Long gone are the days where handwritten dockets lined the pass of any busy restaurant. For at least a decade computers have fulfilled this role - spitting out dockets and relaying information to the register courtesy of in-house point of sale.
But while this shift to computers undoubtedly improved restaurant operations and the consumer experience, increasingly restaurateurs are going a step beyond legacy point of sale systems and taking their enterprise mobile with their data stored in the Cloud.
In fact Hospitality Technology notes in 2017 more than half of hospitality providers (52%) say mobile Point of Sale capabilities will affect their next upgrade.
So here's a rundown on Cloud based mobile Point of Sale, what it offers and what you need to know.
What is mPOS?
Based on a specialised app and mobile devices including iPads, tablets and smartphones, mobile Point of Sale offers restaurants the ability to take orders table-side or input orders at a kiosk. Information is then stored in the Cloud, immediately relayed to the kitchen and register, and is even accessible to managers or business owners off-site.
The software usually comprises the downloaded app and a dashboard accessible via desktop that caters to more complex tasks like inventory management and restaurant analytics. The mPOS provider market includes a host of software options specifically designed for the intricacies of restaurants with major players including TouchBistro, Toast, Lavu and Revel.
Unlike fixed point of sale solutions, mobile Point of Sale tends to be more affordable than its location specific predecessor. Hospitality operators simply download an app, paying on a monthly or contract basis and roll it out across their devices. Hardware costs include iPads or tablets, tablet stands or enclosures, cash drawers, docket or receipt printers, and interne with wireless capability.
With data backed up to the Cloud, the system can be accessed from anywhere at any time. That means a manager or owner can quickly log in from home or holiday to understand exactly how a restaurant is operating. Data is usually stored and accessible in real time, making takings, inventory and even staffing information readily available.
Speed of orders
One of the key features of mPOS is its ability to speed up the order process. Wait staff can take their mobile device directly to the table inputting orders on the go, or quickly key it in at a nearby static kiosk. Information is then automatically relayed to the kitchen, bar or register.
Meanwhile, takeaway restaurants can use it to cut the length of the queue, with a staff member taking the POS to the consumers in line and processing their orders.
Like orders, payments can also be taken tableside, speeding up the completion of transactions, and bills can even be split.
All this information feeds into a host of vital analytics for the business operator including a wealth of data on busy periods, customer spend, and the success of promotions. This allows for the smoother operation of the business and the honing of required inventory.
The best mobile POS systems interlink with stock at hand, prompting the re-order of ingredients, and many even include staff handling software for rostering, and customer relationship management for email campaigns and promotions.
Things to consider
While all these are excellent attributes to invest in there are some things to consider before you order six iPads, and whip out the credit card to purchase mPOS. These include:
Any Cloud based service depends directly on your internet connection meaning if the internet goes down there is the potential for business to be impacted.
However a number of mPOS systems offer hybrid services that allow orders to be taken and payments to be processed even during an internet outage. Information is then backed up to the Cloud once the connection is reinstated.
Type of POS
All mPOS systems are not created equal and hospitality venues should look for software specific to their industry and individual needs.
Features to look for include:
- Tableside ordering
- Split billing
- Mobile payments
- Inventory management
- Staff management or software integration
- Accounting management or software integration
- Number of users
- Individual staff logins
- Customer relationship management
- Discount and customer loyalty
- Gift certificates
- Required or included hardware
The final word
In an increasingly mobile world where convenience is the biggest order on most diners’ menu, mobile Point of Sale offers huge benefits to hospitality providers both in terms of customer service and venue management.
The key is to ensure it meets all your needs and can handle the requirements of your specific business, whether that's a cafe, takeaway or Michelin star restaurant.