POS Reviews

7 Best Restaurant POS Systems (2024)

Finding the right POS for your restaurant shouldn’t be a gamble. This definitive guide simplifies the decision by directly comparing seven top systems across must-have features, ease of use, and value.

This is what you will get:

  • Our picks for the 7 best POS systems
  • Tips to help you choose the right one
  • A clear comparison of what each system offers

The Top Restaurant POS Systems 2024

  • Toast – Best for restaurants embracing the future of dining with an all-in-one management solution.
  • SpotOn – Best for the tech-savvy eatery that requires an intuitive, handheld device for tableside service.
  • Lightspeed – Best for upscale eateries seeking powerful data insights, retail features, and integrations.
  • Square – Top budget pick providing subscription-free POS without complex capabilities getting in the way.
  • TouchBistro – Best for full-service restaurants with a user-friendly, iPad-based POS system.
  • GoTab – Best mobile POS focusing on eCommerce, contactless ordering, and payment features.
  • POSist – Top international pick providing localized solutions from small cafes to enterprise chains.

Note: Our reviews are reader-supported. We may earn affiliate commissions from links on this page. Learn more…


Toast has skyrocketed in popularity, and the POS is used by over 106,000 restaurants as of 2024. Its all-in-one platform conveniently centralizes essential tools into one easy-to-use system – integrating POS, online ordering, delivery, inventory, staff management, analytics, and more.

This unified approach replaces fragmented legacy setups to simplify operations. Eateries can start with Toast’s free plan and then flexibly scale by adding modules over time.

By consolidating key capabilities onto a single, intuitive platform, Toast makes restaurant management much easier. This convenience and flexibility fuels Toast’s massive growth.

Toast Go 2 Hardware Device

Toast saw the importance of the restaurant POS and responded by creating an all-encompassing solution tailored to the restaurant industry.

Toast Pricing & Hardware

Here is the pricing plan for the Quick Start Bundle, Core, and Growth plan:

Quick Start Bundle: Starting at $0/month

A great match for food trucks or single-location cafes, this shop-and-go option includes initial hardware and our basic POS software. Features include cloud-based point of sale and hardware setup including one terminal (additional charges apply for subsequent devices).

Core Plan: Subscription starting at $69/month

Ideal for any restaurant looking to streamline operations and provide faster service, with flexible options to meet your specific needs. This package includes powerful cloud-based point of sale with reporting and analytics, simple, flat rate payment processing with real-time fraud monitoring, mobile dining solutions, including digital menus and mobile payments, and 24/7/365 customer care, with installation support.

Growth Plan: Subscription starting at $165/month

A software bundle including online ordering and delivery software for restaurants looking to add more revenue streams. This plan includes everything in Core, plus Toast Online Ordering, Toast Delivery Services, and Toast TakeOut App.

Please note that additional features and software are available for each plan, and you can pair each plan with a hardware setup of your choosing.

Credit card processing fees: You cannot opt to use a third-party payment processor as Toast will handle all credit and debit card transactions for you.

Toast believes that customers should receive more than just transaction reports from their card processor. To achieve this goal, they combine their card processing service with technology that engages with customers.

The information gathered from customers can then be used by restaurants to understand them better and create more targeted marketing campaigns.

As for the fees, Toast customizes the rates for processing card transactions based on the specific needs of your restaurant. 

Toast is available in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland.

Toast is a restaurant point of sale and management system specifically crafted for the food service industry, designed with diverse needs in mind.

Whether you run a restaurant, cafe, bar, food truck, or coffee shop, Toast is tailored to support all types of food and hospitality endeavors.

If you are a growing restaurant with multiple locations, Toast would serve as the ideal solution. It simplifies handling menus, online sales, customer loyalty programs, and more, across all your outlets.

Toast caters to all restaurant types. Its pay-as-you-go options for hardware offer a flexible, scalable solution that grows with your business.

In summary, you’ll find that Toast is a top option for:

  • Restaurants
  • Cafes
  • Bars
  • Food trucks
  • Coffee shops

Toast Flex is a handheld device constructed for you to swiftly take orders and process payments. Its design is spill-resistant, allowing you to conveniently manage contactless payment types like swipe, dip, or tap.

Toast Go device

Designed for smaller establishments such as coffee shops and restaurants with minimal counter space, Toast Go is an all-in-one portable device. You can take orders, process payments, and print receipts without swapping gadgets.

Toast Kiosk offers your customers a self-ordering experience. They can pick their dishes using a large, interactive touchscreen display. Particularly beneficial for quick-service restaurants, this device plays a helpful role in reducing wait times and enhancing the customer experience.

The Toast Terminal is a comprehensive countertop setup, covering a touchscreen display, card reader, cash drawer, and receipt printer, all ready to go.

Toast customer facing display

Toast Display, a customer-facing setup, supports you in managing restaurant orders. It gives you the ability to monitor orders in real-time and handle your inventory.

Bear in mind, that hardware costs differ based on the configuration you opt for, and some devices come included in certain plans. Should you require a tailored quote, you should reach out directly to the Toast team.

Toast customer facing display

Key Features of Toast

Toast Tables is an exciting new platform for you to make restaurant reservations that compete with other services like OpenTable and Resy. The platform allows your customers to book a table or be put on a waiting list directly through your restaurant’s website or app.

In addition to these features, Toast Tables has extended its partnership with Google, enabling your restaurant customers to make reservations on Toast Tables directly from your restaurant’s Google Business Profile.

Toast Tables booking with Google dashboard detail

Key features for you as a restaurant owner:

Integrated Reservation and Waitlist Management: Toast Tables integrates with other Toast POS and Kitchen Display Systems. By using this system, you are able to handle reservations, waitlists, and orders in a single platform.

Real-Time Table Updates: You can use real-time updates for the table status to keep track of guest orders, order fulfillment, and payment for their meals.

Personalized Guest Profiles: With Toast Tables, you can make individualized profiles for guests. This feature can aid your restaurants in predicting customer preferences, acknowledging special events, and appreciating loyal customers or important guests.

Toast online ordering screenshot

Collaboration with Google: The collaboration with Google allows guests to book a reservation through Toast Tables directly on your restaurant’s Google Business Profile. This means that users who are searching for restaurants on Google can book a table on Toast Tables without leaving the search results page.

Cost Savings: You can use the system to avoid the expenses of third-party reservation platforms. You can pay a fixed monthly fee without any per-cover charges and select from various package options based on your seating policies.

Improved Capacity Management: The system simplifies seating capacity management for your restaurants, offering helpful features such as estimated wait times, automated notifications, and two-way SMS messaging. These features aid you in managing customer expectations and cutting down on no-shows.

Marketing and Loyalty Program Integration: Before their visit, guests are able to check out your menu and sign up for your restaurant’s loyalty program. This helps to encourage repeat visits by providing guests with valuable offers and allowing for ongoing communication.

Although Toast Tables has impressive features, it will be challenging for Toast to enter the reservation market that is currently dominated by major players such as OpenTable and Resy. However, Toast’s history of successfully introducing new services, such as online ordering, establishes a solid basis for this feature.

Toast Tables also allows you to manage your tables from anywhere in the restaurant using handheld devices.

This enables you to see who’s waiting for a table, add them to the queue as they arrive at the door, assign them seats when they arrive at your restaurant, monitor their progress through their meal, collect payment from each guest, and keep track of how many tables are occupied versus empty throughout each shift.

Toast Tableside Ordering and Payments

Tableside ordering and payments are becoming increasingly popular in the restaurant industry, and Toast POS offers solutions for both. With Toast’s tableside ordering feature, you can take orders directly at the table using a handheld device.

This allows for faster and more accurate order entry, as well as the ability to customize orders on the spot. Additionally, the tableside ordering feature can integrate with your kitchen display system, allowing orders to be sent directly to the kitchen for preparation.

Toast’s tableside payment feature allows for a seamless and secure payment process at the table. Your guests can split the check, add tips, and pay with a credit card or mobile wallet all from the convenience of their table. This feature not only improves the guest experience but also increases your table turnover and reduces wait times.

A key feature of Toast POS for your restaurant is its robust online ordering and delivery management capabilities. This allows you to easily manage online orders and deliveries.

This is one of Toast’s strong points and explains part of its huge growth. Your customers can place orders and pay directly online, with orders automatically sent to your kitchen display system.

The delivery management feature lets you manage deliveries in real time. You can track orders, assign drivers, and provide delivery status updates to customers. This streamlines your delivery operations, reducing errors and delays while improving the customer experience.

Toast order from Google search

Toast Online Ordering with Google

Toast recently launched Order with Google integration, allowing you to unlock a new online ordering channel. This enables smooth ordering directly from Google search for potential customers. They can order from your menu right on the search results page without visiting your site first.

Toast Mobile Order & Pay offers you a convenient, all-inclusive mobile ordering and payment solution. Your guests can simply scan the QR code to explore your menu, place an order, and pay right on their phone.

This feature is designed to help your restaurant cover more tables with reduced staff and increase revenue by allowing guests to order and pay from their phones.

According to Toast, restaurants that add Toast Mobile Order & Pay typically see an average increase between 10% and 12% in Toast processing volume.

Toast Contactless Payments

In the wake of the pandemic, contactless payments have become increasingly important in the restaurant industry. With Toast’s contactless payment feature, your guests can pay for their meals without having to touch a shared credit card machine or exchange cash. Toast offers you several contactless payment options, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and tap-to-pay credit cards.

Toast Go mobile device

Toast’s card reader is also EMV-compliant, meaning it meets the latest security standards for credit card transactions.

Toast’s contactless payment feature is fully integrated with the Toast POS system, allowing you seamless payment processing and real-time reporting.

Contactless payments not only provide a safer and more hygienic payment option for your guests, but they also allow you faster table turnover and reduced wait times.

As a restaurant owner, you want a POS system that integrates with a wide range of third-party apps and services, allowing you to customize your system to meet your unique needs.

Toast third party integrations screenshot

What I like about Toast is its open API, so you can integrate with popular apps and services like online ordering platforms, loyalty programs, accounting software, and more.

For example, Toast integrates with popular online ordering platforms like Grubhub and Uber Eats, allowing you to manage online orders directly from your Toast POS system.

Toast also integrates with loyalty programs like LevelUp and Paytronix, allowing you to easily track and manage your customer rewards programs.

In addition to these popular integrations, Toast’s open API allows for custom integrations with other third-party apps and services. You can even work with Toast’s development team to create custom integrations that meet your unique needs, whether it’s integrating specialized inventory management or custom reporting tools.

You will appreciate Toast’s robust integration options.

Toast POS Review Summary

Toast offers numerous features and capabilities in a single platform. Since 2011, Toast has rapidly expanded its offerings through constant new feature development and integration, delivering almost every tool a restaurant could need.

Highlights include full order, inventory, labor, CRM, analytics management, innovations like Toast Tables for reservations, and waitlist management with integrated Google ordering.

Toast is ideal for small to medium-sized restaurants seeking an affordable all-in-one management platform. Integrations like online ordering and delivery help small businesses compete with larger chains.

See our dedicated Toast page for a full review, as well as alternatives, news, and comparisons with other systems.

SpotOn Restaurant

Illustration of SpotOn POS

SpotOn is one of the top modern point-of-sale (POS) systems for casual and fast-casual restaurants.

With its cloud-based software, excellent hardware options, and features like online ordering and table management, it can replace outdated POS systems.

SpotOn delivers the expected POS fundamentals and advanced capabilities to boost restaurant operations. This includes integrated features like online ordering, reservations, and robust hardware options.

new SpotOn hardware

SpotOn Pricing & Hardware

SpotOn offers three main pricing plans for restaurants, each with different features and costs. Here’s a simple breakdown of each plan:

Quick Start

  • Ideal for: Small counter-service restaurants or cafes.
  • Subscription Cost: $0 per month.
  • Transaction Fees: 2.89% + 25 cents per transaction. (There are processing minimums that apply.)
  • Included Hardware:
    • 15” Station hardware bundle with a guest-facing display, among other items.
  • Software:
    • Cloud-based Restaurant POS software.
    • Access to a powerful dashboard for marketing, reporting, review management, and SpotOn Capital.


  • Ideal for: Counter-service restaurants needing essential employee and guest engagement features.
  • Subscription Cost: $99 per month plus $3 per employee each month.
  • Initial Hardware Cost: $850 outright or available through financing.
  • Transaction Fees: 1.99% + 25 cents for most card transactions.
  • Included Hardware:
    • 10″ Counter hardware bundle with a guest-facing display, among other items.
  • Software:
    • Cloud-based Restaurant POS software with added employee management features.
    • Commission-free online ordering system.
  • Additional Features:
    • More features and software options are available upon request.


  • Ideal for: Full-service restaurants looking for a fully integrated system with tools to boost revenue.
  • Subscription Cost: $135 per month plus $3 per employee each month.
  • Initial Hardware Cost: $1,350 for a Station and Kitchen Display System (KDS) hardware bundle or available through financing.
  • Transaction Fees: 1.99% + 25 cents for most card transactions.
  • Included Hardware:
    • 15″ Station hardware bundle.
    • Kitchen Display System (KDS) touchscreen monitor with Fresh KDS software.
  • Software:
    • Cloud-based Restaurant POS software with employee management.
    • Online ordering and QR order & pay functionalities.

Considering all of the features offered by SpotOn POS, the price is worth it. SpotOn Payments has very low commission rates on the Counter-service and Full-service plans, so for many types of restaurants, this is a good deal.

SpotOn is a versatile solution that is suitable for a variety of restaurant types. The types of restaurants most suited for SpotOn include fine dining, casual dining, quick service, bars, and food trucks.

Casual dining restaurants. SpotOn includes contactless ordering and payments, handhelds, online ordering, and reporting, among others. The system includes all necessary features such as custom menu creation, table layouts, quick ordering, and payments, as well as real-time updates and reports.

Quick service restaurants. QSRs can benefit from SpotOn’s essential features that including customized menu creation, quick ordering and payment processing, and handheld POS with contactless payment options. The system offers digital loyalty rewards that are integrated to encourage customers to return.

Bars. The system has a range of features for bars such as QR code ordering and payment options, handheld devices for quick ordering and payments, reporting, marketing and review management tools, loyalty programs, and other similar features.

At the moment SpotOn is only available in the US.

Your restaurant’s success is deeply intertwined with your choice of hardware. I believe that SpotOn’s hardware, a cornerstone of the complete solution it provides, could be a transformative asset to your operations.

Handhelds: Experience the advantage of speed and simplicity with SpotOn’s handheld point-of-sale (POS) systems. Compatible with your iOS and Android devices, these handheld systems also support peripherals like barcode scanners, cases, and Bluetooth printers.

SpotOn handheld POS devices

These handheld devices come with two functionalities – order only or full payment, enabling your staff to process orders or payments swiftly, from any location within your establishment. Tailored for ease of use, they are available in various sizes, and include cases, belt hooks, and hand straps.

Kiosks: Invest in enhancing customer experience with SpotOn’s self-service kiosks. These tools are engineered to eliminate long queues and serve more customers, offering personalized interactions. Quick add buttons, favorites, add-to-cart button scrolls are only some of the features that expedite the ordering process.

There is an added benefit: the kiosks suggest combos, add-ons, and upsell items, stimulating revenue increment. You can select from different models – countertop, freestanding, and outdoor – with screen sizes of 15″ and 22″.

SpotOn KDS

Kitchen Displays: SpotOn’s Kitchen Display System (KDS) augments your operations, presenting real-time order tracking. As soon as an order is placed, it heads directly to the kitchen, paving the way for customization. Your orders or individual items are also efficiently routed to dedicated stations.

Payment Devices and Accessories: SpotOn offers a variety of accessories like cash drawers, payment devices, barcode scanners, scales, and customer-facing displays. What makes it better is the ability to integrate them easily with leading payment providers, without overhauling your existing workflows.

To sum up, SpotOn’s arsenal of hardware devices offers an all-encompassing suite to meet any restaurant’s requirements. If you’re considering a POS solution tailored precisely for the food and beverage sector, SpotOn can become your ideal partner.

New SpotOn Hardware Devices for 2023

new SpotOn hardware

Announced in May 2023, SpotOn’s latest line of restaurant POS hardware includes devices such as the 15.6” Station, the 10” Counter, and the 6.5” Handheld.

User-friendliness is built into these devices: the updated software and larger screens on the Station and Handheld simplify menu and modifier navigation. For easy navigation, the Handheld’s user interface now clusters menu items, enables search, illustrates floor plans, and provides table status updates.

The new lineup of SpotOn’s hardware devices, set to launch later this year, promises to boost SpotOn’s standing in the restaurant POS market. Here’s a sneak peek into why:

Customization and Flexibility: The new devices offer multiple configurations, adjusting to the evolving needs of your restaurant. Choose the Station with an option of an attached or detached guest-facing display, a base payment reader, or a side-mounted payment reader. This customization ensures you select a setup that ensures streamlined operations.

Efficiency and Speed: Sporting an 18% larger touchscreen display and an easy-to-hold leather strap, the Handheld empowers seamless tableside payment. The Counter, specifically designed for quick-service restaurants and cafes, accommodates contactless and dip payments and includes an optional guest-facing display for enhanced speed and precision.

Durability and Reliability: Equipped with high-definition touch screens, these are IP54-rated devices, ensuring protection against dust and drink spills, making them reliable and durable.

Enhanced Customer Experience: These devices are primed to augment customer satisfaction. To illustrate, the Handheld’s screen rotates to face the customer during payment, whilst the Station and Counter’s customer-facing displays boost order accuracy and speed up checkout.

Future-Proofing: SpotOn has collaborated with FIS to evolve into a payment facilitator for its customers, offering improved control over payment processing. Furthermore, this partnership enables tokenization, facilitating SpotOn customers to understand their patrons’ preferences and buying habits for highly personalized experiences.

In conclusion, these new additions promise to strengthen SpotOn’s hardware portfolio with their superior customization, efficiency, durability, and user experience. Backed by robust support and service, the new devices are future-proof, making SpotOn an even more competitive player in the restaurant POS market.

Key Features

SpotOn offers the essential POS features you’d expect, like taking orders and processing payments. It also includes extras like:

  • Custom restaurant layouts and menus
  • Handheld devices for tableside ordering
  • Integrated online ordering and reservations
  • Inventory tracking and automatic reordering
  • Employee scheduling and payroll
  • Detailed sales and analytics reporting

It also has advanced features, like marketing tools and delivery management. The system is easy to set up and use, even for the less tech-savvy.

SpotOn reservations
SpotOn reservations

SpotOn Summary

SpotOn is an all-in-one restaurant POS with excellent hospitality hardware devices, industry-specific features, and flexible terms without long-term contracts.

Competitive credit card processing fees and low flat-rate delivery costs add to its appeal. However, limitations like reliance on SpotOn hardware and payment processing, weaker offline capabilities, and potentially costly optional features should be considered.

Despite these drawbacks, SpotOn remains a versatile, user-friendly platform that can boost operational efficiency. If you seek a POS system that simplifies work, adapts to your needs, and supports growth, consider trying SpotOn.

For more details on all major features see my complete SpotOn review.

Lightspeed Restaurant

Lightspeed for restaurants POS system

Lightspeed is for restaurants that need robust analytics to optimize operations and costs. Its dashboard provides visibility into sales trends, menu performance, staff efficiency, and other key metrics.

These insights can be used to adjust menus, manage labor, reduce waste, and identify growth opportunities through data-driven decision-making.

Lightspeed back office dashboard

Lightspeed allows customization and future-proofing through 200+ integrated app partners for reservations, loyalty programs, e-commerce, and specialized tools.

Lightspeed enables omni-channel revenue streams with e-commerce capabilities to complement dine-in sales. Restaurants can create websites to sell merchandise, offer virtual cooking classes, accept online orders, and more.

Lightspeed helps you run your business more intelligently through robust data analytics while opening up new revenue streams. It is a solid choice for restaurants wanting an all-in-one system with the flexibility to adapt.

Lightspeed Pricing & Hardware

Lightspeed Restaurant Essentials: $90/month (annual plan $69/month)

Features include: Menu manager, Mobile access, Takeout and delivery orders, Integrated payment processing, Reporting and analytics, Inventory, 24/7 support, Dedicated account management, Table Mode. 1 register.

Lightspeed Restaurant Plus: $246/month (annual plan $189/month)

All Essentials features, Loyalty program, Gift cards

Lightspeed Restaurant Pro: $516/month (annual plan $399/month)

All Plus features and Advanced insights, Advanced inventory. 1 register.

Additional registers +$34/mo
Add-on pricing starting at $12/month
Premium add-ons starting at $39/month

Transaction fees: 2.6% plus 10 cents per card-present transaction with Lightspeed Payments. Third-party payment processors are also available.

*Pricing at the time of publishing this guide. For the most current pricing, contact Lightspeed.

Lightspeed Restaurant POS is currently available in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Australia.

Lightspeed POS is suited for a wide range of restaurant types, thanks to its versatile features and customization options. Some of the restaurant types that can benefit from Lightspeed POS include:

Full-service independent restaurants: Lightspeed’s table management, reservation management, and CRM capabilities cater to the unique needs of full-service restaurants.

Cafes and bistros: The user-friendly interface, menu management, order management, e-commerce capabilities, and payment processing features make it a good choice for small establishments.

Quick-service restaurants (QSRs): The system’s quick order entry, efficient payment processing, and employee management features make it usable for fast-paced environments.

Food trucks and pop-up restaurants: The mobile compatibility of Lightspeed POS, including its iPad app, makes it an option for food trucks and pop-up restaurants that require flexibility and mobility.

Multi-location restaurants: The Advanced and Enterprise plans offer multi-location support, allowing larger chains and franchises to manage multiple locations.

However, it may not be suitable for all types of restaurants or food service businesses. For instance, larger and more complex restaurants that require more advanced inventory tracking features and employee scheduling options may find that the Lightspeed Restaurant POS system does not meet their needs.

Lightspeed hardware

There are several hardware options available for restaurants. These include an iPad hardware kit that includes a receipt printer, cash drawer, and kitchen printer but does not include an iPad or payment terminal.

There is also a Lightspeed iPad Stand by Vault, which is a restaurant-grade stand designed to mount an iPad securely.

Lightspeed restaurant examples of handheld hardware

In addition, there are several payment terminals available, including the Verifone e285, Verifone P400, and Verifone 400m, which all support tap, swipe, and dip payments and the e285 also supports tip entry and signature capture.

For a full list of supported hardware options, Lightspeed provides more information.

Lightspeed menu management

Key Features of Lightspeed

Benefit from Lightspeed’s advanced insights and analytics features to make informed decisions for your business. Customizable reports, dashboard overviews, and sales analysis help you identify trends, top-selling items, and areas needing improvement.

Speed up order entries and modifications with Lightspeed’s Order Management. Its table management tools keep track of occupied, reserved, and ready-to-reset tables. The feature also supports takeout and delivery options, offering your customers more convenient ways to order.

Lightspeed’s payment processing platform integrates AI and blockchain technology for a single, universal sign-on at any point of purchase globally. Each transaction is recorded on a private blockchain, potentially enhancing security and traceability.

Incorporated with its POS system, the eCom feature lets you streamline online orders and inventory management. Display menus online and let your customers place orders for delivery or pick-up. The integrated reservation system simplifies the table booking process, while options like in-store pickup and curbside services enhance the convenience for your consumers. You can lure customers with special promotions via discount codes and manage digital gift cards effectively.

The inventory synchronizations ensure a balance between your online and in-store inventories, preventing overstocking or understocking. With the platform’s seamless integration with delivery platforms like UberEats, Doordash, and a reservation platform, OpenTable, you can effectively widen your customer reach.

Lightspeed KDS is a software solution that displaces the traditional kitchen printer and positions orders on an iPad for your kitchen staff. It helps you to keep track of preparation time, lets your staff interact with orders, and sends automated alerts to the front-of-house on order completion. You can personalize display options according to different restaurant and kitchen necessities.

Lightspeed Review Summary

Lightspeed Restaurant is an innovative POS solution with robust analytics and an intuitive interface. It empowers restaurants with detailed sales, inventory, and staff insights for data-driven decision-making to optimize operations and costs.

Lightspeed also enables e-commerce capabilities to unlock new revenue streams.

The system is praised for its user-friendly design, global availability, and flexible hardware options.

However, Lightspeed is pricey, and initial setup can be challenging without guidance.

For more details on all major features, see my complete review of Lightspeed

Square for Restaurants

Square for Restaurants POS system

Square for Restaurants is a great solution if you need a free plan, smooth restaurant transactions, and easy-to-operate retail features.

I like this system because it is intuitive and easy for beginners. The interface is modern and looks great on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

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.

Square POS hardware

Square Pricing & Hardware

Free plan: There’s no monthly fee, but there is a transaction fee for each in-person sale. 2.6% + 10¢ for swiped or tapped card transactions. 3.5% + 15¢ when the card number is keyed in. Online payment: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction.

Plus: Includes more advanced features designed specifically for restaurants. $60/month for one device per location. +$40/month per added countertop POS device. (+ processing fees).

Premium subscribers get everything in the Plus subscription and custom pricing for add-ons like Square Payroll, Square Marketing, and Square Loyalty.

Example pricing of some add-ons:

Square Payroll +$35/mo then $5/mo per employee
Square Loyalty From $45/mo per location
Square Marketing From $15/mo per location

(Hardware is not included in the subscription. See hardware costs in the section below).

Contract length

A key advantage of Square’s payment processing is the absence of long-term subscriptions, providing flexibility in the usage of its services. You can opt for month-to-month payments and easily cancel your subscription anytime without penalties.

As a result, you can experiment with different business strategies while staying agile and adaptable to changing market conditions.

The Square app is available worldwide. Card payment acceptance is available in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, France and Spain (Source).

  • Smaller Restaurants: Establishments that offer a menu of food and beverages for customers to enjoy in a dining setting, ranging from fast food to fine dining.
  • Cafes: Small establishments that primarily serve coffee, tea, and light snacks. They often focus on providing a comfortable atmosphere for customers to socialize and relax.
  • Food Trucks: Mobile food service businesses that operate from a vehicle, serving food and beverages to customers on the go.
  • Fast-Casual Restaurants: A hybrid between fast food and casual dining, these businesses offer quality food with quicker service than traditional sit-down restaurants.
  • Bars and Breweries: Businesses that primarily serve alcoholic beverages, sometimes accompanied by a small food menu.
  • Ghost Kitchens: Delivery-only food businesses that operate from a central kitchen, without a physical dining space for customers.

Each type of food service business has its distinct set of requirements and challenges. Cafes and restaurants often need efficient table management and order tracking systems, while food trucks require mobile-friendly POS solutions. Fast-casual restaurants need quick order processing and seamless inventory management, whereas bars and breweries may require features like age verification and customizable drink menus. Ghost kitchens, on the other hand, rely heavily on delivery integration and online order management.

Types of Food Service Businesses Less Suited to Square

Square might not be the best fit for full-service restaurants with complex operations, as its features may not cater to all their needs. High-volume establishments, such as nightclubs or large event venues, may also face connectivity issues with Square. In such cases, Toast POS or TouchBistro could be more appropriate choices.

Square terminal

The Square Terminal can read all types of cards. You can use it for everything from taking payments to accessing your Square POS system to printing receipts to using all the features of Square’s app. The price for the terminal is $299.

Square contactless card reader

Square Reader for Contactless and Chip: Restaurants can now process payments more easily with the new Square Reader, which has improved Bluetooth connectivity, enhanced security, and longer battery life.

Square Stand Restaurant Station with cash drawer, receipt printer, and kitchen printer.

Square restaurant POS mobile kit device

Restaurant Mobile POS Kit for Square for Restaurants. Includes a Square Reader for contactless and chip (2nd generation), a phone case, and a Samsung Galaxy A32.

The Square Register is a countertop setup and a fully integrated point-of-sale system. No extra tablets or apps are required. Includes a touchscreen card terminal facing the customer and a built-in card reader. Costs $799.

Square mobile POS kit

Key Features of Square

Square allows payments through Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet, and all major credit and debit cards. Payments can be processed even in offline mode and also tableside via the Square Terminal. The platform is compliant with the Payment Card Industry standards.

  • User-friendly Interface: Easy to navigate
  • Affordable Payment Processing: Flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Strong Omnichannel Support: In-person, online, and mobile payments
  • Device Compatibility: Supports both Android and iOS devices

Square employee management feature offers scheduling, handling time-off or shift requests, access customization, and real-time reports of staff sales and costs. This feature is integrated with Square Payroll, offering automatic payroll, multiple pay rates, online accounts, and accounting integration with QuickBooks.

Square Online offers businesses a free platform to create their own mobile-friendly websites for online ordering. This can be a full website or a sales page integrated with your existing site. Orders are synced with your Square POS and kitchen equipment.

Square online website builder

The platform eliminates commission costs by offering options like curbside pickup, staff delivery, or courier delivery. For deliveries, couriers from DoorDash or Uber can be dispatched automatically. Your staff can also handle deliveries, with options for pickup also available.

Additional features include multi-location support, order tipping, multiple payment options, and connection to social media.

Order with Google

Restaurants can increase online orders with Order with Google. Customers can find the restaurant’s Square Online page using Google Search or Maps. They can order directly from the restaurant’s website, saving commission fees and improving profit margins. This also enables restaurants to collect useful customer data.

Square Marketing is an affordable, user-friendly tool designed for restaurants to manage their marketing, sales, and customer service. It offers benefits such as increased customer engagement, more repeat business, and improved brand awareness.

Square marketing assistant dashboard


  • Increased Customer Engagement: Personalized email/text campaigns targeted to specific customer segments, along with social media integration, encourage interaction and relationship building.
  • More Repeat Business: Automated campaigns and loyalty program help retain customers by offering personalized discounts or promoting new menu items.
  • Improved Brand Awareness: Collecting customer reviews and sharing promotional content on social media enhance brand visibility and awareness.

Square Loyalty

Reward regular customers with Square Loyalty through rewards or gift cards. Enroll customers at checkout with their phone numbers and send automated text messages on points or rewards. Customize reward levels and promote the program via automated text campaigns.

Square KDS streamlines back-of-house workflows for restaurants by offering features such as:

  • Real-time order synchronization between front and back of house.
  • Customizable ticket layouts, timers, and alerts.
  • Insights on prep times to identify and resolve bottlenecks.
  • Consolidated order views for organized fulfillment.
  • Prep station routing and expeditor mode to enhance order accuracy and speed.
  • Adaptable configurations for various kitchen setups and ordering channels.
Square KDS

Square Review Summary

Square offers an affordable, user-friendly POS solution for small restaurants. It includes integrated payment processing, inventory tracking, customer management tools, loyalty programs, and extras like free website building.

Square is praised for its intuitive interface, helpful features, and competitive pricing without commitments. However, it has limitations for eateries with advanced needs, including inadequate reporting, lack of customization, and inability to support intricate restaurant operations fully.

With strengths in simplicity and value, Square gives budget-conscious, low-complexity restaurants an appealing “starter” POS to build capabilities.

See our dedicated Square page for a full review, promotions, alternatives, news, and comparisons with other systems.


TouchBistro website 2023

TouchBistro is a restaurant-specific POS system with an intuitive iPad interface ideal for full-service eateries.

Key capabilities include point-of-sale transactions, table-side ordering, reservations, online ordering, inventory tracking, staff management, and sales analytics.

Top benefits include ease of use with minimal training, customizable features, and reliable customer support. Recent back-of-house additions like new Kitchen Display Systems aim to optimize efficiency.

TouchBistro screenshot of sales dashboard

TouchBistro Pricing & Hardware

I like the modularity of the TouchBistro pricing structure. You get a good deal at a low price and can choose from the selection of add-on options as your business grows.

Here is the pricing plan for TouchBistro and its add-ons:

Monthly subscription fee: Starts at $69/month for up to two setups

Add-on pricing (starting at):

  • Online ordering: $50/month
  • Reservations: $229/month
  • Gift cards: $25/month
  • Marketing: $99/month
  • Loyalty: $99/month

TouchBistro Payments (US only)is powered by Chase and provides pricing through an innovative cost plus pricing model. The solution supports all major credit and debit cards, as well as swipe, dip, tap, and digital wallet payments from Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.

TouchBistro Payments also offers an offline payments mode, allowing you to continue taking payments even when their internet is down.

Payment processing fees depend on if you use TouchBistro Payments (US only) or one of the available payment processing partners like Square. You’ll be able to use different payment processors depending on which one offers the lowest rate.

For example, Square charges the following: 2.6% +10¢ per transaction.

Please note that hardware and additional fees may apply to these prices. It’s recommended to contact TouchBistro directly for a custom quote.

TouchBistro is available in the US, Canada, the UK, Mexico, and over 100 other countries. (TouchBistro Payments is only available in the US).

Touchbistro makes it easy for many types of restaurants to connect, communicate and collaborate in a single unified platform that keeps track of all orders, sales, customer information, and more.

However, I think TouchBistro is best for small to medium-sized independent full-service restaurants.

TouchBistro is also a good fit for QSRs, bars, coffee shops, and other food service businesses that need a great Kitchen Display System (KDS).

Who is TouchBistro POS NOT for?

Touchbistro is not for large chain restaurants, hotels, or other enterprise-level businesses requiring multiple locations, sub-vendors, employees, and complex financials.

TouchBistro supports iPads, iPad Pro, or the iPad Mini and runs best on devices from 2018 or later. These tablets are used to take orders and process payments table-side.

A TouchBistro setup can include an iPad stand, receipt printer, card reader, router, and modem.

TouchBistro also sells accessories, such as a Self-Service Kiosk, customer-facing display, KDS, and Digital Menu Boards. TouchBistro may also make use of third-party hardware such as cash drawers, card readers, and receipt printers.

TouchBistro dashboard on iPad

Customizable Additional Hardware: Depending on the unique needs of your restaurant, you can mix and match different POS equipment such as cash drawers and receipt printers.

Hardware Setups for Different Venue Sizes: TouchBistro offers tailored hardware configurations based on the venue size and type of your restaurant. Whether you have a small or large venue, they have hardware solutions designed to fit your specific needs.

Integrated Hardware Support: TouchBistro also offers dedicated implementation specialists to provide round-the-clock support for your hardware.

TouchBistro suggests always purchasing the latest iPad models for the best experience and longevity of support. While they provide iPad stands, they also offer the flexibility for you to use your own. Their iPads are compatible with any iPad stands, allowing you to choose a stand style that aligns best with your restaurant’s look and feel.

TouchBistro dashboard on iPad

Key Features of TouchBistro

With TouchBistro’s online ordering feature, you can accept orders directly from your website, TouchBistro Dine, social media, and other platforms. Customers can opt for pickup, delivery, or schedule orders at their convenience. One major advantage is you retain 100% of profits without paying third-party commissions.

However, you’re limited to using your own drivers or DoorDash Drive; to use other delivery platforms like UberEats or GrubHub, you’ll need to employ Deliverect and pay associated fees. This feature increases revenue through multi-touchpoint ordering, integrates with TouchBistro Marketing for targeted promotions, and streamlines delivery operations with automatic driver dispatching.

With TouchBistro’s menu management, you can smoothly add, clone, and organize menu items, saving you time by automatically syncing changes to in-venue and online ordering menus. The feature includes upselling tools, with color-coded menus and high-quality images to assist in promoting items.

TouchBistro’s menu management also separates takeout and delivery orders from dine-in orders. Additionally, it includes personalization features for enhancing guest experiences and handling unique order requests.

The tableside ordering feature allows for orders to be taken directly at tables using handheld devices like iPads. This minimizes back-and-forth to the POS system and allows servers more guest interaction. The easy bill-splitting function enhances the checkout speed and customer satisfaction. Pop-up upselling prompts aid in boosting per-cover revenue.

Additional payment functions include dividing payments among different clients, processing various types of payments, sending digital bills and receipts, and adding personalized messages or tip guides to bills.

By offering TouchBistro Gift Cards, you can amplify your marketing efforts and sales. You can personalize gift cards for occasions like birthdays and holidays, and customers can make online purchases or opt for digital gift cards for added convenience. Customers’ gift card redemption via smartphones simplifies the dining process even further.

TouchBistro loyalty marketing screen
TouchBistro loyalty marketing screen

In partnership with MarginEdge, TouchBistro presents profit management features that enhance visibility over your restaurant’s finances. It provides real-time inventory tracking and cost management while automatically updating ingredient costs and quantities in your recipes.

This enables you to accurately calculate plate costs and adjust menu pricing based on profitability data. It also integrates budget tracking tools, allowing you to set targets and watch your spending across all business areas. By syncing with your POS, the profit management module bridges the gap between the front-of-house and back-of-house operations, simplifying strategy decisions and workflow.

TouchBistro KDS

TouchBistro Review Summary

TouchBistro is a top restaurant-specific POS system for managing operations efficiently. With an intuitive iPad interface, it combines specialized features like table-side ordering, online reservations, and kitchen display systems.

The ease of use is a major advantage, with minimal training needed due to the simple menu-driven design. Recent back-of-house upgrades aim to optimize productivity and reduce errors.

Despite some drawbacks with the inventory tracking setup, TouchBistro stands out as a versatile industry leader for full-service restaurants.

For more details on all major features, please see my complete TouchBistro review.


GoTab POS website

GoTab is a POS and commerce platform founded in 2016. It aims to transform hospitality operations through mobile technology. The system uses contactless ordering, frictionless payment, and real-time analytics to modernize the guest experience.

GoTab runs on any web-enabled device, allowing restaurants to leverage existing hardware. Key highlights include guest-centric features, dynamic menu management, and accelerated service via handheld POS options.

GoTab empowers restaurants to provide customized, convenient, and safe ordering by combining versatile POS functionality with tailored guest-facing solutions.

photo of GoTab hardware

Key Features of GoTab

Mobile Ordering: GoTab allows you to provide a tailored ordering and payment experience for each of your guests and give them a fast and secure service without needing to download an app.

Real-Time Menu Management: The system lets you quickly update your menu on the fly. This allows you to respond quickly to inventory availability, bring back favorite discontinued dishes, or add seasonal specials.

Contactless Ordering and Payment: GoTab allows your guests to browse your menu and place orders completely through their phones.

The GoTab Pocket POS is a powerful POS system designed to accelerate service efficiency in busy restaurants. This portable handheld device makes it easier for your servers to take orders and accept payments from anywhere in your establishment.

GoTab Pocket POS device

1. Tableside Convenience: With GoTab Pocket POS, your staff can quickly take orders and payments from the entire restaurant, saving time and effort.

2. Guest-Centric Service: This pocket-sized POS is almost invisible to guests, ensuring that technology doesn’t interfere with the dining experience.

3. Pay-at-Table Efficiency: Servers can leave the device at the table, allowing guests to split, pay, and tip at their convenience, thereby improving service levels.

4. Effortless Order Entry: The Pocket POS offers the speed and accuracy of a mobile POS without any bulky hardware.

5. Manage Products and View Sales Reports: This tool provides full sales metrics directly from the Pocket POS. It has product management flexibility, allowing users to adjust inventory levels, mark items 86 (out of stock), or delay products.

6. Built-in Manager Features: The Pocket POS features include order management, menu management, setting product delays, and inventory management. The convenience of these built-in features improves operational efficiency significantly.

7. Pre-Auth and Start Tabs Tableside: Servers can start a new tab or add onto an existing order right at the tableside. The device authorizes new tabs immediately to ensure that a payment is always attached to a tab.

8. Full Payments Flexibility: The platform allows for all kinds of payment methods directly at the table. Additionally, the platform facilitates contactless ‘tap to pay’ options and the setup of GoTab Pass RFID cards or wristbands.

  1. Efficiency: GoTab Pocket POS significantly reduces the time servers spend walking to traditional POS systems, letting them spend more time with customers. It enhances service speed and reduces table turn time.
  2. Customer Experience: With personalized and fast service, restaurants can improve their customer experience. The ‘pay at table’ feature adds to the convenience, making the dining experience more enjoyable for guests.
  3. Improved Accuracy: The digital order entry minimizes human error, ensuring the accuracy of orders.
  4. Sales Insights: Real-time access to sales reports allows restaurant managers to make quick decisions, facilitating optimum utilization of resources and increased profitability.
  5. Streamlined Operations: The built-in features like menu, order, and inventory management help streamline operations, making it significantly easier for restaurants to manage their daily activities.

GoTab Pricing

GoTab stands out with potentially significant cost savings and flexibility through its transaction-based pricing model.

  • No additional charges for essential products or support.
  • Option to buy your own hardware or opt for GoTab-branded hardware.
  • Feature-rich offerings catered to diverse business needs without additional costs.
  • Savings on processing fees through the “Open Tabs” feature.
  • Customized enterprise pricing is available.

Processing Fees:

  • 2.25% + $0.15 for Card Present Transactions. (When a card is tapped, dipped, or swiped in person).
  • 2.5% + $0.25 for Card Not Present Transactions. (When an order is placed through mobile ordering, card on file or manual entry).

Contact GoTab for a pricing quote for the Quickstart, Premium, and Enterprise plans.

GoTab Summary

GoTab offers an innovative yet user-friendly POS and commerce solution focused on accelerating service and enhancing guest experiences.

Key highlights include mobile order and payment options for customizable, contactless purchasing alongside tools to manage dynamic menus, kitchen display systems, and shared tabs.

GoTab flexibility allows you to tailor setups, leverage existing devices, and shift operations as needed while robust integrations streamline data.

Read our full review of GoTab


As one of the most widely adopted POS systems internationally, POSist warrants strong consideration, especially for multi-location quick-service, fast casual, and full-service restaurants that need rich functionality to centralize data and simplify complex workflows.

Operating globally across 50 countries, POSist powers over 18,000 restaurants, from fast casual spots to upscale dining.

Key highlights include unified front-of-house management, robust back-office tools for supply chain insights, extensive third-party integrations, in-depth analytics, and customizable reporting. Recent investments into contactless dining, online ordering, and a full restaurant management platform showcase POSist’s innovation.

While pricing can vary based on add-ons, POSist aims to provide restaurants with a flexible, scalable solution to centralize data and simplify complex restaurant workflows.

Key Features of POSist

  • Unified Front-of-House: Effortless management of dine-in, takeout, and delivery, complemented by swift server management and innovative contactless dining with instant digital menu access via QR codes.
  • Comprehensive Back-Office Tools: Offers real-time inventory tracking, a kitchen display system, and a centralized dashboard for seamless supply chain management, bolstered by anti-theft capabilities and comprehensive staff management tools.
  • Extensive Integrations: Features a marketplace with over 400 partnerships, integrating easily with accounting software, ERPs, and loyalty programs for enhanced operations.
  • Analytics and Customer Relationship Management: Delivers data-backed insights and incorporates a CRM for improved guest engagement and targeted promotional efforts.
  • Robust Reporting: Powerful reporting tools enable swift, clear insights into operations, aiding in strategic planning and effective promotions analysis.

POSist Summary

POSist is an intuitive, highly flexible POS system simplifying complex restaurant workflows. It unifies critical features like customer management, staff organization, robust reporting, and supply chain analytics under one platform.

Recent upgrades also showcase innovation in emerging areas like contactless dining. While add-on pricing elicits some user concern, POSist garners praise as an adaptable, industry-leading solution, making data-driven management achievable. It warrants strong consideration for all restaurant types, especially multi-location enterprises needing to centralize data for growth opportunities.

Best Restaurant POS – My Conclusion

As you’ve seen, many great cloud-based restaurant POS systems are out there. When reviewing the top systems, Toast stands out as a leader in the market. With its scalable software, customizable features, and integration capabilities, Toast can accommodate restaurants of all sizes and needs.

This flexibility, combined with its comprehensive restaurant management tools for order, inventory, labor, CRM, and more, makes Toast a dominant force in the restaurant software market.

Other top systems like Lightspeed, TouchBistro, SpotOn, and Square offer their strengths as well, so it depends on your restaurant’s specific requirements. But, if you need omnichannel order management, excellent data insights, and seamless growth capabilities as your business expands, Toast has the solution.

Though Toast’s availability is limited in many countries, TouchBistro and Lightspeed are excellent alternatives for those seeking a more widely available solution.

You might also like these restaurant POS comparison reviews:

Resources and FAQs

Key Selection Criteria
When evaluating restaurant POS systems, start by outlining your unique business requirements. Consider details like your service style, menu options, payment methods, and reporting needs. Some key criteria to evaluate include:

  • Ease of Use – An intuitive interface with flexible menu setup and easy order taking is vital for servers and bartenders. Look for systems designed specifically for restaurants.
  • Hardware – Handheld devices, kiosks, receipt printers, and cash drawers should integrate seamlessly. Ensure durability and portability for high-volume restaurant environments.
  • Integration – Choose a POS with seamless integration to accounting software, inventory systems, loyalty programs, and staff management platforms you already use.
  • Cost – Balance software subscription fees with hardware expenses. Factor in payment processing fees, maintenance, and employee training costs.
  • Features – Match core features like order management, payment processing, and reporting to your restaurant’s priorities. Additional features like online ordering and reservations may benefit your brand.
  • Customer Support – Look for responsive and experienced customer support in case technical issues arise during busy shifts.

Comparing Top Contenders
With your restaurant’s needs in mind, compare leading POS systems like Toast, Touchbistro, and Square. Contrast hardware options, plan pricing, and add-ons for each. Narrow down top choices by requesting demos.

To evaluate if a certain POS meets your requirements, you can either check the overall conclusion at the end of this article or continue to explore the feature-by-feature comparison for detailed insight into specific features.

1. Menu & Inventory Management: Change your menu items easily with this feature. You can also keep track of your inventory in real-time to know what needs to be replenished.

2. Staff Scheduling & Employee Management: With staff scheduling, you can quickly organize shifts for waiters, cooks and other employees and ensure that they’re clocking in and out accurately. The reporting feature will provide valuable insights into overall employee performance.

3. Table Management: Assign guests to their tables quickly and easily, ensuring that all your customers are served efficiently. On-table QR codes free up your staff’s time by allowing customers to seat themselves, to order themselves, and to pay their checks, all through their own devices. Some systems can have detailed floor plans and seat management.

4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): You can use your POS to manage your customer database. Create targeted email campaigns with relevant offers and messaging. The CRM can be used to automatically send offers to customers who haven’t visited your business in a while. Data analysis from your CRM will also give insight into which marketing campaigns are most effective.

5. Payment Processing: With payment processing, you can accept payments with ease, including credit cards and mobile wallets. Some systems also have Pay-at-the-table features.

6. Online Ordering & Delivery Management: Many restaurants want to be able to take orders online. If a system doesn’t offer online ordering natively, it should integrate with an online ordering and delivery service.

7. Reporting & Analytics: With reporting and analytics, you can gain valuable insights into your business with sales metrics, best-selling products, customer loyalty programs, daily sales, the restaurant’s busiest hours, staff performance and more.

8. Kitchen Display System (KDS): A KDS allows restaurant staff to monitor orders in real time, alert chefs when orders are ready, and check the progress of each order easily. The system also assigns orders to specific food preparation sections, so all items are ready simultaneously and duplicates are eliminated.

9. Split Checks: With split checks, you can easily divide orders between multiple people, ensuring each customer pays only for their own meal.

10. Loyalty Programs: With loyalty programs, you can reward loyal customers with discounts and other promotions that are tailored to each customer’s needs. A POS makes it easy for customers to earn and redeem their loyalty rewards.

11. Mobile/Tablet POS: Equip your waitstaff with table-side ordering tools, allowing them to send orders directly from the customer to the kitchen with real-time alerts that provide visibility into product availability.

12. Cloud-Based Solution: With a cloud-based POS system, you can access your data from any device with an internet connection and keep it securely backed up.

13. Online Reservations: Available in some advanced POS solutions, but most have integrations with apps like OpenTable for online reservations.

14. Third-Party Integrations: Many POS systems support integration with other systems, including accounting software, payroll services, email marketing platforms, and CRM solutions.

15. Retail & Online Store Capabilities: Some POS systems have integrated tools for selling retail items and creating an online store. Restaurants that also sell retail products can enjoy many benefits, such as increased sales and a larger customer base. Retail items can also increase foot traffic and create more marketing opportunities for the restaurant.

Identifying solutions for your specific type of restaurant is a good start in narrowing your choice.

Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR) need POS systems with enough speed and ease of use to quickly process orders and payments. A POS system designed for QSR should also include integration with digital menu boards so you can update menus and menu displays quickly. Support for self-service kiosks is also an excellent way to keep customers moving.

Full-service restaurants need POS features that allow customers to make reservations online or over the phone. If you want to seat guests quickly and turn tables fast, table management is a must. Wait staff can use table-side ordering with mobile Point of Sale units giving customers the convenience of paying at the table.

Fast-casual restaurants need a POS system with many of the same features as a full-service restaurant, but it’s also vital to make ordering faster. Table kiosks for self-ordering menu items and pay-at-the-table functionality are easy ways to make this happen. A POS system can integrate online order information with your kitchen display system (KDS), so that staff knows what to prepare. It can also print receipts and labels, making paperwork easy.

Feature by Feature Comparison Review

In this final section, I will compare the most important features of the top 5 systems against each other.

Part 1: Core Restaurant POS Features

Payment and Credit Card Processing

Understanding payment processing fees can be a difficult task for restaurant owners, as they might end up paying more than necessary, negatively impacting their profits.

Factors such as lack of transparency, intricate fee structures, and difficulties in comparing POS systems contribute to this confusion, leaving owners feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about navigating this crucial business aspect.

Restaurant POS companies primarily profit from payment and credit card processing by charging transaction fees. They encourage customers to utilize their payment processing services to ensure revenue generation, simplified support and troubleshooting, integrated reporting, and gain a competitive edge.

Although opting for a single company for both POS and payment processing offers convenience to restaurant owners, comparing fees and securing the best deal possible is vital.

Toast includes a built-in payment processing system called Toast Payments and doesn’t allow for any third-party payment integration. It operates on a flat-rate model and you need to get a custom quote from Toast.

  • Toast Payments is a required, integrated part of the Toast POS system.
  • Be aware of the long-term contract, potential fee increases, and early termination fees.
  • Understand the difference between card-present and card-not-present transactions and their associated fees.
  • Carefully compare fees and terms before committing to Toast Payments to ensure the best deal for your business.

TouchBistro includes an integrated payment processing solution called TouchBistro Payments, powered by Chase. TouchBistro also supports integration with third-party payment processors, offering flexibility in choosing a payment solution that fits your needs and budget.

  • TouchBistro Payments is an integrated solution that accepts a wide variety of payment types.
  • Key features include offline payment processing and tableside contactless payments
  • Be aware of potential fee increases during the contract and understand the terms of your agreement.
  • TouchBistro supports integration with third-party payment processors.
Lightspeed payment processing

Lightspeed has an integrated payment processing solution called Lightspeed Payments. It uses a flat-rate pricing model, and customized quotes are available for businesses processing over $50K. Third-party payment processor integration is available.

  • Lightspeed Payments is an integrated solution that offers a seamless, secure checkout experience.
  • The system accepts various payment types and card brands, including mobile payments and international cards.
  • Key features include quick, secure processing with no monthly transaction limit, built-in PCI Compliance, and clear payment reports.
  • Flat-rate pricing starts at 2.6% +10c, with customized quotes available for businesses processing over $50K.
Square payment processing promo illustration

Square is a popular payment processing solution known for its simplicity and ease of use, offering in-person, online, and remote payment processing options. The processing fees vary depending on the transaction type, with transparent pricing and no hidden fees. Square also provides custom pricing for businesses processing over $250,000 per year.

  • Square offers various payment processing options, including in-person, online, and remote transactions.
  • Transparent pricing model with processing fees depending on transaction type:
  • In-person: 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. Online: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction. Remote: 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: 6% + 30 cents per transaction
SpotOn payment devices

SpotOn has its own payment processing solution for a seamless and secure checkout experience. The system features a transparent, flat-rate pricing model, making it easier to predict processing costs and manage budgets.

Third-party payment processor integration is available, but if you do not use their payment processing services, you will be charged $195/month instead of $25/month for access to the software.

  • SpotOn’s payment processing solution accepts a wide variety of payment types and card brands, catering to a diverse customer base.
  • SpotOn charges a commission of 1.99% + $0.25 for regular transactions, which is quite low, but 2.99% + $0.25 for reward, corporate, international, and keyed-in card transactions.
  • Third-party payment processor integration is available but at a premium cost.

Order Management

Toast online order screen

Toast’s order management capabilities include:

  • Tableside Ordering and Payments: Servers can take orders and accept payments directly at the table using handheld devices, allowing faster, more accurate order entry and customization. Orders can be sent directly to the kitchen display system, and guests can split checks, tip, and pay with credit cards or mobile wallets.
  • Online Ordering and Delivery Management: Toast POS enables easy management of online orders and deliveries, with customers placing orders and paying through the platform. Orders are automatically sent to the kitchen, while delivery management allows real-time tracking, driver assignment, and status updates.
  • Toast Mobile Order & Pay: Guests can scan a QR code to view the menu, order, and pay on their phones, helping restaurants serve more tables with reduced staff and increasing revenue.
  • Contactless Payments: Toast offers contactless payment options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and tap-to-pay credit cards, providing a safer payment experience amid the pandemic.
  • Toast Online Ordering with Google: The Order with Google integration unlocks a new channel for restaurants using Toast Online Ordering to receive more orders.

TouchBistro’s order management features include:

  • Tableside Ordering: Servers can take orders directly from customers at their tables using iPads, reducing time spent at the POS system and enabling easy bill splitting and upselling prompts to boost revenue.
  • Online Ordering: Restaurants can accept orders through their website, TouchBistro Dine, social media, and other platforms without paying third-party commission fees. However, they must use their own drivers or DoorDash Drive for delivery, or pay applicable fees for other platforms via Deliverect integration.
  • Menu Management: Restaurant owners can easily add, clone, and organize menu items, syncing changes to both in-venue and online ordering menus. Takeout and delivery orders can be viewed separately from dine-in orders for streamlined operations.
  • Floor Plan & Table Management: TouchBistro offers tools for planning dining room layouts, assigning staff to sections, and tracking table availability, allowing for efficient table and seat management and reduced waiting times.
Lightspeed order screen

Lightspeed’s order management features include:

  • Table Management and Reservations: Staff can track table statuses for efficient floor management and improved customer service.
  • Online Ordering and Delivery: Customers can order online through Lightspeed’s platform or popular delivery services, consolidating order management in one place.
  • Payment Processing: Lightspeed supports various payment methods, including credit/debit cards, mobile payments, and gift cards, and is EMV-compliant for secure transactions.
  • Order Entry and Modification: Easy order entry, modification, and check management provide a seamless ordering experience.
  • Integration with Delivery Platforms: Integrations with major food delivery apps, such as UberEats and DoorDash, send orders directly to the POS software, expanding delivery zones and customer reach.

Overall, Lightspeed offers efficient order management and diverse ordering options for customers.

Square for Restaurants’ order management features include:

  • Table Management and Reservations: Create floor plans and efficiently organize layouts within the Square dashboard, optimizing space and minimizing errors with tableside ordering.
  • Online Ordering and Delivery: The free Square Online add-on enables mobile-optimized websites for online ordering, with orders appearing on the Square POS and kitchen systems. Offer curbside pickup, staff delivery, or courier delivery to avoid commissions.
  • Payment Processing: Square accepts various payment methods, including Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet, and major credit/debit cards. Process contactless transactions and tableside payments with the Square Terminal.
  • Integration with Delivery Platforms: Square offers delivery options with on-demand DoorDash or Uber couriers, without marketplace commissions, or staff-handled deliveries.
SpotOn order with Google screen

SpotOn’s order management features include:

  1. Direct Integration with POS System: Develop an online menu with orders transmitted directly to your point-of-sale system, streamlining pickup and delivery experiences.
  2. Take-Out and Delivery: Customers can order from your website, Facebook, and Google pages, with adjustable pacing and guest information storage for targeted marketing and repeat business. Delivery service is powered by DoorDash.
  3. QR Code Ordering and Payment: Enable tableside ordering and payment or contactless payment through QR code scanning. Group ordering allows guests to order individually and split checks by amount.
  4. Integration with Order with Google: Customers can find your restaurant on Google and place orders directly from your Business Profile.

In summary, all five systems offer robust order management features, including tableside ordering, online ordering, and delivery. However, they differ in their delivery integrations and additional features.

Toast and SpotOn stand out with their direct integration with delivery platforms, while TouchBistro requires third-party integration. Square and Lightspeed offer comprehensive features similar to Toast and SpotOn.

All systems provide real-time updates and detailed reports, helping restaurants manage their operations effectively.

Inventory Management

Toast allows for real-time tracking of inventory levels, helping to reduce waste from unused or spoiled items. It also provides valuable data and analytics to help businesses make informed decisions about their menu offerings.

The system tracks sales data and customer feedback, allowing businesses to identify popular items and trends and adjust their menu accordingly.

Toast’s inventory management feature is integrated with its other features. For example, when a customer places an order, the system automatically updates the inventory levels, ensuring accurate tracking of stock.

TouchBistro lets restaurants keep track of their stock levels, reduce food waste, and increase profit margins. It provides real-time reports on stock levels, helping restaurant owners maintain optimal inventory levels and make informed decisions on ordering from vendors.

A notable feature is its recipe-logging functionality. With recipe logging, restaurant staff can record ingredient details such as costs and quantities and build recipes directly in the POS system.

The menu items that contain the newly arrived inventory ingredients are updated automatically, saving staff time and minimizing the possibility of errors.

Additionally, customizable pop-up alerts can inform servers when an item is running low, reducing the likelihood of guests ordering out-of-stock items.

However, compared to its competitor, Toast, TouchBistro’s inventory management feature is considered to be more basic. Toast offers more advanced inventory management features, such as the ability to track ingredient costs and margins, view inventory levels by location, and set up automatic purchase orders.

Lightspeed inventory management screen

Lightspeed Restaurant tracks inventory levels in real time and provides alerts when stock is running low. This helps restaurant owners maintain optimal inventory levels and minimize waste.

The system also allows for supplier management and the creation of purchase orders, ensuring that the right amount of supplies is always on hand.

One of the standout features of Lightspeed’s inventory management system is its waste reduction and cost control capabilities. By monitoring stock levels in real time, the system ensures that only the necessary ingredients are used in each dish or recipe, helping to reduce waste and keep costs down.

Square for Restaurants allows restaurants to monitor their inventory levels in real-time. As menu items are sold, the system automatically updates inventory levels, helping restaurants avoid out-of-stock situations.

This feature is integrated with the menu management system, allowing for creating and customizing menu items, incorporating modifiers, and assigning individual prices for each offering.

However, Square for Restaurants may lack some advanced features other POS systems offer, such as in-depth inventory management and comprehensive reporting tools.

The reporting features have been noted for their complexity and lack of sufficient detail, making it difficult to search for specific information. Additionally, the process of reconciling sales to receivables is lengthy.

SpotOn also provides real-time inventory control, allowing you to manage your inventory from anywhere with updates, alerts, and front-of-house countdowns. This helps ensure that your staff never sells menu items that have run out.

It also offers hierarchical controls to manage your inventory for an entire enterprise or a particular location. With this feature, you can modify menu assignments, pricing, and permissions and implement changes across devices or locations.

Summary: The five systems all provide real-time tracking of inventory levels and aim to reduce waste, but differ in their advanced features and user-friendliness.

  • Toast’s standout feature is its integration with other system features, updating inventory levels as orders are placed, and providing valuable data for menu decisions.
  • TouchBistro, while good for basic inventory management, falls short in comparison to Toast’s more advanced features. It offers unique recipe-logging functionality and customizable pop-up alerts to inform servers when an item is running low.
  • Lightspeed Restaurant also offers real-time tracking with alerts, as well as supplier management and purchase order creation. It stands out with its waste reduction and cost control capabilities.
  • Square for Restaurants, while providing real-time inventory updates and menu management integration, lacks advanced inventory management features and has been criticized for its complex reporting tools and lengthy process for reconciling sales to receivables.
  • SpotOn Restaurant provides real-time inventory control and allows management from anywhere with alerts. It features hierarchical controls to manage inventory across an enterprise or specific location and enables changes across devices or locations.

Employee Management

Toast employee scheduling

Toast: Offers comprehensive employee management tools, including scheduling, time tracking, job role assignment, and payroll integration.

TouchBistro: Provides a basic staff management system, allowing unlimited users, and is designed to manage labor costs. However, its features are more basic compared to other POS systems.

Lightspeed Restaurant: Includes scheduling, time tracking, performance evaluations, permissions, and user access controls. Robust time tracking and payroll capabilities allow for efficient labor cost optimization.

Square for Restaurants: Handles scheduling, managing, and paying employees directly from the POS system. Integrated with Square Payroll, it offers automated tax filings, employee benefits, customizable pay schedules, and accounting integration with QuickBooks.

SpotOn Restaurant: Features SpotOn Teamwork, a comprehensive employee management tool with scheduling, time tracking, job roles, and payroll management. The SpotOn Teamwork App improves employee engagement by providing a single platform for staff to manage schedules, access tips, and receive communications.

In summary, all five systems offer employee management tools, each with unique features.

  • Toast excels in cost control and team management and has a high user rating.
  • TouchBistro, while user-friendly, is more basic than the rest.
  • Lightspeed Restaurant prioritizes robust time tracking, payroll calculation, and data security.
  • Square for Restaurants integrates employee management with its POS system and payroll service, emphasizing real-time reporting and payment automation.
  • SpotOn Restaurant stands out with its SpotOn Teamwork, focusing on schedule management, payroll accuracy, and employee engagement.

Reporting & Analytics

Toast POS: Imagine having a clear, real-time snapshot of your restaurant’s performance, including sales, staffing, and menu success. Toast POS offers you that. It’s like having a personal data assistant who crunches numbers and gives you valuable information to make your restaurant more profitable. 

TouchBistro: Now, imagine you have an assistant who sends you over 50 straightforward, real-time reports on sales, menu choices, payments, and staffing that you can read from your smartphone.

TouchBistro sales report

TouchBistro does just that. But, fair warning, if you’re looking for deep dives into sales, employee performance, and inventory, you might find it a bit basic.

Lightspeed: Lightspeed is like a personal business coach. It provides you with a customized view of your business performance. You can peek at real-time sales, inventory, and staffing data from your dashboard. Want to know who your top-selling employee is, or which menu item is a hit? Lightspeed has you covered.

Square for Restaurants: With Square, you’re getting a system that monitors your restaurant’s top-selling items, how your employees are doing with their sales, and how your business is performing in real time. It’s all neatly organized in your Square Dashboard. But keep in mind that the reporting tools can be a bit hard to navigate, and you might find yourself spending extra time reconciling sales to receivables.

SpotOn POS: SpotOn provides detailed reports on your restaurant’s operations. Everything from end-of-day summaries to daily sales recaps is included. However, it might not be as good as some others in spotting long-term trends, and some tasks, like reconciling deposits, still need a hands-on approach.

In summary, Toast POS is like having an eagle-eyed data assistant; TouchBistro is handy and uncomplicated but may lack some depth; Lightspeed is your personal business coach, while Square for Restaurants could make your life easier, but might be a bit tricky to navigate. And SpotOn POS, it’s like a co-pilot, although it may not see as far ahead as some others.

Table Management

Toast Tables waitlist dashboard

Toast POS: “Toast Tables” is your virtual maître d’. It’s linked to Google, so customers can make reservations straight from Google search. As an owner, it gives you a bird’ s-eye view of reservations, waitlists, and orders. And guess what? It’s personalized, so it knows your customers and their preferences.

TouchBistro: It’s like having a digital blueprint of your restaurant in your pocket. You can drag and drop tables to reflect your layout, assign staff sections, and link tables to specific reservations. You can even get analytics on table turnover to see how your staff is doing. It’s a simple, effective way to manage your restaurant floor during busy times.

Lightspeed: Imagine your ordering process is a well-oiled machine. Lightspeed does just that by integrating table management into its Order Management system. It keeps tabs on occupied and reserved tables, takes and modifies orders, and provides real-time updates. All from one platform!

Square for Restaurants: Square is your smart interior decorator. It lets you organize your restaurant layout digitally. Track how long your customers occupy a table, assign servers, and monitor available tables. And exciting news for 2023, they have integrated with OpenTable to help seat more guests and improve turn times.

SpotOn table management
SpotOn table management screen

SpotOn POS: SpotOn is like your digital restaurant manager. Design your table layout, send orders to the kitchen from a handheld device, and use SpotOn Reserve for smoother online reservations. A comprehensive tool to boost efficiency and communication in your restaurant.

In summary, all these POS systems have features to manage your restaurant’s flow, but each with its unique strength.

  • Toast POS focuses on integrating with Google and personalizing customer experiences.
  • TouchBistro emphasizes managing your floor plan and staff sections
  • Lightspeed’s strength is in integrating table management with order management.
  • Square is about optimizing your restaurant space and has new OpenTable integration.
  • SpotOn POS stands out with its handheld device for placing orders and collecting payments instantly.

Toast POS makes menu management easy. Customize your menu, tweak pricing, and track sales data to spot hot sellers. Plus, it’s linked with other features like online ordering, inventory, and reporting.

TouchBistro menu management screen
TouchBistro menu management screen

TouchBistro streamlines your menu changes and organizes items with just a few clicks. It offers upselling tools, handles takeout orders, and personalizes menus to enhance guest experience. 

Lightspeed Restaurant is all about user-friendly efficiency. Feature your star dishes, add dish descriptions, and manage price tags. Customers can customize their orders easily with modifiers and variants. Seasonal or event-based menu changes? No problem.

Square online menu creation
Square online menu creation

Square for Restaurants is versatile. Manage menu items, inventory, and pricing in one place. Customize menus for different times of day or special events. Its inventory management updates in real-time as you sell items. But, be warned, if your menu changes often or is complex, Square might not be as quick to update as other systems.

SpotOn centralizes menu management across all your sales channels. It ensures consistency and accuracy and integrates with other SpotOn features, simplifying a typically complex process.

In summary, all five systems offer robust menu management features.

  • Toast POS shines with its data tracking for sales and inventory.
  • TouchBistro excels in upselling and personalization.
  • Lightspeed stands out for its user-friendly design and efficient handling of modifiers and variants.
  • Square offers solid features but might lag behind complex, frequently changing menus.
  • SpotOn scores high for centralizing menu info across all your sales channels. Choose the one that fits your restaurant’s specific needs.

Part 2: Advanced Restaurant POS Features

Marketing and Loyalty

Toast email campaign creator
Toast email campaign creator

Toast has marketing and loyalty add-ons integrated right into its payment system. Leverage data from transactions for focused marketing and keep those customers coming back for more.

The Toast Loyalty program is an easy way for regulars to get rewarded and it’s simple for them to join either in-store, online, or on their devices.

TouchBistro loyalty marketing screen
TouchBistro loyalty marketing screen

TouchBistro caters to your marketing needs with TouchBistro Marketing – a tool specifically designed to ramp up customer engagement and revenues. Build your own web app, get feedback, send out updates, and flaunt those special promotions. Plus, you can craft beautiful emails using easy templates.

Their customer loyalty program, TouchBistro Loyalty, rewards customers based on their spending, and can be integrated with TouchBistro Marketing for a seamless approach to customer data and communication.

Lightspeed Restaurant offers a CRM feature for tailoring your marketing efforts to your customers’ preferences.

Reward your regulars with discounts or exclusive deals. Even offer gift cards to drive repeat business and encourage new diners. Overall, Lightspeed is all about fostering customer loyalty and engagement.

Square comes with Square Marketing – a tool that helps you manage your marketing, sales, and customer service. Launch personalized email and text campaigns, and even connect with your audience on social media.

Square Loyalty allows you to reward regulars and can be managed directly from the POS, allowing you to track sales and measure the impact of your loyalty program all in one place.

SpotOn marketing template
SpotOn marketing template

SpotOn packs in a bunch of features to enhance your operations and customer engagement. Its marketing automation tools include email campaigns, SMS marketing, social media integration, and detailed analytics and reporting.

SpotOn also has a loyalty add-on for rewarding customers, encouraging repeat visits, and enticing customers to try new things. With SpotOn, enrolling in the loyalty program and redeeming rewards is a breeze.

In short, all these systems offer great marketing and loyalty features.

  • Toast POS excels in integrated payment processing and easy customer sign-up.
  • TouchBistro stands out for its seamless integration of marketing and loyalty, and its easy-to-use email templates.
  • Lightspeed is all about personalized communication and a built-in loyalty program.
  • Square offers personalized campaigns and social media integration, with comprehensive loyalty program management.
  • SpotOn is an all-rounder with a strong focus on marketing automation and an easy-to-use loyalty program. Pick the one that suits your restaurant’s needs.

Reservation and Waitlist Management

Toast Tables reservation screen
Toast Tables reservation screen

Toast has a cool platform called Toast Tables, making it super easy to manage reservations and waitlists. It’s all part of the Toast family, so it works perfectly with other Toast POS and Kitchen Display Systems.

You can keep track of reservations, waitlists, and orders all in one spot. You also get real-time updates on tables, guest profiles, and even collaboration with Google for direct reservations.

Plus, it’s cost-effective and has neat features for capacity management and loyalty program integration.

And, Toast Tables has teamed up with Google so your customers can make reservations directly from your Google Business Profile.

TouchBistro Dine marketplace
TouchBistro Dine marketplace

TouchBistro brings you a commission-free reservations tool, so you can manage reservations without breaking the bank. It gives you insight into what your diners love, which is key to delivering amazing service.

The tool is part of the TouchBistro POS system, which means managing reservations and orders is easy and user-friendly. With the TouchBistro Reservations add-on, your customers can book their tables online, and you can easily manage reservations and customer data. 

Lightspeed’s comprehensive order management feature includes handy table management and reservations tools. These tools let your staff keep track of which tables are busy, reserved, or ready to be reset.

The system also links with popular delivery services and OpenTable, so you can manage all your reservations and delivery orders in one place, making things super easy for you and your customers.

While Square for Restaurants doesn’t have a dedicated reservation and waitlist feature, it does offer table management capabilities. You can create floor plans, manage the flow of meals, and take orders directly at the table.

They’ve also teamed up with OpenTable, so you can get real-time alerts on table status and give personalized service using reservation data.

SpotOn reservations
SpotOn reservations

SpotOn offers a full-featured reservation and waitlist management tool called SpotOn Reserve. This includes online reservations, digital waitlisting, contact tracing, and automated SMS confirmations.

It all works with the SpotOn POS system, making managing reservations, waitlists, and orders easy.

In summary, all five systems offer robust reservation and waitlist management features, each with its unique strengths.

Toast and TouchBistro stand out for their integrated systems that allow for seamless management of reservations and orders.

Lightspeed and Square offer comprehensive table management features, integrating Square with OpenTable for reservation management.

SpotOn stands out for its comprehensive reservation and waitlist management feature that includes contact tracing and automated SMS confirmations.

Retail and E-commerce Management

In the context of modern cloud-based POS systems, the focus is no longer only on transaction processing. POS systems are transforming and adding features that are designed to enhance commerce and customer interactions.

A rising trend among restaurants is the exploration of new income streams through the selling of retail products.

This could be branded merchandise, pre-packaged food items, or even gift cards, all contributing to an enriched customer experience and increased revenue.

In the following section, I will take a look at how the 5 POS systems cater to this expanding need for retail and e-commerce capabilities.

Toast: Its strong points lie in a comprehensive online ordering and delivery management system. It offers real-time tracking, efficient driver assignments, and customer updates.

Toast’s Mobile Order & Pay, along with its contactless payment options, make it a breeze for customers to order and pay, and the integration with Google gives your restaurant extra visibility. 

TouchBistro: This system shines with its multi-touchpoint ordering system. Not only can customers order through your website or TouchBistro Dine, but they can also use social media platforms.

The integration with TouchBistro Marketing lets you target promotions at your diners, making it an interesting choice if you’re keen on effective marketing campaigns.

Lightspeed: If you’re thinking of expanding your restaurant’s reach online, Lightspeed’s eCom system has got you covered. This includes everything from online reservations and curbside pickup to inventory management and promotions.

A unique feature is its ability to build a retail-capable website, perfect if you’re interested in selling branded products or gift cards.

Square Online website builder
Square Online website builder

Square: Square Online stands out with its free add-on that allows restaurants to build and design their own websites for online ordering. Its Google integration is also a great plus, making your restaurant easily discoverable.

Like Lightspeed, it allows you to build a website with retail capabilities, allowing for an extra revenue stream.

SpotOn: SpotOn provides a more customizable solution, offering flexibility in menu building and table layouts. It keeps the customer’s experience smooth with Google integration, online ordering, curbside pickup, and more.

Similar to Lightspeed and Square, it also offers website building with retail capabilities.

In summary, all the top five systems offer robust e-commerce platforms that support online ordering and delivery services. However, there are differences in their capabilities when it comes to reservations and selling retail items online.

Toast does not offer built-in retail systems, while TouchBistro does not support selling retail items online. Lightspeed offers both but requires a separate subscription for its e-commerce platform. Square offers a comprehensive retail solution, but its reservation system is not as robust as some of the other systems. SpotOn has website-building capabilities for a webshop with products.

Avatar photo

Jan is a writer and content creator at KitchenBusiness.com with a focus on the restaurant and food service industry. Drawing from his background in tech and UX design, Jan breaks down complex systems into digestible, actionable insights.

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