Square for Restaurants is a well-known name in the restaurant industry, however, it’s not your only option. Think you might want to find something that aligns more closely with your unique needs?
In this article, I’ll be exploring 5 leading alternatives to Square: Toast, TouchBistro, Lightspeed Restaurant, GoTab, and SpotOn.
I will take you through an extensive overview of each platform, scrutinizing key features, pricing, hardware requirements, their advantages and drawbacks, and overall how they measure against Square.
With this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to evaluate the POS system that best harmonizes with your restaurant’s specific goals and necessities.
Reasons to Explore Square Competitors
Square offers an affordable and easy-to-use POS system that makes it a great free option for restaurants just starting out.
However, as restaurants scale up, they may face limitations with Square’s functionality.
The reporting can be complex for larger, data-driven businesses, and Square lacks some advanced features like robust inventory management. It also provides little customization, which growing restaurants need to tailor the POS to their expanding requirements.
While an occasional system outage may be tolerable, reliability becomes critical as the business grows.
Square’s ecosystem is a strength it could also restrict the flexibility to integrate with new technologies.
So while Square is an ideal free POS system for new restaurants, those that achieve growth may want to graduate to a more advanced, customizable, and reliable POS alternative suited for large-scale operations.
My Top 5 Square for Restaurants Alternatives
Now, I will review some of the top competitors of Square worth considering as your restaurant scales up. We’ll look at advanced POS systems like Toast, Lightspeed, and TouchBistro, examining their robust features, customization, reliability, and flexible integrations compared to Square.
If you’re feeling limited by Square’s lack of advanced inventory management, complex reporting, customization limitations, occasional outage, or fewer integrations as you grow, graduating to one of these more powerful alternatives could better meet your restaurant’s needs at scale.
The most innovative POS system on the market
Best for food service businesses that want advanced online ordering, take-out, and delivery features.
- Rapid development of new features
- Toast Takeout system
- Rugged mobile hardware devices
- Android only
- Locked into Toast payment processing
Lately, Toast has become a big name in the world of restaurant tech. It has grown fast and acquired other businesses to be a complete solution for people running restaurants. Toast’s goal is to be a complete commerce platform for running your restaurant.
Fast Company named Toast one of 2023’s most innovative companies. It has a big list of features for your restaurant, like handling payments, managing your menu and inventory, marketing and loyalty programs, staff management, controlling food and labor costs, reporting, and a lot more.
Toast can work with many different food and hospitality businesses: everything from full-service and fast-food restaurants to cafes, bars, and food trucks.
Because Toast can handle a lot of growth, it can suit businesses big and small, and grow with you.
Why Toast is an Alternative to Square
Advanced features: Toast offers a more comprehensive set of features, including real-time inventory tracking, labor cost control, business reporting, and customizable dashboards, which provide more extensive functionality compared to Square.
Menu management: Toast’s menu management is highly customizable, allowing you to easily handle seasonal or rotating menus. This is a significant advantage over Square’s more time-consuming menu management process.
Customization: Toast’s system is tailored to cater to a wide variety of food and hospitality businesses, enabling you to adapt it specifically to your restaurant’s needs. Square, on the other hand, offers limited customization.
Integrations: Toast offers an Open API, which enables you to integrate with popular platforms like Grubhub and Uber Eats, or even create custom integrations to suit your specific needs. This open approach is an advantage over Square’s more limited integration options.
Innovative Features of Toast
More information on Toast:
My detailed Toast Review provides an even more in-depth look into this restaurant POS system.
And finally, to try Toast out, head over to pos.toasttab.com
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 Square
Advanced features: TouchBistro offers several advanced capabilities that Square lacks, such as a sophisticated Kitchen Display System (KDS), commission-free reservations, and an enhanced reservations management system. These features bring added functionality for restaurants at various scales and can streamline operations.
Menu management: TouchBistro simplifies menu organization and management, allowing for easy updates to in-venue and online menus, and personalization of various order types. These features make it more efficient and less time-consuming compared to Square’s menu management process.
Customization: TouchBistro is designed specifically for the restaurant industry and offers a highly customizable system to meet the unique needs of a wide range of dining establishments. This contrasts with Square, which provides limited customization in its restaurant-focused features.
Reliability: TouchBistro’s stability and reliability as a hybrid cloud/server system help ensure that its users have secure and readily accessible data even during network issues, providing an edge over Square.
Integrations: Though TouchBistro has fewer integrations than some competitors, it still presents a more open ecosystem when compared to Square, allowing for custom integrations according to users’ requirements. TouchBistro’s integrations include Profit Management with MarginEdge and delivery services like DoorDash Drive, enhancing overall functionality.
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
Founded in 2005, Lightspeed is a leading global provider of cloud-based point-of-sale and e-commerce solutions for the retail, hospitality, and golf industries. With teams across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, Lightspeed serves businesses in over 100 countries worldwide.
Lightspeed’s unified hospitality platform is designed specifically to meet the needs of restaurants, cafes, bars, and other food and beverage establishments. It combines point-of-sale capabilities with integrated payments, inventory management, staff management tools, and powerful reporting insights.
As Lightspeed continues expanding its unified payments solution globally, many customers are already seeing benefits such as streamlined processes and cost savings compared to legacy systems and terminals. The company also frequently enhances the platform with advanced features like machine learning-powered analytics for restaurants.
For restaurant owners looking for an industry-leading cloud-based POS platform, Lightspeed provides a compelling option with global reach.
Why Lightspeed is an Alternative to Square
Advanced features: Lightspeed offers sophisticated features that Square lacks, as it combines point-of-sale capabilities with integrated payments, inventory management, staff management tools, and robust reporting insights. It also offers new features like machine learning-powered analytics for restaurants.
Menu management: While the information does not directly touch on menu management, Lightspeed’s organized menu layout that speeds up navigation significantly contributes to efficiency and improves overall service quality.
Customization: Lightspeed is highly customizable, catering to job-specific roles and enhancing security by safeguarding confidential data. This level of customization exceeds what Square offers.
Reliability: Lightspeed is hailed as a leading global provider, showcasing its reliability in consistently delivering services to businesses in over 100 countries worldwide.
Integrations: Lightspeed supports integration with more popular platforms like UberEats, DoorDash, and OpenTable, making it more flexible and open than Square.
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
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 is a leading cloud-based restaurant POS system that competes with other modern platforms like Toast, TouchBistro, Lightspeed, and Square. These new digital systems are replacing outdated legacy POS solutions from vendors like NCR and Oracle.
Ideal for various restaurant types including fine dining, casual dining, quick service, bars, and food trucks, SpotOn offers all the core POS features and hardware you’d expect. Despite being a relatively new player founded in 2017, SpotOn provides many advanced functions and add-ons comparable to longer-standing rivals.
Based in San Francisco, SpotOn initially focused on restaurants, sports, entertainment, and retail. But the restaurant industry is now its primary market. For any restaurant looking to upgrade to a contemporary cloud-based POS, SpotOn should be considered along with top competitors like Toast and Lightspeed.
Why SpotOn is an Alternative to Square
Advanced features: SpotOn offers a wide range of modern and specific features for restaurants, including online ordering, digital waitlisting, reservations, labor management, and reporting features. Its offering of low credit card processing fees, no long-term contract requirement, and a variety of hardware options has made it a popular choice in the hospitality industry.
Menu management: SpotOn has an order feature that allows staff to take orders from customers via various methods, such as at the table, counter, or through online ordering, and then send these orders directly to the kitchen or bar. It supports any customizations or special requests, providing flexible menu management.
Customization: This POS system allows for custom menu builds and table layouts, adapting to the specific needs of the restaurant. Its flexible system can be tailored according to restaurant operations, making it easier for staff to use – something in which Square is often limited.
Reliability: SpotOn’s unique approach is aimed at working fluently with other software and systems, providing an integrated and smooth experience. Although its offline functionality isn’t as robust as some of its competitors, it provides handheld devices that enhance overall efficiency.
Integrations: SpotOn stands out with its ability to connect and work smoothly with other software and systems a suite of digital marketing tools alongside a reservation system and a loyalty rewards program. It also integrates with Google Order. This provides restaurants with the ability to work easily with existing technology.
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 is a versatile and innovative restaurant POS and commerce platform founded in 2016 with a mission to improve the operation and service of the hospitality industry through technology.
Offering a range of features GoTab focuses on contactless service, mobile ordering, payment, and efficient communication. Its user-friendly interface, integration with various systems, and real-time analytics provide restaurant owners the tools they need to modernize their operations, increase efficiency, and drive growth.
GoTab works on virtually any web-enabled mobile device, meaning you can use your existing hardware and save costs.
Why Gotab is an Alternative to Square
Advanced features: GoTab provides multiple sophisticated features such as contactless ordering, flexible menu & pricing setups, and auto-batching & tipping that Square might lack. Its marketing features include tools for customer segmentation, dynamic pricing, auto-gratuity, and promotions management, providing increased functionality.
Menu management: GoTab enables operators to update menus instantly across all their outlets with its advanced Menu Management features. This includes the ability to handle complex and constantly changing menus, which is something that proves more time-consuming with Square.
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 needs, surpassing what Square offers in this realm.
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 Square competitors
However, here are some of the reasons to consider an alternative to Square:
- Advanced features – Look for robust capabilities like detailed inventory and reporting tools that Square lacks. Systems like Toast and Lightspeed offer more functionality.
- Menu management – Ensure competitors can handle complex, changing menus more easily than Square’s time-consuming process.
- Customization – Check for the ability to tailor systems to your restaurant’s specific needs. Square offers little customization.
- Reliability – Research uptime and outage history to avoid problems Square has faced (Source). Choose a stable provider.
- Integrations – Consider competitors with open ecosystems and abundant third-party integrations, unlike Square’s closed approach.
For restaurants needing advanced features, customizable options, complex menu support, reliability, and flexible integrations, Square alternatives are worth evaluating.
Summary: What is The Best Square Alternative for You
In conclusion, each of the POS systems – Toast, TouchBistro, Lightspeed, SpotOn, and GoTab – discussed here provide unique advantages over Square, making them potentially beneficial options for different restaurants:
Toast is a comprehensive POS system geared towards every kind of hospitality business. It stands out from Square through its robust inventory management and tableside ordering features. Toast’s POS software is more adaptable to the restaurant’s specific needs, providing notable advantages in customization and inventory management.
TouchBistro shines in its ease of use, the professional nature of the features offered, and its level of customization. It provides a more user-friendly interface and responsive customer support, making it potentially a more restaurant-friendly choice than Square.
Lightspeed offers powerful features not available in Square, including high-level POS capabilities, detailed inventory management, role-specific customization, and machine learning-powered analytics. Its open ecosystem supporting numerous integrations indicates that Lightspeed could be a more flexible and robust choice than Square.
SpotOn’s advantages over Square lie in its wide-ranging features, flexible menu management, custom menu builds and table layouts, and its ability to connect seamlessly with other software and systems, demonstrating it as a potentially better alternative for restaurants with specific requirements unfulfilled by Square.
GoTab outshines Square with some of its advanced features, the ability to handle complex and changing menus, a high level of customization, and extensive third-party integrations. It’s a contactless ordering system with sophisticated marketing tools and customer segmentation capabilities, indicating that it may be a more efficient and feature-rich choice than Square.
While Square forms an effective system for smaller food service businesses, these alternatives show promise for restaurants needing more advanced features, greater customization, complex menu support, high reliability, and plentiful third-party integrations.