pricing and content.

At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research, and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. 

By defining business needs, we can determine the essential features organizations in various sectors require, and select platforms that will cover all bases. Reputable providers known for their ease of use and customer satisfaction are added to our compilation list for further analysis. We then evaluate each solution on the list based on the features they offer, considering the platform’s usability, integration capabilities, customization options, mobile access, and any other relevant functionalities. 

Price plans, hidden fees, customer reviews, and customer support are also assessed in the selection process. TechnologyAdvice writers will often take advantage of free trials and demos to get a first-hand user experience of available software. Finally, we curate a comprehensive list based on the previously stated factors, ensuring readers have the necessary tools to make an informed decision.

We rely on an internal algorithm to calculate star ratings, which are based on many factors.  

My research focused on your top-of-mind concerns like price, core features, user experience, and security. Each category also includes my expert score, which contributes to its overall score.

​​As the market changes, we reevaluate our choices so you always receive the best insight for your purchasing decision.

User reviews from third-party software platforms like Capterra and G2 accounted for a small portion of the software’s overall score. I focused on software that received at least 3.5 out of 5 stars on these sites. Because users have real-world experience with each platform, they played a significant role in narrowing down my list of top products to compare.

Pricing: 

Software with transparent pricing, affordable subscriptions, no fees for additional registers, and integrated payment processing received the highest scores. I also considered each platform’s “value for money,” which determines whether the number of features in each price tier or module is competitive with other vendors in the space.

Platform and interface: 

How easy is the platform to use? Will it be able to grow with me? What is the customer service like? And will employees’ data be safe? This category covers the intrinsic features of most software platforms and vendors, including how well they will integrate with your current tech stack. 

Hardware and basic functions: 

We prioritize systems that can work on any hardware, especially low-cost options like iPad. We also consider durability and market-specific hardware options for each vendor. Scanner and scale tools, checkout options, and employee management capabilities are also major decision-making factors. Finally, we consider if the POS system offers a customer-facing display, as the best displays let customers enter loyalty information and payment options.  

Help and ease of use:

Because business owners need to spend the most time attending to customer needs instead of handling tech issues, we prioritize customer support and ease of use. In retail, restaurant, grocery, or any other spaces in which POS systems are used, problems must be fixed in real time. Our scores in this category center around customer support hours, level of support at each price tier, intuitiveness of the interface, and ease of integration with non-native apps. 

Our picks for the top POS systems for restaurants

Square: Best for a variety of hardware options


Pros

  • Comprehensive range of features, including in free version
  • Ancillary services like payroll
  • Transparent pricing
  • Supports multiple restaurant types

Cons

  • Best experience limited to iPad or Square
  • Limitations in customization and assistance

Kitchen display system (KDS): Helps kitchens manage and compile orders from various sources for efficient processing.

Order manager: Syncs and manages incoming orders from tables, online platforms, and third-party apps in real-time.

Business analytics: Provides insights into restaurant operations through monitoring order volumes and running sales reports.

Third-party integrations: Integrates with external applications like Postmates and DoorDash for comprehensive order management.

All-in-one system: Offers a unified solution for payment processing, order management, and other essential restaurant operations.

Free Plan: $0 monthly, with payment processing fees of 2.6% + $0.10 per in-person transaction and 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction.

Plus Plan: $60 per location for the first countertop terminal, with $40 per month for each additional terminal and the same processing fees as the Free Plan.

Premium Plan: Custom pricing for high-revenue businesses, with tailored monthly rates and processing fees.

NOTE: Users can run Square for Restaurants on iPads, tablets, or smartphones they already own, or purchase hardware from Square.

Square’s diverse hardware offerings make it a formidable choice for various business types. The hardware range includes the all-in-one Square Register, the iPad-compatible Square Stand, the compact Square Terminal, and multiple card readers. This array of options caters to different business sizes and needs, from small retailers to multi-location restaurants​​.

Square is ideal for businesses prioritizing ease of use, a broad feature set, and flexible hardware options. It’s particularly well-suited for small to medium-sized retail, food and beverage, and service businesses, offering specialized POS software options for specific business types. The system’s ability to cater to in-person and online sales and its app marketplace make it a comprehensive solution.

Its free plan, comprehensive feature set, and transparent pricing make it an attractive option for small businesses, especially those without heavy upfront capital. While competitors like Clover offer similar ease of use and scalability, Square’s no-contract approach and more affordable hardware give it an edge. TouchBistro is more restaurant-focused and might offer more specialized features for that industry, but Square’s versatility remains a strong selling point​​.

In 2024, Square POS underwent significant upgrades. Key improvements include credit card pre-authorization—a long-awaited feature according to Square users. Other significant upgrades include a redesigned app interface, streamlined checkouts, and enhanced navigation and mobile item grid customization. This modernized design allows for a faster, more efficient customer experience and easier management of day-to-day tasks​​.

Pricing: 4.7

Hardware: 4/5

Software: 3.5/5

Support and reliability: 3.1/5

UX: 4.4/5

Square started out as a financial services company specializing in payment processing but has since expanded into making POS software for business owners of all types. The Square POS terminal for restaurants manages in-person and online ordering, payment processing, and customer loyalty programs. Use the hardware tools for counter service or full-service restaurants. Ingredient level inventory requires a third-party integration.

SpotOn: Best for customer engagement


Pros

  • Powerful reporting tools
  • Comprehensive restaurant management tools
  • Review management dashboard centralizes viewing and responding to reviews from multiple platforms
  • Integrated online ordering

Cons

  • Requires use of its proprietary hardware
  • Users have complained about customer service wait times

Online ordering integration: Direct integration with the POS for seamless online menu management and order transmission.

Table management tools: Interactive floor plans, table status tracking, reservation management

Integrated payment processing: Competitive credit card processing rates with SpotOn’s own service.

Employee management system: Includes scheduling, timekeeping, and payroll functionalities.

Detailed reporting and analytics: Provides comprehensive data on sales, financials, and customer behavior.

Diverse hardware options: Supports a range of devices like handhelds, kiosks, and kitchen displays for various restaurant needs.

SpotOn does not list pricing publicly, but they do offer $0 upfront hardware/ software packages to the smallest restaurants and no long term contracts.

Transaction fees: 1.99% + $0.25 for most card transactions, but higher for specific types of transactions.

Hardware costs: Prices for hardware bundles vary, with options for financing.

Additional features: Available at extra costs, with more options upon request.

SpotOn is ideal for a range of food service establishments, from small cafes and bistros to full-service restaurants and bars. Its versatility makes it a suitable choice for establishments looking to integrate various operational aspects into a single system.

Its hardware options include handheld devices for tableside ordering and self-service kiosks tailored for various restaurant environments. Its software is cloud-based, offering ease of access and real-time data management.

Compared to competitors like Toast and Square, SpotOn stands out for its focus on the hospitality industry and its extensive customization options. However, it might have limitations in terms of integration with third-party applications compared to some of its competitors.

It’s well-received in the market for its user-friendly interface, comprehensive feature set, and adaptability to different types of restaurant types and service styles. While it excels in certain areas like order management and customer engagement, potential users should consider the system’s integration capabilities and additional costs for add-ons compared to other systems on the market. SpotOn’s continuous development and introduction of new features keep it competitive and adaptable to evolving industry trends, making it a viable choice for modern food service businesses.

Pricing: 3.1/5

Hardware: 4.8/5

Software: 4.3/5

Support and reliability: 3.5/5

UX: 3.8/5

SpotOn POS is a user-friendly, modern system for handling sales and customer payments in different types of businesses, like restaurants, stores, and salons. It’s gained popularity, in large part, because it can be customized to fit exactly what each business needs.

For restaurants, SpotOn is especially popular. It helps manage tables, lets customers order online, and even allows you to change your menu easily. It’s not just for restaurants though; all kinds of businesses can use it to make sales and take payments easily.

One of the standout features of SpotOn is how it helps you understand and keep track of your customers. It has tools for building loyalty programs and sending out marketing messages, as well as other strong pay-as-you go marketing tools.

SpotOn also offers different types of equipment, like portable devices for taking orders right at the table in a restaurant, or regular cash registers. Plus, it works well with other software you might already be using such as reservation systems like Resy, inventory management like Craftable, or accounting software like Quickbooks.

However, the one real weak spot in SpotOn is ingredient-level inventory management. That is one of the few tools that SpotOn has not built into the restaurant POS.

Toast: Best for payroll and scheduling


Pros

  • Integration with online and delivery services
  • Customizable options, including menu items and table layouts
  • Built-in tools for customer loyalty programs and gift card management
  • All-in-one platform

Cons

  • Design aesthetic could be updated
  • Card reader for the magnet swipe has issues, according to some users

Kitchen display system (KDS): This system displays real-time orders in the kitchen, allowing prioritization and customization, such as the display of allergen information​​.

Toast Invoicing: Manages catering and wholesale orders through digital invoicing and integrated order tracking​​.

xtraCHEF by Toast: Offers back-office tools for inventory management and accounts payable automation, integrating with restaurant management programs​​.

Inventory management: Tracks ingredient costs and updates inventory automatically, aiding in portion control and waste reduction​​.

Customer and employee management: Integrates email marketing and loyalty programs while automating employee time tracking and payroll management​​.

Third-party integrations: Allows add-ons and integration with various applications like PayTronix and GrubHub for enhanced customization.

  • Quick Start Bundle: $0 up front
  • Core: $69/month
  • Build as you go: Custom pricing

Toast’s system is specifically designed for the restaurant industry, offering features catering to various dining establishments, from fast food to fine dining. One of the key advantages Toast offers is its integration of payroll and scheduling, simplifying the complex task of managing staff schedules and payroll.

It also offers $0 upfront hardware for up to two terminal kits for restaurants that are willing to pay higher processing fees.

In terms of hardware, Toast provides a range of devices tailored to different restaurant needs. The Toast Flex and Toast Go are notable for their durability and adaptability, offering features like spill-resistant design and portability, which are essential in a busy restaurant environment. For self-service options, Toast Kiosk offers an interactive experience for customers, reducing wait times and enhancing service efficiency.

Recent updates to Toast POS have further solidified its standing in the market. These updates include a new POS experience with a modern look, Dark Mode for better visibility in dim environments, and improvements in ease of setup and use. This positions Toast as a future-forward option for restaurants looking to modernize their operations.

Toast is best suited for small to medium-sized restaurants and cafes, particularly those seeking a complete management system that includes front- and back-of-house operations. It offers a range of pricing plans, catering to full-scale restaurants with advanced needs like online ordering and delivery. A New Restaurant Basics plan for $110 per month provides essential cloud-based POS, payroll, scheduling, and employee management tools. Custom plans are available for larger enterprises.

Compared to Square and Lightspeed, Toast wins for its restaurant-specific focus and hardware options. While it requires in-house credit card processing, which may be a limitation for some, its comprehensive features and continuous innovation make it a top choice for many restaurant operators.

Pricing: 3.1/5

Hardware: 4.3/5

Software: 3.5/5

Support and reliability: 3.8

UX: 3.8

Toast POS is full-service restaurant software designed to manage both front of house and back of house functions seamlessly, improving customer service. Manage inventory, online ordering, and employee time clocks in a single interface.

Also read: What are the Different Types of POS Systems?

Clover: Best for customizability


Pros

  • Competitive flat rates for in-person payment processing
  • Well-designed hardware
  • Ease of use
  • No setup fees
  • Effective reporting tools
  • Reliability

Cons

  • No free options
  • Lack of inventory photos

Diverse hardware options: Clover offers a range of hardware bundles and components suitable for various business types.

Customizable plans: Plans and pricing are structured based on the specific needs of different industries, such as dining, retail, and professional services.

Competitive in-person processing fees: Clover provides lower transaction rates for in-person payments compared to many competitors.

Integrated third-party apps: There’s a wide selection of third-party applications available in Clover’s App Market, covering various business functions.

24/7 customer support: Clover offers round-the-clock support through phone and email for its users.

Comprehensive feature set: The system includes popular POS features like table mapping for restaurants and low-stock alerts for retail​.

Clover hardware: Prices range from $599 for the Clover Flex to $1,799 for the Clover Station Duo.

Software subscription: Varies from $0/month for a basic payment processing plan to $84.95/month for more comprehensive service plans.

Payment processing fees: Generally 2.3% – 2.6% + $0.10 per card-present transaction.

Clover offers flexibility in terms of hardware purchase or lease and the choice of a monthly or upfront payment plan.

Clover provides a comprehensive library of software integrations, making it a versatile tool for various business operations, from accounting to marketing. This extensive App Market allows businesses to customize their Clover setup according to their specific needs and preferences.

The payment processing model of Clover is based on a flat rate, with fees varying depending on the plan and hardware type chosen. The monthly fees are structured based on the type of business, ranging from starter plans for small businesses to more advanced plans for larger operations. Clover’s POS systems also stand out for their excellent hardware design, which is not just aesthetically pleasing but also built specifically for point-of-sale functions.

Pricing: 2.5/5 

Hardware: 4.3/5

Software: 3.8/5

Support and reliability: 3.1/5

UX: 4.4/5

Clover POS software works for counter service and full-service restaurants, and it supports online ordering. There are no extra fees for additional users, making it a good restaurant POS system for growing businesses. You can purchase hardware for a cash register or use an iPad POS at your counter for payment processing. The customer loyalty tools are built right in, so you can follow up for reviews, send coupons, and communicate changes quickly. Clover may be light on features, but it integrates with a lot of marketing and accounting tools.

TouchBistro: Best for ease of use


Pros

  • Flexible payment processing options
  • Profit management features
  • Offline functionality
  • Comprehensive features

Cons

  • Relies on Deliverect integration for connecting with delivery services other than DoorDash Drive
  • Costs for additional features and add-ons can add up

Cloud-based POS: A fast, reliable, and easy-to-use point of sale system that centralizes operations.

Payment processing: Offers secure and versatile payment options, including cash, credit, debit, and digital wallets.

Staff management: Enables unique permissions and access control for different staff members.

Floor plan and table management: Provides tools for designing floor plans, assigning sections, and monitoring tables.

Menu management: Allows for quick and remote menu building and management.

Tableside ordering: Supports taking orders, upselling, and bill splitting directly at the table using mobile devices.

Base software: $69 per month for a single terminal.

Tiered pricing: Custom-quoted for multiple terminals, with costs decreasing per terminal as more are added.

Add-ons:

  • Online ordering: $50 per month.
  • Kitchen display system: $229 per month.
  • Profit management: $330 per month.
  • Hardware and payment processing: Prices are custom-quoted.

TouchBistro works best for businesses looking for a POS system with strong customer engagement features, competitive in-person processing fees, and the flexibility to integrate third-party apps. It’s particularly beneficial for service providers, retailers, and restaurant owners who value comprehensive hardware options and 24/7 customer support.

A key advantage of TouchBistro is its strong focus on customer management. It enables businesses to store customer information, build loyalty programs, and directly engage customers with promotional offers. Additionally, TouchBistro’s Customer Engagement suite offers unique features like customizable gift card options​​.

Compared to rivals like Square, Lightspeed, and SpotOn, TouchBistro comes out on top in categories like comprehensive in-person payment processing capabilities and hardware design. However, it lacks free plan options and its pricing structure can be complex. TouchBistro’s in-person transaction rates are also competitive, making it an attractive option for businesses with a high volume of face-to-face customer interactions​​.

Pricing: 2.5/5

Hardware: 4.5/5

Software: 4/5

Support and reliability: 2.5/5

UX: 3.8/5

TouchBistro is restaurant point-of-sale software for counter service shops, full-service restaurants, and everything in between. 

Purchase the base POS solution to manage your menu items and services, and choose from several add-ons to customize the package, including hardware. Use the tableside ordering tool with a tablet to get orders to the kitchen quickly and improve your customer service. Display the current menu with digital signage, and use the table management features to customize your floor plan. There’s even a kiosk feature for self-service in busy fast-casual restaurants.

Lightspeed: Best for inventory management


Pros

  • Versatile features, including table/seat management, handheld mobile ordering, and online and third-party platform ordering
  • Strong inventory and order management
  • Customizable reports and dashboard
  • Variety of hardware kits

Cons

  • Additional cost for advanced features
  • Waitlist/reservation system is not natively built-in

Customizability: Lightspeed can be tailored to various restaurant layouts and service types​​​​.

Ordering flexibility: It supports multiple ordering methods, including online, in-person, and third-party platform ordering.

Kitchen management: The system includes kitchen order and inventory management features​​.

Loyalty program integration: Lightspeed enables integration with loyalty programs​​.

Comprehensive reporting

Multi-location management: The POS system supports multi-location management, which is essential for restaurants with multiple outlets.

Restaurant POS: $59 per month

Add-ons: Starting at $12 per month

Premium add-ons: Starting at $39.99 per month

Lightspeed, a versatile POS system, recently updated its features, making it an even more competitive choice compared to its rivals Clover and Square. These updates, highlighted in their November product release, focus on simplifying and enhancing various aspects of the system.

The updates include improved management of promotions, enabling businesses to easily search and filter promotions. This is a boon for businesses that run frequent sales or special offers. Lightspeed also simplified the process of setting up loyalty programs, which is key for businesses focused on customer retention.

Another significant update is the introduction of service sale management, allowing businesses that offer services, not just products, to track these sales more effectively. This feature is particularly beneficial for service-oriented businesses.

Lightspeed is also planning to introduce a feature for setting and enforcing customer account limits, a crucial tool for businesses that extend credit to customers. Additionally, they’re adding a Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) feature, which integrates online and in-store operations, a growing trend in retail.

Comparing Lightspeed to its competitors, Clover offers customizable hardware and an app-centric system suitable for businesses needing hardware flexibility. Square, known for its user-friendly interface, caters well to small businesses and mobile vendors. However, Lightspeed’s all-in-one platform, which covers sales, inventory, e-commerce, and customer relationships, is a strong option for businesses seeking a comprehensive POS solution.

Pricing: 3.1/5

Hardware: 4/5

Software: 3.8/5

Support and reliability: 3.1/5

UX: 3.8/5

Lightspeed is a full-service restaurant POS system that has menus, customer loyalty, inventory management, POS hardware, and mobile ordering features for single and multi-site restaurants. 

The software can handle online reservations, and employees can plan the night’s turns with the flexible floorplan tool and table management system. Connected cash drawer, inventory, and employee management tools keep all major management tasks in a single interface. After acquisitions, both Upserve POS and ShopKeep are now part of Lightspeed.

Key components of restaurant POS systems

A restaurant Point of Sale (POS) system is a critical tool for managing various aspects of restaurant operations. It consists of several key components.

Hardware

This includes items like touchscreen displays, cash drawers, receipt printers, barcode scanners, and card readers. These physical components are essential for the day-to-day transactions and operations within a restaurant.

Software

At the core of the POS system, the software manages transactions, tracks sales, controls inventory, and provides analytics. It is the brain of the system, enabling efficient management of restaurant operations.

Payment processing

Integrated payment processing in POS systems allows for handling different forms of payment, such as cash, credit/debit cards, and mobile payments. This integration is crucial for facilitating smooth transactions.

Customer management 

Features that assist in managing customer relationships are integral to POS systems. They store customer contact information, purchase history, and preferences, which can be leveraged for marketing and improving customer service.

Reporting and analytics 

POS systems offer tools for analyzing sales data and generating reports. This function is vital for informed decision-making, as it provides insights into business performance.

Also read: Best POS Software Choices for Customer Rewards

Benefits and challenges of using a restaurant POS

Benefits Challenges
POS systems enhance the speed and accuracy of service by facilitating direct transmission of orders to the kitchen, minimizing errors. Some systems require proprietary hardware, which might be a constraint for establishments with existing hardware.
They contribute to faster transaction processing and can track customer preferences, enhancing the dining experience. Cloud-based POS systems depend on a stable internet connection, which can be a limitation in areas with connectivity issues.
POS systems provide robust features for tracking stock levels and usage patterns, aiding in reducing waste and ensuring readiness for restaurant needs. Implementing a new POS system can be complex, and staff may require training to use it effectively.
Implementing a new POS system can be complex, and staff may require training to use it effectively. As POS systems handle sensitive payment information, ensuring robust security measures is essential to protect customer data​​​​.

Finding the right restaurant point of sale system for your business

From the feature-rich traditional systems that anchor large-scale operations to the agile and innovative cloud-based and mobile systems that are revolutionizing small and medium-sized establishments, the options for restaurant point-of-sale systems are vast and tailored to meet every conceivable need. 

The key lies in identifying a system that aligns with your current operational requirements and scales with your aspirations and growth. With the right POS system, restaurants can transcend the traditional boundaries of service and efficiency, charting a course towards streamlined operations, enriched customer experiences, and, ultimately, a more profitable and sustainable business model. 

In an industry where every second and every interaction counts, the choice of a POS system is a cornerstone of your restaurant’s identity and success.


Aron Vaughan Avatar

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FAQs

A restaurant POS (Point of Sale) system is a digital platform used to manage sales transactions, track inventory, handle orders, and streamline various other operational tasks in a restaurant.

A restaurant POS system benefits your business by enhancing efficiency in order processing, improving inventory management, offering valuable sales analytics, and providing tools for better customer relationship management.

TechnologyAdvice is able to offer our services for free because some vendors may pay us for web traffic or other sales opportunities. Our mission is to help technology buyers make better purchasing decisions, so we provide you with information for all vendors — even those that don't pay us.
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