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What is a POS in restaurant and how to use it?

Every modern restaurant needs a Point Of Sales (POS) system. But exactly is this technology and how is it different from a normal cash register?


Retail sales points, including restaurants, are sophisticated combinations of multiple technologies and devices. In shops, the POS system is made up of a barcode scanner, a weighing device, a cash register, and a fiscal printer.

It is also increasingly common to include a cashless payment terminal that enables customers to pay with a debit card or a smartphone with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The core purpose of the POS system is to facilitate the payment process and make it as swift as possible.

POS systems are a backbone of every retail sales process, a fact reflected by the market size. According to a report from Grand View Research, the ecosystem POS hardware and software vendors will be addressing is expected to reach $130.91 billion by 2027, up from $9.3 billion in 2020.

How does a restaurant POS system work?

A restaurant’s POS system is a menu-centered device. The key functionality that makes this system different from the ones used in retail shops or other businesses is its ability to enter the menu and then process the payments by choosing an item from a list.

For a restaurant, it is uncommon to require a barcode scanner or a weighing scale, though these too are possible in more niche models.

Also, restaurant POS systems are always used by trained employees, including wait staff and cashiers, depending on the type of establishment. The most common practice is to deliver a device with a touchscreen to the diner’s table to make the processing swift and the menu legible.

Which POS systems do restaurants use?

While there are multiple types of restaurant-centered POS systems available, these are among the most popular:

  • Toast POS – a restaurant-aimed POS system with a rich library of plugins to deliver functions that are unavailable in the software itself.
  • Lightspeed POS – a mobile-centric system that focuses on processing orders contact-free from each table.
  • ShopKeep – another mobile POS system designed for small and medium-sized restaurants.
  • Square – Square has built its position on facilitating mobile payments, but the system is a full-scale POS that delivers features reaching far beyond payments.
  • PayPal Here – another system that has matured from a payment facilitator into a restaurant POS system. It is based and built on PayPal’s popular digital payment app.
  • Epos Now – Epos Now is a POS system primarily designed for retail shops, but enriched with restaurant-specific features.
  • Clover POS – a mobile POS system designed to work with the full gamut of establishments, from restaurants and cafes to food trucks and more fringe dining experiences.
  • Agnis POS – a popular software in the hospitality sector, primarily in hotels and restaurants.
  • Oracle Micros POS – an enterprise-class software used by market heavyweights.

Each of these solutions comes with benefits and drawbacks. But picking the right functions can be a real game-changer for a company, heading off hassles and saving effort. As well they should: the POS system is also a cost for the company, so picking the wrong one is to pay for useless features and, in the end, burn cash.

What are the key features of a POS system?

So what are the most important features of a restaurant POS system? Here’s the shortlist of the most critical ones:

Mobile and contactless ordering and payment

Even before the COVID-19 era, mobile ordering was becoming a force. Companies like Starbucks had enabled their customers to pay for their orders with a mobile app long before the lockdowns. They had to comply with restrictions and more or less shut down in-house operations, but they still managed to safely and effectively provide customers with mobile ordering.

Convenient inventory and product management

A modern POS system should allow the cashier to directly inform the customer whether a product is available or not. Also, the POS software should be updated for every restocking or change made to the menu.

Menu management is essential to the success of every cafe and restaurant, and simplifying it can significantly boost productivity. But the management process can differ vastly by restaurant type. Fast food companies need convenience in updating stock levels in multiple locations with dozens of devices, while a high-end restaurant needs to make the changes as quickly as possible to allow staff to focus on what’s important – putting first-class meals before the waiting eyes and palettes of demanding customers.

Reporting capabilities

The POS system is also a sentry at a restaurant’s information crossroads. The POS system can gather information about income, stocking, and peak and valley hours, among many others.

Thus, a modern restaurant POS system needs to support advanced reporting that provides the restaurant owner with business intelligence-class solutions. The ability to enrich the business with big data gathered by POS software can lead to impressive savings and optimizations.

POS systems vendors are constantly working on new features. According to the Retail Consulting Partners 2020 report, US-based retailers look for omnichannel capabilities integrations (59% of retailers look for thisfeature) along with improvements for their existing POS solutions (52%), delivering a unified platform for all business aspects, and going mobile (44% for both).

How much does a restaurant POS system cost?

There is no simple answer on how much a POS system costs. It all depends on the features the business requires. Important considerations include:

The hardware

A POS system can be a simple touchscreen with a fiscal printer, or a powerful server that combines multiple touchpoints. A single touchpoint can also take multiple forms, from a portable device to a single register in a corner of the restaurant.

The software

Usually, a POS system is a hardware+software package, though software-only solutions are also available. There are multiple models of ownership, and numerous payment options. Open-source software comes free to install, though the company will need to pay for specialists to do that. Proprietary software needs to be bought once but maintenance is included, at least for some period of time. Software as a Service comes with a monthly fee and sometimes a commission.


Last but not least, the more features the software offers, the more expensive it will be. Also, it is increasingly popular among vendors to sell their software in packages that include or exclude particular functionalities. This makes the software more affordable and opens up a tailored approach.

In any case, to give you an inkling of what a point of sale system could run a restaurant, consider the following.

  • Toast POS – basically a $75/month per terminal recurring software fee with an option for discounts if more terminals are used.
  • Lightspeed POS – $69/month for one POS terminal. An additional fee of $12 or $39/month for more specialized restaurant capabilities
  • ShopKeep – a customizable subscription model with no “basic fee” per se.
  • Square – three pricing tiers. The first is a free option, plus the transaction fee of 2.6% + $0.10 for swipe and chip payments. The second includes the transaction fee and $60/month per terminal for access to the specialized features and capabilities. The premium plan starts at $299/month.
  • PayPal Here – 2.7% fee for card swipes/inserts.
  • Epos Now – 39/month for the basic plan and $69/month for the premium,
  • Clover POS – $14 or $70/month plus transaction fees. There is also an additional fee for the hardware. It starts at $69.
  • Agnis POS – full price $299, paid once with no renewal fees.
  • Oracle Micros POS – it depends on version (like Micros 3700 or Micros Symphony) – contact Oracle Sales.


A POS system is a vital part of a restaurant’s ecosystem. It is the point where the customer and restaurant staff meet to process and pay for the order.
The best point of sale software promises huge savings, while old software can hamper innovation and cause a restaurant to fall behind the competition.

Modern POS systems are no less sophisticated than other business software. They deliver APIs and multiple ways to integrate them with restaurant ordering systems like Ordering Stack.

Ordering Stack

Delivers a customizable package of features that a POS system usually cannot process, including:

All of these features are available without the need to change or update the POS system – everything is optimized via API and direct integrations to fit your business needs.

If you’d like to talk more about the features of a POS system or you are not sure which one is best for you, don’t hesitate to contact us now!

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