Toast is a big name in restaurant tech, but it’s not the only game in town. Want to explore options that might better suit your needs?
In this blog post, I will review 5 top Toast alternatives: TouchBistro, Lightspeed Restaurant, Square for Restaurants, GoTab, and SpotOn.
I’ll provide an in-depth look at each platform, including key features, pricing, hardware, pros and cons, and an overall assessment of how they compare to Toast.
With this guide, you’ll be equipped to evaluate the POS system that aligns best with your restaurant’s goals and requirements.
Reasons to Explore Competitors to Toast
Toast has become one of the most widely used point-of-sale systems for restaurants. Offering a robust feature set for order management, payment processing, staff management, and reporting, it’s easy to see why Toast is a favorite among many eateries.
However, Toast may not be the ideal fit for every restaurant. From contract constraints to rising costs, and payment processing limitations to customer service challenges, there are compelling reasons why you may want to explore some alternatives to Toast for your restaurant’s POS needs.
Read on to help inform your search for the right POS system beyond the default Toast option.
My Top 5 Toast Alternatives
Now, I will review some of the top competitors to Toast that are worth considering for your business. We’ll look at POS systems like Square, TouchBistro, Lightspeed, GoTab, and SpotOn, examining their standout features, hardware, pricing, integrations, and potential benefits compared to Toast.
If you’re feeling limited by Toast’s capabilities or find its contract terms and payment processing too restrictive, one of these alternatives could be a better match for your restaurant.
Designed by restaurant industry veterans
Best for independent full-service restaurants looking for a well designed, feature-rich and secure cloud/server-based POS system.
- Speedy & easy to use
- Commission-free reservations
- Excellent offline functionality
- Fewer integrations than competition
- Somewhat limited reporting features
TouchBistro is an excellent choice for independent, full-service restaurants, but also useful in managing operations for a variety of dining establishments.
Not only does it offer a visually appealing and intuitive design, but it also has an abundance of rich features. It further offers the convenience of a hybrid cloud/server system, which means your data remains secure and readily accessible.
Ease of Use: TouchBistro is among the easiest POS systems to navigate. Its user-friendly design allows for quick learning and mastery, making it perfect for restaurants seeking a hassle-free system.
TouchBistro is a versatile solution for small to medium-sized full-service restaurants, quick-serve locations, bars, and cafes that benefit from a robust Kitchen Display System (KDS).
However, larger chains, hotels, or other extensive businesses with complex multi-location needs may find it less suitable.
Why TouchBistro is an Alternative to Toast
Third-Party Payment Processing: Unlike Toast, which requires users to use its proprietary payment processing system, TouchBistro allows for integration with various third-party payment processors like Square. This aspect provides restaurant operators with a greater degree of flexibility and potential cost savings.
Lower Monthly Pricing: While both Toast and TouchBistro start pricing at $69 per month, TouchBistro could prove less costly in the long run when considering Toast’s reputation for increasing monthly pricing and payment processing costs.
More Features: TouchBistro offers several robust features that might not be available in Toast. For example, it features a new capable Kitchen Display System, convenient and enhanced tableside ordering, effective reservations management, online ordering without third-party commissions, and profit management in collaboration with MarginEdge.
System Compatibility: TouchBistro is designed explicitly for Apple devices, making it an excellent choice if your establishment already uses or plans to use iPads for its operations. Using iPads can offer a more user-friendly and visually appealing interface which can improve overall staff efficiency and guest satisfaction.
Innovative Features of TouchBistro
More information on TouchBistro:
My detailed TouchBistro Review provides an even more in-depth look into this restaurant POS system.
And finally, to try TouchBistro out, head over to touchbistro.com
Cleverly crafted POS with exceptional design
Best for food service businesses seeking powerful inventory, data insights, and retail features.
- Ease of use & interface design
- Reporting & analytics
- E-commerce capabilities
- Limited offline functionality
- Not the cheapest option
If advanced analytics and retail capabilities are important, Lightspeed is a robust restaurant POS choice. It provides easy-to-use tools to manage operations through actionable data insights that uncover menu performance, sales, staffing, and more.
With 200+ integrations, Lightspeed enables adding features as your business grows. The system also facilitates retail sales like merchandise, cooking classes, and other revenue streams, allowing multifaceted expansion.
For restaurants needing strong reporting and retail possibilities, Lightspeed delivers the information and flexibility to boost your business.
Why Lightspeed is an Alternative to Toast
Third-Party Payment Processing: Lightspeed supports integrated payment processing with competitive rates and notably, it allows the support for third-party processors. This is in contrast to Toast, which only allows its own payment processing system.
More Features: Lightspeed offers powerful tools for reporting and extra retail capabilities. It provides a user-friendly dashboard that displays real-time transaction data and an organized menu layout, which speeds up navigation, reduces wait times, and improves service quality. Furthermore, it provides advanced analytics to help business owners better manage their restaurants and understand their performance.
Retail Capabilities: Lightspeed offers an additional advantage for restaurants that also have retail operations, like company merchandise or packaged food sales, as the platform has substantial retail-oriented features. Depending on the nature of the business, this can prove to be a significant advantage compared to Toast, which primarily focuses on food service.
Better Customer Support: Restaurants should look into Lightspeed’s reputation for customer support. Given Toast’s reportedly largely overseas-based support, Lightspeed could provide stronger support, especially if it’s primarily US-based.
Noteworthy Features of Lightspeed
More information on Lightspeed:
My detailed Lightspeed Review provides an even more in-depth look into this restaurant POS system.
And finally, to try Lightspeed for free, head over to lightspeedhq.com
Square for Restaurants
The fast and easy-to-use system
Best for new or smaller food service businesses that want to start on a free plan and want to sell products online.
- Subscription free plan
- No long term contracts
- Integrates with the Square ecosystem
- Lacks some advanced features
- No on-site support
Square has evolved from a generic POS into a robust platform tailored for restaurants with Square for Restaurants. Its modern, user-friendly interface is apt for diverse food service businesses. Key perks include a free basic plan and powerful marketing tools.
The best restaurant types for Square include smaller venues like quick-service, cafes, food trucks, fast-casual, bars, and ghost kitchens. The intuitive interface, complimentary base plan, and built-in marketing capabilities make Square an accessible option for these streamlined operations.
However, full-service restaurants with complex workflows may desire more advanced features and customization. While not suited for every restaurant, Square offers a scalable POS solution for small to mid-sized ventures focused on simplicity and seamless customer engagement.
Why Square is an Alternative to Toast
Shorter Contracts and No Early Termination Fees: Unlike Toast, which requires a 1-year contract, Square offers more flexibility with a subscription-free plan and no long-term contracts. This allows restaurant owners to have greater control over their POS commitments without being locked into a long-term contract.
Lower Monthly Pricing: Square offers a free basic plan, and paid plans start at $60 per month, providing more accessible pricing options for small business owners. Toast, on the other hand, has a reputation for high monthly software fees and has been known to increase monthly pricing and payment processing costs over time.
More Features: Square provides several robust features that may not be present in Toast, easy-to-operate retail features, an integrated OpenTable solution, and a commission-free online ordering system. Square also has a strong focus on marketing, customer engagement, and loyalty programs.
Suitable for a Wide Range of Establishments: Square might be especially appealing for smaller restaurants, cafes, food trucks, bars and breweries, and ghost kitchens due to its versatility, retail capabilities, and free plan option.
Noteworthy Features of Square
More information on Square:
My detailed Square for Restaurants Review provides an even more in-depth look into this restaurant POS system.
And finally, to try Square out, head over to squareup.com
Excellent hardware options and no long term contracts
All-in-one POS solution with modern restaurant-specific features for fine-dining, QSRs, cloud kitchens, bars, and food trucks.
- Very feature rich
- Robust hardware devices
- Low credit-card processing fees*
- Requires SpotOn devices
- *Requires SpotOn Payment for low fees
SpotOn stands out as a leading cloud-based POS system for restaurants looking to modernize. This contemporary platform competes against top rivals like Toast, TouchBistro, Lightspeed, and Square that are replacing antiquated legacy systems.
Despite only being founded in 2017, SpotOn punches above its weight class by delivering robust features and add-ons comparable to far longer-standing competitors. Ideal for varied restaurant types including full-service, quick-service, bars, and food trucks, SpotOn provides all essential POS functionality plus advanced capabilities through its cloud-based solution.
Headquartered in San Francisco, SpotOn first tackled restaurants, retail, sports, and entertainment. But restaurants are now the primary focus. For restaurant owners seeking an intuitive and feature-rich modern POS system, SpotOn deserves consideration alongside its more established competitors. Its combination of next-gen platform, versatile functionality, and restaurant-centric focus make it a top contender for upgrading your POS operations.
Why SpotOn is an Alternative to Toast
Cross-platform Hardware: SpotOn is a Windows-based system, that provides its own excellent hardware devices as well as support for Android and iOS devices.
Shorter Contracts and No Early Termination Fees: Unlike Toast, which requires a 1-year contract, SpotOn’s POS system for restaurants is offered on a month-to-month basis, with no long-term contracts required. This gives restaurants the flexibility to cancel if they are not satisfied without incurring early termination fees.
Affordable Pricing: SpotOn offers budget-friendly pricing, with plans beginning at $25 per month when using their payment processing services. Even without using their payment processing services, the software is available at $195 per month – providing a potential lower-cost alternative to TouchBistro. Additionally, SpotOn offers low credit card processing fees, often lower than other POS systems, making it a potential cost saver.
Payment Processing: SpotOn offers competitive credit card processing fees when using their own payment processing with rates as low as 1.99% + $0.25 per transaction. However, if you choose not to use SpotOn’s payment processing services, your monthly cost increases from $25 to $195, making it less cost-effective for those who prefer an alternative payment processor.
Advanced Features: SpotOn is feature-rich with many modern restaurant-specific features such as online ordering, integration with Google for ordering, digital waitlisting and reservations, labor management, and reporting. The system’s design also allows it to integrate with the existing technology within a restaurant.
Noteworthy Features of SpotOn
The key advantages of SpotOn for restaurants include the integrated suite of features, user-friendly interface, robust hardware options, competitive payment processing rates, and advanced capabilities like online ordering and marketing tools. Its emphasis on customization also allows it to adapt to specific restaurant needs.
More information on SpotOn:
My detailed SpotOn Review provides an even more in-depth look into this restaurant POS system.
And finally, to try SpotOn out, head over to spoton.com
Easy-to-use mobile POS with a focus on eCommerce and contactless ordering and payment features. Card present processing fees: 2.40% + $0.15.
- Use your iPad or GoTab-branded hardware
- Excellent mobile order & payment solutions
- Free starting plan & no long-term contracts
- Complex Reporting Functionality
- Only available in the US & Canada
GoTab stands out as an innovative, forward-thinking POS system tailored to help restaurants navigate the digital-first hospitality landscape. Founded in 2016, GoTab focuses on contactless service, online ordering, mobile payments, and efficient staff communication to modernize restaurant operations.
With its intuitive interface optimized for web-enabled devices, GoTab makes it easy for restaurants to leverage their existing hardware without added costs. Robust capabilities like mobile ordering, integrated payments, real-time analytics, and streamlined staff collaboration provide restaurants with the tools to boost efficiency, better serve guests, and drive revenue.
As a POS platform built for the digital age, GoTab allows restaurants to deliver the convenient, connected experiences that today’s diners expect. By combining broad hardware support, user-friendly design, and features that bridge in-person and online operations, GoTab empowers restaurants to adapt and succeed in an increasingly competitive market.
Why Gotab is an Alternative to Toast
Advanced features: GoTab provides multiple sophisticated features such as contactless ordering, flexible menu & pricing setups, and auto-batching & tipping that Toast might lack. Its marketing features include tools for customer segmentation, dynamic pricing, auto-gratuity, and promotions management, providing increased functionality.
Lower Monthly Pricing: GoTab is often recognized for its cost-effectiveness. With its transaction-based pricing model, costs are directly tied to the volume of use, which can be more affordable for some establishments, especially when compared to Toast’s higher monthly software fees.
Customization: GoTab’s hospitality-focused platform offers a high level of customization. This includes tailored workflows and customer communication, enabling operators to mold the system to their unique need.
Reliability: GoTab’s dedicated support and multiple happy customer testimonials suggest that it’s a reliable solution.
Innovative Features of GoTab
GoTab enables a personalized ordering and payment process for every guest at your restaurant. With features like mobile ordering, diners can enjoy quick, secure service without the need for an app. This versatility allows customers to order and pay in the way that suits them best, either in-person, online, or via mobile.
More information on GoTab:
To learn more and to try GoTab out, head over to gotab.com
5 Things to Watch for in Toast Competitors
When considering alternatives to Toast, check if your chosen option includes the following attributes. Also, consider any unique features or qualities that align with your restaurant’s specific needs.
Shorter Contracts and No Early Termination Fees
Toast requires a 1-year contract, and charges an early termination fee if you cancel before the term is up. Some competitors like Square and GoTab have month-to-month contracts or no contract at all, offering more flexibility.
Third-Party Payment Processing
Toast processes payments through its own Toast Payments. Some alternatives like TouchBistro and Lightspeed let you use external processors like Stripe or Authorize.Net. This provides more choice in payment partners.
Lower Monthly Pricing
Toast has a reputation for high monthly software fees compared to some competitors. Options like Square offer transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing that can cost less per month. Toast has also been known to increase monthly pricing and payment processing costs.
Certain Toast alternatives excel in areas Toast lacks, like Lightspeed’s advanced analytics or Square’s robust e-commerce capabilities.
Better Customer Support
Some competitors boast stronger customer support reputations and US-based teams, which can be preferable over Toast’s largely overseas support staff.
The combination of lower costs, fewer contracts, more features, and better service is compelling enough for many restaurants to choose a Toast competitor that’s a better match.
Summary: What is The Best Toast Alternative for You
There are several reasons why Toast’s competitors – TouchBistro, Lightspeed, Square, SpotOn, and GoTab – might serve as better POS systems than Toast for certain restaurants. Here’s a summary for each:
TouchBistro: This system is known for its fast and easy-to-use tableside ordering and payment features and its customizable configuration to meet the needs of various types of restaurants. It also accepts multiple payment processors, allowing more flexibility compared to Toast’s own proprietary processing system.
Lightspeed: Known for its strong inventory management, robust reporting, and advanced analytics, Lightspeed also supports third-party payment processing, enabling a wider variety of payment options.
Square: Square’s merits include its flexibility with no long-term contracts, the ability to accept various payment methods, lower monthly costs, and robust features that include online ordering and marketing tools. It is especially applicable to smaller establishments like food trucks and cafes due to its retail capabilities and free plan options.
SpotOn: Notable for its month-to-month flexibility and low processing fees, SpotOn also boasts many advanced features including digital waitlisting, labor management, and reporting. Furthermore, its marketing and loyalty program features, along with its round-the-clock customer support, provide additional value to restaurant owners.
GoTab: This system is cost-effective with its transaction-based pricing model and offers comprehensive contactless ordering features. GoTab’s capability to integrate smoothly with other technological systems, including kitchen display systems and websites, makes it an appealing choice for restaurants seeking a versatile and affordable POS system.
It’s important to note that while these systems could offer potential advantages over Toast, the choice of a POS system largely depends on a restaurant’s specific needs, operations, and budget. Restaurants should evaluate these factors against the features, benefits, and costs of each system before making a decision.