As a restaurant owner, an iPad-based POS system can transform your operations. It streamlines processes, integrates with third-party platforms, and enhances customer experience.
From small food trucks to fine dining, an iPad POS is a versatile tool that can handle everything from customer-facing displays to Kitchen Display Systems and self-ordering kiosks.
With these cloud-based systems, you gain the freedom to access data from just about anywhere, thereby providing you with enhanced control over your operations.
An iPad POS system provides a user-friendly interface, real-time updates, many third-party integrations, scalability, and customization. It’s a future-focused, affordable, and flexible solution.
The Top 5 iPad Restaurant POS Systems In 2023:
- TouchBistro – Best for restaurants looking for an efficient and well-designed system
- Lightspeed – Best for restaurants seeking powerful data insights and retail features
- GoTab – Best for mobile and eCommerce-oriented restaurants
- Square – Best subscription-free POS for small restaurants and cafes
- Shopify – Best for restaurants and cafes that sell products online
Why Use An iPad Restaurant POS System?
An iPad restaurant POS system is a cloud-based solution that runs on an iPad or other mobile devices, allowing restaurant owners and staff to manage their business from virtually anywhere.
Unlike traditional legacy POS systems, which involve bulky hardware and complicated software installations, iPad POS systems offer a sleek, easy-to-use interface for staff to manage orders, payments, and customer engagement.
Designed by restaurant industry veterans
Best for independent full-service restaurants looking for a well designed, feature-rich and secure cloud/server-based POS system.
- Speedy & easy to use
- Commission-free reservations
- Excellent offline functionality
- Fewer integrations than competition
- Somewhat limited reporting features
TouchBistro is an excellent choice for independent full-service restaurants but has also been proven effective at helping any type of eatery manage its business.
Not only does it offer a visually appealing and intuitive design, but it also has an abundance of features. It further offers the convenience of a hybrid cloud/server system, giving you peace of mind knowing that your data is always accessible and secure.
Ease of use: TouchBistro is one of the easiest POS systems to use. It is easy to use and you can learn it in a short time. TouchBistro is great for people who want something quick and easy to work with.
New employees don’t have to waste precious time going through an extensive tutorial – if they are familiar with an iPad, then they can easily figure out TouchBistro. You can customize your menus and interface with this tool which will help you speed up your processes in the long run.
Where TouchBistro Stands Out
TouchBistro has many great features which I will discuss later in this review, but these are the features I think make TouchBistro stand out compared to its competitors.
- Reservations: With TouchBistro’s commission-free reservations tool restaurants can easily manage their reservations and get to know their diners’ preferences, which is key to creating an exceptional hospitality experience.
- Ease of use: TouchBistro’s POS system is fast, reliable, and easy to use. New employees don’t have to waste precious time going through an extensive tutorial – if they are familiar with iPhones, then they can easily figure out TouchBistro.
- Payment processing options: Nowadays it’s becoming unusual for a POS system to allow the use of a third-party payment processing solution. Here you have a choice between using TouchBistro Payments or one of the payment processing partners like Square.
- Floor plan & table management: This feature of TouchBistro is a significant factor that makes the POS system stand out. With TouchBistro’s floor plan and table management software, you can easily arrange your restaurant’s layout, delegate staff to specific sections, and check the availability of your dining room.
- Offline functionality: TouchBistro’s POS system can process payments even if the internet goes down, ensuring seamless, uninterrupted service.
Where TouchBistro Falls Short
While it is a highly regarded system, there are some areas for improvement and potential drawbacks to consider.
- Limited integrations: While TouchBistro has some integrations available, it may not have as many options as other POS systems. This could be a limiting factor for businesses that require more extensive integrations with other software and platforms.
- Online ordering: TouchBistro relies on integration with Deliverect to connect to other delivery services than DoorDash Drive.
- Limited reporting: There are certain areas where the reporting features need improvement to generate more useful sales, employee performance, and inventory reports.
Cleverly crafted POS with exceptional design
Best for upscale eateries seeking powerful data insights, retail features, and extensive integration possibilities.
- Ease of use & interface design
- Reporting & analytics
- E-commerce capabilities
- Limited offline functionality
- Not the cheapest option
Lightspeed Restaurant POS offers restaurant owners the tools to easily understand and manage the way their restaurant works. With built-in data access and in-depth analytics, you can get a clearer picture of the restaurant without having to dig too deep.
From trending menu items and granular sales data to staff performance reports and more. Understanding which items are top performers, underachievers, or hidden gems can be crucial when it comes to optimizing your menu selection. With all of this valuable information, you are practically sitting on a goldmine of potential insights.
Lightspeed has 200+ integrations, so you can easily add additional features and services as your business grows.
If you’re looking to take your restaurant in a new direction, using a restaurant POS that also has retail capabilities could be the key to unlocking success. With Lightspeed, you can easily expand into selling merch, offering cooking classes and launching other retail operations.
Where Lightspeed Restaurant Stands Out
These are the features I think make Lightspeed stand out compared to competitors.
- Reporting and analytics: Lightspeed Restaurant offers advanced reporting and analytics tools that help you gain deep insights into your business’s performance. The acquisition of Upserve 2020 has taken Lightspeeds analytics to the next level. This includes detailed sales data, employee performance metrics, and inventory management information.
- Advanced insights: The insights optimizes server and menu performance, time optimization, and a virtual logbook that improves communication among restaurant staff across different shifts.
- Ease of use: With its intuitive interface and customizable layout, Lightspeed Restaurant is designed to be user-friendly for both experienced and novice users. The straightforward navigation and simple order entry process help to turn tables faster and make it easy for your staff to get up and running quickly, reducing training time and ensuring a smooth transition.
- E-commerce capabilities: With the Lightspeed ecom feature you can build a website with retail capabilities that allows you to sell branded products or gift cards to your customers, helping you to attract new customers and increase your revenue. You can also link your website to delivery platforms such as UberEats or Doordash, and connect to OpenTable to take reservations.
- Customer Support: According to G2’s 2021 Grid Report on restaurant POS systems, Lightspeed was rated highest in quality of support and ease of use among other competitors in the industry.
Where Lightspeed Falls Short
While Lightspeed Restaurant POS is a highly regarded system, there are some areas for improvement and potential drawbacks to consider.
- Limited Offline Functionality: Since Lightspeed is cloud-based, it requires a stable internet connection to function. This means that if your internet goes down, you won’t be able to process transactions or access any data. While Lightspeed does have a limited offline mode, it doesn’t offer full functionality.
- Price: Lightspeed Restaurant POS is more expensive than some other POS systems on the market. While the system offers a range of features and benefits, the cost may be a barrier for some restaurant owners, especially those who are just starting out.
- Limited Customization: While Lightspeed’s interface is user-friendly, it may not offer as much customization as some restaurant owners would like. For example, some users have reported that it’s difficult to customize the layout of the order screen, which can impact efficiency during peak hours.
GoTab is a versatile and innovative restaurant POS and commerce platform founded in 2016 with a mission to improve the operation and service of restaurants through technology.
GoTab works on virtually any web-enabled mobile device, including iPads, meaning you can use your existing hardware and save costs.
Offering a range of features GoTab focuses on contactless service, mobile ordering, payment, and efficient communication. Its user-friendly interface, integration with various systems, and real-time analytics provide restaurant owners with the tools they need to modernize their operations, increase efficiency, and drive growth.
Where GoTab Stands Out on an iPad
Mobile Order and Pay: With GoTab, your guests can order and pay directly from their mobile devices, reducing the need for physical menus and payment processing. This not only provides a convenient and contactless dining experience for customers but also helps to increase table turnover and reduce labor costs.
Contactless Service: GoTab offers robust contactless self-service options, including QR ordering and check control. Your guests can order what they want when they want, with both parties able to add to the digital check simultaneously, leading to higher customer spend and lower transaction processing fees.
Flexibility and Customizable Menu Management: GoTab can run on any Internet-connected Android, iOS, or Windows tablet or phone, offering flexibility in hardware options. It also allows restaurants to easily create, update, and customize their menus directly within the system, ensuring that you’re offering a menu that appeals to your guests.
Integrated Solutions: GoTab’s solutions for mobile ordering, payment, kitchen, back-office management, and inventory management are integrated to work seamlessly together. The system also seamlessly integrates with various payment processors, kitchen display systems, and accounting systems for secure transactions, real-time order management, and streamlined financial management.
Guest Data: GoTab supports access to first-party data for opted-in guests, helping you establish a direct connection with your guests and improve your restaurant’s affinity with customers while saving time and money.
Real-Time Analytics: GoTab provides real-time analytics and reporting capabilities, allowing you to make data-driven decisions. View sales and order summaries, refund summaries, and an overview of discounts and fees. The Manager Dashboard allows you to manage your operations on the go and view reports and orders in real-time, enabling quick decision-making.
Flexible Hardware Options: GoTab works on virtually any web-enabled mobile device, including iPads, meaning you can use your existing hardware and save costs. The company also offers excellent customer support, with a team of experts available to assist with setup, training, and ongoing support.
In conclusion, GoTab offers a comprehensive set of features that can help you modernize your operations, improve efficiency, and enhance the guest experience. Its user-friendly interface, contactless service, flexibility, integration, data access, real-time analytics, flexible hardware options, and excellent customer support make it a strong choice for your restaurant POS system.
Best for small restaurants and coffee shops
A small business POS for eateries that need a subscription-free plan, smooth transactions and easy-to-operate retail features.
- Subscription free plan
- No long term contracts
- Integrates with the Square ecosystem
- Lacks some advanced features
- No on-site support
Square for Restaurants is the perfect solution if you need a free plan, smooth restaurant transactions and easy-to-operate retail features.
They’ve also included the website builder Square Online so your restaurant can have an online presence. That’s key to staying competitive in today’s restaurant industry.
With Square, you get all the basic features such as sales reporting, payments, and employee management that are essential for restaurant operations – no matter the size of your restaurant.
You can use it for any type of food service business, including small restaurants, fast food places, bakery shops, cafés, food trucks, etc.
Where Square Stands Out
Ease of Use: Square has a modern and familiar user interface design that simplifies learning and operation. The system is easy to set up and doesn’t require much training. This means your staff can focus on guests rather than learning the system.
Affordable Pricing: The Free plan includes fundamental services, such as online ordering and POS. The Plus plan costs $60 per month and includes advanced features like coursing as well as 24/7 support. For in-person payments, all plans include a processing rate of 2.6% plus 10 cents.
No long-term contract: Getting started with Square for Restaurants is simple because there are no installation fees or long-term commitments required. Additionally, you have the flexibility to upgrade, downgrade, or terminate your plan whenever necessary.
Comprehensive CRM Capabilities: The system has CRM features that allow for customer profiles, order history tracking, and integration with Square Loyalty and Marketing. This creates a complete solution for managing customers.
Square Online is a free add-on that allows restaurants to build and design their own websites for online ordering. Square Online integrates with Order with Google so when a customer searches for the restaurant on Google Search or Maps, they will see an ordering button on the search result that they can select to choose an ordering channel. Square Online also has e-commerce capabilities for restaurants that want to sell products online.
Integration with the Square Ecosystem: Square for Restaurants is part of a larger ecosystem of Square products, which means it can integrate with other Square services. This includes Square Payroll and Team Management for handling permissions, schedules, timecards, and tips, and Square KDS.
Where Square Can Improve
Limited Advanced Features: Square for Restaurants may lack some advanced features offered by other POS systems, such as in-depth inventory management and comprehensive reporting tools
Complex Reporting: The reporting features are causing concerns because they lack sufficient detail and are complex, making it difficult to search for specific information. Additionally, the process of reconciling sales to receivables is lengthy.
Lack of On-Site Support: Square for Restaurants does not provide on-site support, which may not be suitable for businesses that rely on in-person assistance.
Limited Support for Complex Menus: For restaurants with frequently changing or complex menus, Square for Restaurants might not be the best choice. Making changes to the menu can be slower than other systems.
Shopify POS is available in most countries where Shopify is available, including Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and many other countries.
Shopify is the go-to for restaurant owners who want to open up shop online or add retail to their income stream.
Offering a comprehensive e-commerce system tailored for businesses of all sizes, Shopify also has something special just for restaurants; a POS system that tracks orders and inventory, manage employees, and process payments quickly – it’s great if your restaurant is small or just starting up.
Plus, it’s suitable even if you’re serving customers from a restaurant kitchen – the point-of-sale system makes taking orders, tracking inventory and managing employees fairly simple.
Shopify for Restaurants is no doubt an attractive POS system with many features, but it also comes with a few drawbacks. Offline mode and customization options are not available – and in some cases, you need to invest in additional integrations as well.
Key tools such as variance reporting may be missing too so if that’s important to your restaurant business then Shopify won’t be the right choice for you.
But don’t discount this solution just yet; its positive aspects like ease of setting up an online store, versatile integrations and cost-effectiveness make up for these shortcomings. So give it some thought before deciding how best to serve your own restaurant needs.
Pros and Cons of Shopify For Restaurants
While Shopify for restaurants is a great POS system, it’s not perfect. Here are some pros and cons of using Shopify for restaurants.
- Easy to use: Shopify for restaurants is easy to use, even for those who are not tech-savvy
- Numerous integrations, including payment gateways – Shopify for restaurants offers numerous integrations, including payment gateways, which make it easy to accept payments from customers
- Modern UI – Shopify for restaurants has a modern UI that is easy to navigate
- Flexible pricing – Shopify for restaurants offers flexible pricing, which means you can choose a plan that fits your budget
- Lack of offline mode – Shopify for restaurants does not have an offline mode, which means you will need an internet connection to use it
- No in-built loyalty program – Shopify for restaurants does not have an in-built loyalty program, which means you will need to use a third-party loyalty program or create your own
- Limited customization – While Shopify for restaurants offers many features, it is not as customizable as some other POS systems
Shopify has three pricing plans: Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify.
- The Basic Shopify plan starts at $29 per month and includes two staff accounts, unlimited products, 24/7 support, and fraud analysis.
- The Shopify plan starts at $79 per month and includes five staff accounts, unlimited products, 24/7 support, and an advanced report builder.
- The Advanced Shopify plan starts at $299 per month and includes 15 staff accounts, unlimited products, 24/7 support, and Advanced Shopify Plus.
Please note that the specific pricing for Shopify can vary depending on the package and hardware. It’s recommended to contact Shopify directly for a custom quote based on your business’s unique needs.
All five of these iPad restaurant POS systems are versatile and feature-rich, and they can be tailored to meet the needs of a wide variety of restaurants.
Explore these systems further by visiting their websites and scheduling demos or free trials. Get hands-on experience with the platforms that catch your eye.
Start exploring TouchBistro’s streamlined operations or GoTab’s mobile ordering and payments. Dive into Shopify’s online retail tools or Lightspeed’s customizable layouts and inventory management capabilities. Or consider Square’s efficiency-focused features.