What is a restaurant POS?

“The COVID-19 crisis has forever altered most functions of the restaurant industry – how we forecast supply, how we schedule labor, how we configure our kitchens to meet off-premise demand, how consumers access restaurants in general.” – Alicia Kelso for Forbes, 2020 [1]

Many restaurants have been surviving on a knife’s edge, and do not have the time, manpower, or resources to rethink restaurant operations and branding following the shift in consumer habits.

However, one industry has been rapidly keeping track of the evolving restaurant landscape: the restaurant point of sale (POS) industry.

 

How do restaurant POS systems work?

While POS systems are used by virtually all retailers, F&B operators and more, restaurants are a special category for many POS providers. Tailor-made POS systems are necessary because many restaurants, especially full-service restaurants, have complex and specific POS needs. For example, table management is a prized functionality in restaurant POS systems, but rarely in other business types.

Also, restaurants typically need to coordinate multiple POS hardware types. For instance, restaurant owners may need mobile POS devices for tableside ordering, a desktop POS to manage the seating plan, and a kitchen display system to organise kitchen operations.

iMin POS System for Restaurant

iMin’s family of POS devices which can be used in restaurants

Restaurants have also ramped up delivery services. In a study of restaurant franchises, it was found that 72% implemented delivery and mobile ordering services due to the pandemic [2]. This is another factor of consideration when choosing POS systems.

Thus, this article will share more about three POS software specially made for restaurants: Wongnai POS, Sapaad, and Toast. From these examples, restaurant owners can get a better idea of how POS devices can benefit their operations, and make a more informed decision when choosing a POS system.

 

Wongnai POS

About Wongnai POS

Wongnai POS was born out of a collaboration between Wongnai, an online restaurant review platform, and FoodStory, a restaurant POS brand.

According to the CEO of Wongnai, Yod Chinsupakul, the collaboration was “designed to connect restaurants to eight million Wongnai users, LINE MAN Delivery service, or even financial services from SCB (Siam Commercial Bank) from day one.” [3] Financial services from SCB refer to QR code generation which enable contactless payments.

It is based in Thailand, and heavily integrated in the Thai food and beverage industry.

Getting started with Wongnai POS

New Wongnai POS users start out with a free promotion period. Thereafter, a monthly subscription fee for the restaurant software will be charged.

Wongnai POS’s Android OS is designed for quick service restaurants while their iPadOS is designed for full service restaurants. Correspondingly, there is a price difference between the two, with the Android choice being more affordable.

iMin POS System for Restaurant Wongnai

Two OS options from Wongnai POS, for quick service and full service restaurants respectively

Which restaurants should choose Wongnai POS?

Wongnai POS has the huge advantage of backing from Wongnai, which already has an active user base of over 10 million. Due to this affiliation, restaurant managers can upload new menu items and promotions directly through their POS devices, attracting nearby users immediately. Hence, Wongnai POS is great for restaurants which do not already have a stable presence on LINE, and which hope to attract a new customer base.

Realistically, restaurants will not become popular overnight just by listing on Wongnai. However, it remains a good avenue for restaurants to attract new customers, and build up popularity over time.

Another key benefit of Wongnai POS is convenience. A business owner can easily check daily sales reports via their LINE app, instead of relying on verbal or written reports from restaurant employees. This also reduces the chance for human error, enabling smoother restaurant operations.

iMin-Desktop-POS-D4-Delivery-POS-System-for-Restaurant

iMin’s D4, compatible with delivery systems for restaurants

Restaurants which hope to ramp up their delivery services or are looking to start a delivery service can also consider Wongnai POS. Wongnai POS is integrated with LINE MAN delivery services, so restaurants can receive orders directly on the POS system without having a separate phone line to take deliveries. This will integrate delivery services seamlessly into normal operations, enabling restaurants to operate more efficiently and reduce human errors.

Although Wongnai POS is based in Thailand, there are many POS providers around the world which have linked up with food review platforms to increase their customer base. For example, Zomato in India has an online review platform as well as a delivery arm.

All in all, Wongnai POS is perfect for restaurants who can benefit from the user base, convenience, and delivery services of Wongnai and LINEMAN.

 

Sapaad

 About Sapaad

Sapaad is a software company headquartered in Singapore, but which operates all around the world. It develops cloud-based software for restaurants.

Getting started with Sapaad

Sapaad offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card information required. After the 14 days are up, restaurant owners can sign up for Sapaad’s subscription plan which follows a pay as you go model. Sapaad offers a range of advanced features. However, these are not covered within the basic plan, so restaurant owners should consider the monthly costs of these add-ons.

Which restaurants should choose Sapaad?

First and foremost, Sapaad is device agnostic. This means that it can work on any preexisting POS devices that a restaurant is operating, regardless of whether the device runs on Android, iOS, or Windows. Consequently, Sapaad is great for restaurants which wish to upgrade their software but have existing hardware options.

However, these restaurants have to carefully consider whether their hardware is up to speed. Software capabilities are limited by hardware specifications and functionalities. For example, application loading speed is partly determined by the device’s operating system, while a software that supports receipt printing cannot print on hardware without a built-in receipt printer.

A key feature of Sapaad is that it can be connected to kitchen display systems through Sapaad KDS. It enables restaurant owners to have an overview of the kitchen workflow in real-time, track order completion time and more. Do note that Sapaad KDS is not included in Sapaad’s base subscription plan, so restaurant owners will need to pay an additional fee to access this feature.

iMin POS System for Restaurant Sapaad

Sapaad’s kitchen display system interface

Lastly, Sapaad has strong integration capabilities for both delivery and third-party restaurant management applications. Sapaad has partnered with numerous food delivery platforms including Deliveroo, UberEats, Talabat (owned by Delivery Hero). Sapaad’s POS devices can automatically receive orders from these platforms, and even provide an analysis of customer waiting times and other metrics.

Sapaad can also be securely synced with other software which facilitate business operations, such as accounting software Xero and Tally. All in all, restaurant owners which have specific integrations in mind can look out for Sapaad’s offerings.

 

Toast

About Toast

Founded in 2011, Toast is well-established as a restaurant POS provider. For a software startup, Toast had an unconventional journey. Unlike startups which found their beginning in Silicon Valley incubators, Toast was founded in Boston and had virtually no funding from well-known venture capitalists at that time. Even so, Toast has grown to be a significant player in the restaurant POS industry worth considering.

Getting started with Toast

Toast provides free product demonstrations, and its website promises that they will reach out within 24 hours.

Restaurant owners can choose from three packages: Starter, Growth, and Enterprise. These packages are divided by company size, from small to large. The larger (and more expensive) packages also offer a whole host of additional features, including a substantial group of API partners.

According to Toast’s own research, small to medium-sized restaurants using Toast’s full POS suite did 10% to 30% better than restaurants which only used Toast POS.

Toast’s three POS package options in a nutshell

Which restaurants should choose Toast?                                                                                              

Toast highly recommends that restaurants buy the full software and hardware bundle, instead of using their own hardware. Toast offers many hardware add-ons, including mobile POS, kitchen display screens, and cash drawers. Fees also depend on hardware choices, which Toast claims are spill-proof, dust-proof, and made for a restaurant environment.

iMin POS System for Restaurant photo from Unsplash

Daily operations in a kitchen is often a messy affair, photo by Anton Nazaretian on Unsplash

Toast’s contactless tableside ordering and payment capabilities are well-regarded by restaurants and customers alike. It enables customers to pay the bill by simply scanning a QR code at their table [4]. This eliminates wait time for customers and helps restaurant employees to attend to other tasks more quickly.

Unlike Sapaad which is device agnostic, Toast only works on Android-based devices. However, this also means that Toast boasts an intuitive design that looks like an Android phone interface. Thus, employees and customers will both find it easy to use Toast, even if they are new to it.

Lastly, Toast provides many resources and articles to help restaurants do better, including training from Toast University. This is helpful for restaurants just starting out, or who need a little boost to improve daily operations.

 

Finding a good fit for restaurants

Many restaurant owners view their mission as serving up a plate of good food. However, the reality is that a successful restaurant depends not only on the quality of the food, but also how well the business operations are run.

Diners enjoying a meal, photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

A good restaurant POS software can help restaurant businesses to plug this gap, enabling kitchen staff to focus on honing their craft. This article has shared three POS systems for restaurants, namely Wongnai POS, Sapaad, and Toast.

While the three software share some common features, they can be differentiated by their strengths in different areas of restaurant operations.

Beyond the three POS software providers named, there are a whole array of restaurant POS providers operating around the world. Some are heavily localised, offering restaurant businesses a good pathway to consumer’s stomachs (and hearts). Others are global behemoths which have established a firm footing in the industry.

Restaurant owners should make the decision of choosing a POS system carefully, to maximise the benefits of the comprehensive solutions provided.

 

*All information about Wongnai POS, Sapaad, and Toast were obtained from their respective websites, accurate as of October 2021.

*Wongnai POS and Sapaad are both partners of iMin Technology.

References

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciakelso/2021/12/30/what-does-the-restaurant-industry-look-like-in-2021-and-beyond/?sh=4eca590a26a4

[2] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/off-premise-sales-and-non-traditional-payment-options-are-top-of-mind-for-restaurant-franchisees-in-covid-19-landscape-301156796.html

[3] https://e27.co/wongnai-invests-us1m-restaurant-pos-startup-foodstory-20180720/

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/25/toast-built-a-30-billion-business-by-defying-silicon-valley-vcs.html

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