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The best POS systems for restaurants

If you’re running a restaurant business, your Point of Sale (POS) system is a hugely important piece of technology. Not only does it enable you to collect payment from customers, POS systems can help you to run a more efficient front of house service whilst providing you with a vast array of tools to help you manage stock, finances and your workforce.  

What is a POS system?

A Point of Sale (POS) system refers to the various components that enable customers to pay for goods and the business to receive payment. 

The system is made up of the following hardware integrated into a computerised network:

  • Central POS terminal (iPad or dedicated computer)
  • Card payment terminals
  • Receipt printers

The nature of your restaurant business will determine the type of POS system you require, as well as the software features. 

What are the benefits of using a POS system for my restaurant?

POS systems have come on a long way since the days when the system would largely encompass a cash register and a portable card terminal.

Nowadays, when we talk about POS systems or EPOS systems (the E standing for Electronic) we’re talking as much about the software as we are the hardware.

POS software gives you extra functionality, and wider integration with other systems (CRM, Accounting, Payroll), designed to help you manage your business more effectively – not just for processing customer payments. 

For restaurant businesses, a good POS system can massively streamline your workload and help you deliver better customer service:

  • Fast track food orders straight through to the kitchen, reducing the possibility of human error.
  • Process orders and payments on-the-move, ensuring customers are served as quickly as possible.
  • Record sales in real-time, reducing data entry and giving you more time to analyse performance.
  • Keep better control of stock, making sure you replenish the right items at the right times. 
  • Manage your workforce more effectively, keeping track of payroll and staffing requirements. 

Six of the best POS systems for restaurants

The advent of digital technology and cloud-based software means there are a wide range of POS solutions on the market for restaurant businesses. 

Most of these offer standard features with different software and hardware packages depending on your business requirements. 

  • Best for restaurant startups… Epos Now
  • Best for restaurants on a tight budget… iZettle Pro
  • Best for pop-up/mobile/street vendor… Goodtill
  • Best for fast food… Square
  • Best for small restaurants… Touch Bistro
  • Best for larger restaurants… Lightspeed

Continue reading below for a more detailed summary on each POS system. 

Epos Now

Epos Now is a market-leading cloud-based EPoS software provider. The Norwich-headquartered business has won numerous awards and says it has helped more than 30,000 businesses to grow, attributing its success to exceptional customer service (it has a Trust Pilot rating of “Excellent – 9/10”). Primarily, Epos Now is a POS software provider, but hardware solutions are available for those who need fixed-till locations.  

Payment integration:

All major card payment provider​s as well as Apple Pay, Google Pay. World Pay, Global Payments and Paymentsense.

Price:

Complete systems (ie EPoS system, cash till and printer) from only £349 or £25 a month. Award-winning POS software for iPad, Android, Mac or PC is available from £25 a month.

Key selling points (software):

  • iPad or Android.
  • Simple and easy to learn how to use.
  • Enables quick and efficient stock management and inventory control.
  • Flexible and adaptable – it can grow as your business does.
  • Data is accessible wherever you are, so you can “manage your business remotely and access insights from any device​”.
  • You can customise your financial reports.
  • Automatically exports sales data to Sage, Xero or QuickBooks.

Support:

Epos Now offers “24/7, round-the-clock support, as well as one-on-one onboarding and unlimited training and coaching”.

Customer review:

“The data Epos Now provides enables me to make informed management decisions. And with Epos Now, my customers don’t have to wait so long for their order to arrive.”

Helen Stoker – Owner of Norfolk café/bistro The Barn

Find out more about Epos Now.

iZettle Pro

Now part of PayPal, Swedish fintech company iZettle was founded in 2010, launching its first app and service one year later. It “revolutionised mobile payments with the world’s first mini chip card reader and software for mobile devices.”

Small businesses can accept payments via iPad and the iZettle Pro app. It comes “packed with advanced features that help you offer better service and make smarter decisions”. You can pair it with iZettle’s card reader to “get a complete POS system – at a fraction of the cost.”

Payment integration:

The iZettle Reader 2 (£29 per reader) can be used with the iZettle Pro app, so you can accept chip and contactless payments from all major credit cards, as well as Apple and Google pay.

Cost:

£39 per month plus VAT per iPad, with a 1.25% fee per card transaction. No lock-in contracts.

Key selling points:

  • Easy to use, the iZettle Pro POS app was designed specifically for bars, cafés and restaurants.
  • iOS and Android.
  • Advanced sales reports and analytics.
  • Sales/payment data can be exported automatically into Xero accounting software, which can save time and prevent mistakes.
  • Free seven-day trial available.

Support:

Free unlimited phone or email support. You can also access customer support by chat through the app.

Customer review:

“We have doubled in size in the past two years and we needed a system that would help us grow the business, while also maintaining very high levels of service and quality.”

Tom Allerton – FD of Deliciously Ella

Find out more about iZettle Pro.

Goodtill

Goodtill is a widely used iPad-based POS software solution. Software and web developer Ani Chowdhury created it after he witnessed the limitations of EPoS systems in supermarkets and restaurants he worked for as a student. He set up London-based Goodtill with Oliver Rowbory and Jonathan Hunot, who had worked in telecoms/tech for ten years. They “sensed that automation and software was about to disrupt the POS space”.

Payment integration:

Cash and all popular payment cards.

Cost:

Core POS Module £29 per till per month. If you need more functionality, additional optional modules are available for £9 a month.

Key selling points:

  • Runs on iPad and combines interactive interface, stock management, reporting and loyalty programmes.
  • Fast and easy to use.
  • Analytics, system management and reporting capabilities.
  • Enables better stock management.
  • Easy table and tab management. Simple ordering and payment.
  • You can add hardware, payment and feed data into accounting software (Xero or QuickBooks).
  • Online demo available.

Support:

Goodtill operates an online support portal, where users can access advice on a wide range of topics. Failing that, you can message Goodtill’s technical support team or call them directly.

Customer review:

“Goodtill is a great company to deal with. They’re honest and supportive. They listened to all of our questions, and as someone completely new to the business, their help was valued. The system itself is easy to use!”  

Sharon Measures – Café Track (Northampton-based café)

Find out more about Goodtill.

Square

Jack Dorsey is the CEO and Chairman of San Francisco-headquartered Square, which was formed in 2009. He is also CEO of Twitter and co-founded both businesses. Square is a mobile POS system available for iOS and Android devices. More than two million business worldwide use Square POS.

Payment integration:

Accepts “all types of payments quickly and securely, whether you’re tableside, behind the counter, online or on the go”.

Cost:

Square POS software is free to use: there are no set-up fees or monthly fees, you only pay when you take a payment (1.75% per Chip and PIN or contactless payment). Square Reader POS hardware starts at £19 + VAT.

Key selling points:

  • Simple to set up and track sales.
  • Fast customer check out.
  • Customisable and you can easily “add locations and employees quickly and connect third-party apps that you already use”.
  • You can set up contactless payments and accept contactless (tap cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay) payments in person.
  • You only pay when you accept a card payment.
  • Powerful, free analytics, so you can better understand your sales.
  • Systems can be scaled in line with your growth.

Support:

Square users can access an online information portal. Local telephone support teams are available Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.

Customer review:

“It’s great because we can see exactly what’s sold, in real time, on the go from a mobile phone. I can sit down at my laptop at home and dive into key elements to understand what products are selling well and what things we can promote more on social media.”

Amendment 21 – NYC-style bar room and pizzeria, Northampton

Find out more about Square.

TouchBistro

TouchBistro Inc is a Toronto-based software company that has brought to market a popular restaurant POS system for the iPad, which has been “built for restaurant people, by restaurant people” and promises to offer “a better way to manage your restaurant”.

According to the company: “The TouchBistro iPad point of sale for restaurants was designed to make managing your business easier, so you can focus on why you opened your restaurant in the first place.”  

Payment integration:

Choose from TouchBistro’s top-tier payment partners and get an integrated restaurant payment solution, pay-at-table options and “the ability to easily accept all card types”.

Cost:

£49+VAT a month for one license, further £45+VAT for each second and third license. Extra fees are payable for capability-enhancing add-ons.  

Key selling points:

  • Tableside ordering, smooth customer experience, fast order taking.
  • Inventory management. Floor plan and table management.
  • Staff and menu management.
  • Smart features to help you and your staff generate more revenue (eg by prompting upselling and higher-margin sales).
  • Enables you to reward regulars to encourage continued loyalty.

Support:

TouchBistro says it offers world-class support. “Our award-winning Restaurant Support Squad is available 24/7/365. When you need help in the middle of service, we’re there for you: days, nights, weekends and holidays. We’ve got your back.”

Customer review:

“TouchBistro is brilliant. From back end to front end, it’s intuitive and easy to use. My staff mastered the system very quickly. TouchBistro’s ability to schedule promotions and track multiple bar tabs accurately are particular highlights.”

John Whitlow – Owner, The Tigers Head (Cheshire)

Find out more about TouchBistro.

Lightspeed

Montreal-based Lightspeed was founded in 2005. It is a point-of-sale and e-commerce software provider and its customers include 23,000 retail, restaurant and hospitality businesses in more than 100 countries.

Lightspeed says its EPoS solutions offer restaurant owners the opportunity to “Empower your staff with an intuitive system, reduce wait times for diners and streamline ordering with a casual dining point of sale that makes any task faster and easier to do”.

Payment integration:

Accepts chip and contactless payments from all major credit cards, with cash, credit accounts and gift card payments also possible.

Cost:

The most popular plan starts at £59 a month.

Key selling points:

  • Detailed revenue and staff reporting.
  • You can “enter orders and process payments fast with the Direct Sale Mode” and “create combos for top menu items to speed up ordering”.
  • You can split bills between diner, course or item, and offer guests single-seat checkout.
  • Enables better stock control.
  • Cloud-based system enables you to access data wherever you are.
  • You can send sales data automatically into Xero.
  • Scalable EPoS solution.
  • Free trial available.

Support:

Lightspeed offers full onboarding for new users and unlimited support. Free webinars, demos and videos are also available.

Customer review:

“Stock control used to be a time-consuming process. Now, when we sell an item, it gets automatically removed from our inventory, and recorded in a sales report, saving us a lot of mind-numbing hours at the computer.”

Ben Ryan – Momma Dough

Read more about Lightspeed.

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