How to Choose a Cloud-Based Restaurant POS System

June 13 2018

Small to mid-size multi-location restaurant operators face some specialized challenges. Food truck and single location stores can get by with a basic POS and payment processing system. And large chains have enterprise IT support to manage their systems. It’s been tough for multi-unit operators to manage sophisticated POS systems that deliver the reporting and management tools they need at a price they can afford.

As hardware and software become dated, legacy systems that were installed locally are coming to the end of their lifecycle. The hardware may be dying, or the software is hopelessly out of date for today’s cybersecurity environment. It may be time to replace the server tucked away in the manager’s office at each location.

Or, perhaps your operations are expanding, and you’re looking for a POS solution that can grow with you, not hold you back.

Your answer may be in the cloud. Today, restaurant operations of any size can use POS solutions that operate via a secure Internet connection rather than an on-site installation. Also known as Software as a Service, cloud-based POS systems offer a range of benefits that deliver data-driven management insights and make operations more efficient. Experts say that cloud systems can reduce total cost of ownership by up to 40 percent.

While we don’t sell or recommend POS systems for restaurants, we have worked with many operators during this process. We’ve seen the benefits of transitioning to a cloud-based POS, and we wanted to share with you some of the top considerations when selecting a new system.

Installation

Restaurant chains that do not have an IT support staff will find adopting a cloud POS system to be much simpler. You’ll need POS terminals or mobile devices capable of accessing a consistent Internet connection. However, there’s no expensive back office server required. Some set up will be necessary to integrate with other systems, such as accounting and management reporting. But implementation will be much faster with fewer IT expenses.

Security is also another consideration. Cloud-based systems are regularly updated to guard against the latest threats.

Integration

With a cloud-based system, the days of the manager printing out daily sales reports from a terminal are over. Having a cloud based POS will maket sales data into your accounting system much easier, as the reports can be accessed online. Some cloud based POS systems have built in accounting exports or the capability of pushing sales data directly into the general ledger via API’s.

With a cloud-based POS, you’ll have real-time access to sales data from any computer or mobile device. Managers can track each store’s performance from anywhere. Look for a POS system that also integrates loyalty and promotion functions for rewards and discounts.

A new POS system along with up-to-date payment terminals can help you ensure compliance with EMV and PCI standards and also accept mobile payments and other customer-facing enhancements.

Scalability

Cloud-based systems can grow as your operations grow. You can get a new store up and running quickly because all your data and preferences will be available instantly. There usually are additional fees for setting up a new location, but often they will be less than a traditional legacy installation.

In addition, unlike legacy systems, subscriptions to cloud based POS solutions usually include the cost of upgrades and security enhancements. We recommend that these updates should not be setup to install automatically as soon as they are available. Instead they should be upgraded manually, usually months after new releases are issued to ensure that the software developers have had adequate time to resolve any know bugs in the new version.

Business Model

Typically, cloud solutions are less expensive to install and maintain. Legacy systems usually require purchasing a license for each terminal and annual maintenance fees, as well as any necessary hardware. A cloud-based system also requires a license and hardware, but it’s typically more inclusive of support and ongoing upgrades.  Plus, there’s a lower cost of switching should you decide to go in a different direction.

Of course, the needs of each food service establishment are different. Your POS system should integrate with your existing systems and support your business strategy.

Talk to Lester + Company about your accounting and financial strategies including cloud-based POS systems that can transform your restaurants. Contact us here.