POS (point of sale) systems are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your operating and food costs within your restaurant. A POS system fulfils the function of analysing sales, keeping track of customer orders and processing payments and ensures the smooth running of your restaurant.
Square is one of the most popular POS systems out there for restaurant owners and for a good reason - it’s cost-effective and compares favourably to the other POS systems on the market. That said, Square isn’t the only option available to small restaurants or restaurants looking to reduce costs.
Is Square a good POS system?
Before answering whether Square is a good POS system you may have realised that there are two different options available. Below is an overview of the difference between Square POS and Square for restaurants in features and cost.
Square POS vs Square For Restaurants
Square POS is your standard POS system which enables you to manage sales, payments, records, and more. It’s a slightly broader solution in that it could be used to manage a retail store just as easily as a restaurant. In a restaurant setting, it allows you to take payments, create orders and easily see what you’ve sold on any given day. Square POS works across different devices such as your PC, Android or iOS smartphone and also on an iPad.
That’s one important differentiation with Square For Restaurants - it works on iPads but not devices such as Android smartphones, tablets or iOS phones which could be a problem if you’re planning to use them to run your restaurant. (Both work with Square’s own hardware - e.g. the Square reader and point of sale kits).
The benefit Square for Restaurants brings, is that it has an additional feature set which is suited specifically to the operations of a restaurant. This includes features such as order management integrations for sites such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, ability to add service charge to payments, table maps and seating cover counts. This provides far better insight into how your restaurant runs day-to-day, than just sales alone.
When it comes to costs, this guide from Square provides a good overview of the two different options available but in a nutshell, Square Point of Sale is a more basic offering charged at a flat rate of 1.75% each time you process a card payment.
Square for Restaurants has a free plan (with certain features restricted) at the same flat rate of 1.75% processing fee per transaction. The paid Square for Restaurants plan has the same card processing fee, but charges an additional fee per month, per location. For this, you get access to advanced features for each location, for example live sales reports, closing reports and 24/7 support from the Square team. If you’re a venue operator working remotely, or managing multiple restaurants, you can see the appeal!
That’s the basics covered.
Let’s talk about overall pros and cons.
Square POS Pros
We can’t emphasise this enough, Square is ideal for small businesses.
Both Square POS and Square for restaurants gives new restaurant owners flexible options for scaling in the future. Their biggest advantage is price-flexibility with charges applied only once a transaction actually takes place. That’s a fair deal for restaurant owners who - when building clientele - want to avoid a system that bills them the same rate no matter what footfall and covers are looking like week by week, or season by season.
Built-in Customer Directory
In an information age where customers value personalised interactions, Square does a great job of tracking customer feedback and preferences, allowing you to personalise your service for each audience group. With targeted email marketing campaigns and personalised messaging, your customers will turn into your biggest promoters.
Square also offers an umbrella solution that includes everything you need to grow your business. They allow you to sell on-site and over the phone. Furthermore, Square’s core POS dashboard is accessible from any device. This allows you to track transactions in real-time. It supports Android and iOS and can be operated in Square POS offline mode.
Best of all Square integrates perfectly with growyze, allowing you to compare your stock against your sales. This gives you a true overview of your restaurant’s profitability and helps you to make more informed decisions about when to order stock.
Square POS Cons
For starters (pun intended), there’s a risk of fund holds. This happens because Square’s no-frills approach skips the traditional underwriting procedures. This policy has seen Square holding accounts and cancelling accounts suddenly as a fraud prevention measure.
Another con is that although Square POS software is free, the hardware and transaction charges add up. Solo traders and small restaurants may find Square POS affordable but larger restaurants with more foot traffic, may find costs mounting up quickly.
All things considered, Square’s features and service offering may not suit every business, while their cost for larger restaurants may not be within every budget. For this reason, we've narrowed down your search to help you find an alternative to Square.
Alternatives to Square POS for restaurants
1. Lightspeed Restaurant
Although Lightspeed Restaurant also caters to restaurants like the Square POS, it does differ in cost and cost structure. Square POS provides free software where you’re charged per transaction, whereas Lightspeed charges a monthly fee on top of a per-transaction processing fee.
Best for: Businesses in need of a little more support, positive product direction and accounting integration.
Lightspeed’s POS offers tremendous value with features like menu-building, employee scheduling, table management, kitchen tickets and loyalty management included in its restaurant service offering. Small businesses appreciate the support Lightspeed’s POS provides. Cost-wise, Lightspeed does provide a free trial but thereafter there’s a monthly fee per month for the relevant pricing plan and a sales terminal. You also then have a per transaction fee for any credit or debit card payment.
Toast is one of the most feature-rich POS systems available for restaurants, but does come at a higher processing fee per transaction, and monthly fee, than Square.
Best for: Toast is ideal for larger (and fast-growth) restaurants that are looking for customisable features that speak to the pain points they’ve had time to identify and understand.
Unlike many of the POS systems out there, Toast POS is specifically built for restaurants. This means that they have plenty of feature sets available, for example Toast Takeaways and Toast Deliveries, in addition to the standard POS feature sets.
For smaller customers, the Toast starter kit provides one sales terminal and the cloud-based features needed to take payments. However, everything else (online ordering, email marketing etc.) is only available as an add-on.
Further feature-rich options are then available for larger restaurant chains (up to 1,000 locations!) and every plan can be customised. This is perhaps the biggest difference between Square and Toast - the seemingly unlimited options available to customise and add-on different features, while Square only allows customisation for premium customers.
Revel makes open and closing each day simple and once implemented, lends itself well to managing a small-medium sized restaurant business
Best for: The majority of Revel’s customers are small restaurants and it’s best suited to those who have some knowledge of POS setup so that they can use the tools easily.
Revel is an all-in-one POS system that offers a little more than the average restaurant POS system. Their POS software offers table-side ordering, floorplan and table management, while the POS hardware offers iPad stands and Portable ordering device enclosures.
Revel also has restaurant POS services that allow you to manage and schedule employees. Where cost is concerned, Revel has a flat fee charged per month and installation. Support however, is only available online and not on-site or on the phone, which may be a problem for some customers.
TouchBistro allows you to integrate with several other software products that you may use to run your restaurant. These include Xero, Quickbooks, Sage, etc.
Best for: all restaurant sizes and best for those who want to integrate with other systems easily
TouchBistros features include table and reservation management, easy bill splitting, table-side ordering, multiple menu options and scheduled menu availability. Its pricing structure is designed in a way that allows for restaurants at any stage of business to use its product. A selection of licenses available.
Although pricier than Square, you do get more bang for your buck. Features such as numerous integrations that make accounting easier, staff management and tableside ordering, are all features that justify the slightly higher price point.
Posist has a 360 approach to POS systems, segmenting its products for several different restaurants and catering (again pun intended) to each.
Best for: large-sized restaurants that appreciate features that support growth.
Posist’s POS system offers 24-hour support with a 99% adherence to SLAs, a multi-lingual and intuitive interface, over 150 integrations and secure data backups. With large restaurants in mind, they’ve designed their POS software to scale with 99.9% uptime. When it comes to price, they’re not as upfront as Square is, offering a demo to their prospective customers.
In conclusion, while Square POS remains a great option for POS for small and medium restaurants who want to get up and running quickly, it certainly isn’t the only option out there. With plenty of alternatives to Square for restaurant POS systems, it’s worth exploring different options and determining which one best suits your needs based on: cost, availability of integrations, support offered and features available. Also, why not check the best POS systems for UK restaurants?
Control your inventory with growyze
A POS system is just one aspect that allows you to take your restaurant management into your own hands. Our stock management software controls your inventory in a way that minimises waste, prevents profit leaks and in turn, keeps your bottom line in check.
From the comfort of your mobile device, or any device for that matter you'll have an aerial view of your entire inventory process from stock orders, POS and sales and analytics and reporting. Book a demo today to see how growyze can make stock management a breeze.