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5 important questions to ask as you change restaurant POS

Are you moving from a legacy system to a new state-of-the-art point of sale (POS) system?

Maybe you’re grappling with payments, security, or perhaps the architecture is simply not fit for purpose?

Whatever your reasons are for changing your POS, make sure your new system fits your business’s requirements both now and in the future by asking these five questions:

  1. 1. What features are in your long-term roadmap?

Mapping out exactly how much functionality you need is important in deciding on a POS system, but you should also take into account features that you might want even if you don’t need them today. For instance, are you considering a loyalty-integrated kiosk? Or maybe you’re thinking of adopting a more advanced CRM? As it’s likely you will be with the same provider for a number of years, take the time to review their stack against your own technology nice-to-haves and talk to them about how your roadmaps could align in future.

POS features to think about:
  • Online ordering
  • Kiosks for self-ordering
  • Pay at table services
  • Order at table
  • Web app
  • Mobile app
  • Delivery apps – third-party and owned
  • Check splitting/tip features
  • Ability to use kitchen screens
  • BOH:FOH communication tools
  • Table layout features
  • Loyalty programs
  • Advanced inventory with tracking for individual ingredients
  1. 2. What is their policy on third-party integrations?

Though many vendors are trying to fill in the gaps with their own software, there are many third-party integrations that can supplement your POS system. Some POS companies will make you pay to sync your data with third-party software providers, while some may not allow it at all. In the current fast casual and QSR climate, where guests are beginning to expect digital options for self-service, you can stay ahead of the game and avoid having to harness disparate databases for all your different systems by working with a POS vendor that opens their technology to third parties.

  1. 3. Do you need a mobile POS? 

As operators in the U.S look to update their POS, many are beginning to shift towards the European model of bringing ordering and payment to the table in the form of a tableside POS. This change comes as customer payment preferences are changing towards payments that require some form of security step, such as finger-print ID.

However, time spent setting up and processing orders and payments at the tableside is both dead time for the operator, and frustrating from the guest-perspective. Indeed, 69% of restaurant-goers find waiting for the check the most frustrating part of eating out, which is understandable when you take into account that, on average, it takes 12 minutes from asking for the check to paying it.

And the harsh reality is that tableside POS payment does little to reduce this waiting time, as it still requires most of the steps previously required for a traditional card payment. Using tableside POS can even create additional delays if servers have limited access to payment devices and have to wait for colleagues to finish using them.

To address this, some operators are looking towards mobile order & pay at table solutions as an option. Next generation order & pay at table leverages web app technology to allow guests to browse the menu, create an order and review the check on their phones at the table. They can then pay in their own time using their phone’s digital wallet capabilities or by credit/debit card. Other benefits associated with this solution include:

  • No hardware costs. Slash the costs involved with running multiple handheld devices. Guests access the menu, order and pay on their own phones.
  • IncreasedAverage Transaction Value of at least20% with menu upsell and cross-sell functionality
  • Better integration with third-parties including loyalty programs.
  • Improved security over EMV as the server does not see the guest’s card details.
  • No change to tipping culture.By allowing guests to incorporate tipping into the payment journey on their own phone, you’re removing the discomfort that they may feel from tipping on a tableside POS.
  • Fewer instances of dine & dash.
  • Providing a segway into other digital channels such as Order Ahead, Delivery, Order At Table, Kiosk, Loyalty, Rewards.
  1. 4. Are they secure, tried and tested?

Cyber security has never been more important. Many of the most high profile data breaches of customer payment information involved POS security compromises. Here are just a few examples from recent years:

Wendy’s (2018): The fast food chain confirmed that 1,025 of its stores had been infected with POS malware, resulting in a data breach of an undisclosed number of records. The brand is now facing multiple class action suits relating to the incident.

Eataly (2015): Unknown hackers compromised NYC-based Eataly’s POS system by using malware designed to steal customer car details.  Data stolen could have included customer names as well as credit card account numbers, expiration dates, and CVV security codes. Eataly ultimately hired forensic experts to assist in the investigation and sanitize its systems.

Best in breed POS providers invest millions in data security hardware and software, helping to protect your guests and your business from hackers. Make sure you understand the protective layers they have in place by making sure you have asked them about their:

  • Data breach policy
  • Record of historical breeches
  • Security accreditations
  • Tokenization of payments
  • Bug resolution process
  • Guarantees
  1. 5. What on-going support do they offer?

This is especially important for multi-unit, multi-location businesses that may need access to support in different languages and time zones, or to speak to people that are informed about local nuances such as tax, legal or fiscal issues – which can be important when it comes to POS troubleshooting. Generally, the bigger and more longstanding the vendor, the more equipped they will be at providing cross-territory support.

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