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Targeted squarely at the restaurant industry, TouchBistro is a ready-made iPad-based Point of Sale for restaurants of all shapes and sizes – from quick food to full-service restaurants, bars, breweries, and food trucks.
Founded in 2010, it supports tableside ordering, custom restaurant layouts, custom menus, bill splitting, sales reports, and an unlimited number of order and cash register printers.
Along the way, TouchBistro has picked up a host of awards including best-rated restaurant POS of 2019, so let’s take a deep dive into how it works and features and tools it offers.
• Table mapping
• Table-side ordering
• Menu building
• Split billing
• Integrates with numerous payment processing providers
• Customer relationship management
• Inventory management
• Advanced reporting and analytics
TouchBistro is designed for restaurants, bars, quick-service food outlets, food trucks and cafés. It has an inherent hospitality focus dedicated to simplifying order taking, while improving and speeding up customer service.
The software allows restaurants to quickly design and input menu items, show the layout of the establishment and then use these features for quick transactions at the POS, or for tableside order taking.
In addition, the software is designed to make running a restaurant simple and transparent. It can account for the cost of inventory, drill down into ingredient amounts required to create each food type and then show profit margin of each menu item.
It also features low stock alerts, and has inbuilt staff management tools to track hours, staff performance and staff costs.
Quite simply, TouchBistro is software that can be accessed via the Cloud and iPads.
It’s currently is available in more than 100 countries and as at the end of 2018, was deployed in over 15,000 venues. However, using it is not as simple as downloading an app and subscribing online. Instead, restauranteurs need to contact TouchBistro to work through which licence option is best suited to them and the hardware that might be involved.
TouchBistro then works with the venue to set-up and roll out the software.
The software offers different levels of licensing depending on the size and type of venue in question. These venue types are broadly broken into the following categories.
• Full service restaurant
• Quick service
• Bars and clubs
• Food trucks
The number of licenses can range from sole operators right through to multi-outlet restaurants with numerous POS and ordering stations.
The features of the software can then be configured to a venue’s needs such as mobile order taking, tableside ordering, menu planning and customer relationship management.
The TouchBistro POS software is compatible with all iPad models, with the exception of the first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the iPad 3rd and 4th generations.
If a restaurant is using multiple iPads for POS and order taking, an Apple Mac Mini Computer or iMac is also required. This acts as the server or “the brain” of the system, storing all a restaurant’s TouchBistro data while syncing with all iPads, so changes on one iPad are made to all the others.
In addition, restaurants will also require compatible hardware like cash drawers, docket and receipt printers, payment processing card readers, and iPad enclosures and stands. They may also wish to utilise digital menu displays, kitchen display systems and customer facing displays.
TouchBistro offers hardware bundles that can be added to the software costs monthly. Alternatively, restauranteurs can source their own hardware but will need to ensure it is compatible with their iPads and the software.
A guide to hardware options is available here.
At the heart of the TouchBistro POS software is a truly intuitive menu management feature. This is where restauranteurs add the meals and items of their menu and change them when required.
The system allows menu items to be quickly added, cloned, and organised using a touch interface on the iPad. Images can also be added so servers can show pictures and descriptions of the menu item to customers, or patrons can see what they’re ordering when placing that order via self-service menu.
The software also facilitates modifiers prompting servers to ask what sauce a customer wants or how they would like their steak cooked.
In addition, staff can add custom modifiers to the order if a patron has specific dietary requirements or food requests.
If there’s a special on the menu or a promotion, these can quickly be added. Information about special items can also be incorporated, so staff have ready information about what the special is, how it’s cooked, the ingredients etc.
Meanwhile, cooking instructions and images for each menu item can also be included so new kitchen staff have immediate access to how something is made, and what it should look like.
In addition to being managed on-site, the menu can also be handled remotely. This means managers can quickly react to out of stocks, and specials even if they are not in the venue or are elsewhere in the restaurant.
Importantly, the system will automatically alert servers and managers when stock is running low or a menu item has run out.
These items can then be hidden from the menu so they cannot be ordered.
The menu management feature is also where managers can set protocols for what type of item routes to what area in the restaurant and which printer. This allows food items to be routed to the kitchen printer or display, bar items to go to the bar, and dessert items to go to the dessert section etc.
• Create and manage multiple menus and menu categories
• Use ingredients, descriptions and cooking instructions to help new staff learn menus
• Create and manage non-food items like packaged food or branded merchandise
• Create and manage optional and auto-suggest modifiers and side dishes
• Assign menu items to multiple ticket printers
• Easily search through orders by table, name, amount, date, and many more ways
• View takeout and delivery orders separately
• Specify cooking instructions and descriptions for each menu item
• Set discounts for all or specific menu items
• Hide menu categories for specific seasonal or time-specific menus
• Hide out-of-stock menu items
• Create color-coded menus to highlight or promote sales of specific items
• Easily edit orders with a swipe or a tap
Working alongside the menu building feature is inventory management. This feature allows restaurant management to track their item costs, profit and stock levels.
Each menu item can be broken into ingredients, right down to the volume involved and its cost per meal. When an item is running low, servers can immediately be alerted to low stock, and when a meal item is out of stock, that meal can be hidden from the menu.
Meanwhile, the detailed inventory tracking allows management to understand the profit margins of each meal, and whether that item is worth keeping or should go from the menu.
The inventory management feature also allows for:
• Creating personalized, detailed ingredient inventory tracking reports
• Customizable inventory countdown warning prompts
• Creating and managing restaurant inventory on a limitless number of ingredients along with the unit measure, wholesale cost, and retail price for each
• Marking a menu item out of stock instantly, disabling for all servers in real time
• Identifying out-of-stock and low-stock items with straightforward restaurant inventory control reports
• Improved purchase ordering with accurate, real-time restaurant inventory management
A key feature of TouchBistro is that allows for easy table management, no matter the size of the restaurant in question. Managers simply design a floorplan complete with walls and sections to represent their venue.
They can change this layout for special events or occasions where the restaurant might be configured differently.
Servers and waitstaff can then allocate parties to a table with ease when patrons make a booking or arrive at the venue. Parties can be moved quickly if necessary while managers can watch over sections to see where each table within a section is up to within the service period.
Meanwhile, staff can be allocated sections and tables for service periods, which are theirs to look after. TouchBistro has also incorporated section assignment and table transfer approval to reduce confusion mid-service.
Throughout service, the table management feature records how long the table has been seated, how much has been spent, and how many people are on it.
A major benefit of TouchBistro is that it allows servers to take their iPad directly to the customer with tableside ordering. This not only speeds up service and ordering, but also increases order accuracy.
In the meantime, TouchBistro offers some nifty features to encourage servers to up-sell and add on items in a bid to increase the bottom line. It also caters to food variations, and servers can send information to the kitchen about specific requests a customer may have.
TouchBistro offers a simple interface for ordering. Servers select the table number, add items off the listed menu with a tap, and when complete the order can be sent straight through to the kitchen.
The interface also allows for table positions so waitstaff can deliver the correct food to the correct person, and if there are variations on the menu item like different sauces or cheese, these pop up to prompt the waiter prior to ask and select the right option/s.
Order dockets can then be set up to automatically go to the right area, so food dockets are sent wirelessly to the kitchen, drinks to the bar, and desserts to the dessert area.
Orders can also be broken into courses, so the kitchen knows exactly what food should come out in what order.
TouchBistro offers restauranteurs and hospitality venues the opportunity to choose their payment processing partner.
They feature a range of suggested partner options which can then integrate with the POS for faster payment processing.
This eliminates double entry of payment amounts and allows for features like tableside payments and split billing. Because restauranteurs can choose their own suggested partner, they can also cater to the payment types hat suit their customers like swipe, dip or tap payments along with Google and Apple Pay.
The list of TouchBistro’s current integrated payment solution providers is here
The system allows for bill splitting so patrons at a table can pay for their meals or orders separately. They can do this at the counter or tableside.
Again, the interface makes this simple. Servers can swipe across seated position numbers to incorporate them into the same bill, or tap the table position number so patrons can pay for their own food.
If a bill is to be split evenly by all people who shared a meal, TouchBistro offers a ‘Split by #’ option that calculates the entire bill for the table then divides it evenly by the number of people dining.
TouchBistro offers employee management as part of the POS software but also integrates with other partners like 7Shifts to improve staff scheduling and reduce labor costs.
Included in the built-in employee management features are employee clocks which allow staff to punch in and out; PIN codes and permissions, which allow specific staff members access to the POS and the ability to change features depending on their role and responsibility; and wage tracking which shows the cost of labor and staff shifts with customizable staff types.
Meanwhile, management can also track overtime costs and staff performance.
Further staff management features include:
• Customize the POS per employee: Right or left-handed mode, dark and light mode
• Log in or out of the POS with a PIN or QR code
• Associate specific wages with each staff member’s roles
• Assign multiple roles to each individual staff member
• Add staff discounts for each staff member
• Set manager override on voids and discounts
• Restrict certain actions to certain staff types (e.g., payouts, item deletion, etc.)
• Lock waiters to sections and tables
• Adjust valid clock-in and clock-out times for staff shifts
A solid feature of this software is its ability to cater to customer relationship management. The system allows staff to add customer details directly to the POS on an iPad and each customer can be assigned an account number.
Notes can then be made on each account, indicating the customer’s preferences including their usual order.
In addition, the system then allows for billing that can add items directly to a regular patron’s account, illustrate balances outstanding or accept advance payments for events, groups or individuals.
Loyal customers can then be recognized for their patronage with special offers and incentives, while patrons’ order histories can be viewed to better understand how effective the menu is.
TouchBistro also has a loyalty and gift card feature so customer can collect and redeem points. Restauranteurs can also use the customer information to communicate with their patrons via SMS, push notifications and email marketing campaigns.
The system offers a wealth of reports to make the day-to-day running of a restaurant or café easier. These include staff reports, sales reports and more detailed analytics that look at all the areas where a restaurant might be costing more money than it should.
In total more than 50 reports are offered by TouchBistro, including:
• Total sales
• Menu item, category, and promotion Sales
• Statistical summary (avg spend, avg # of customers)
• Payments and payment types
• Shift, staff tips, and staff activity
• Discounts, voids, and deletions
• Taxes and general accounting
• Inventory tracking by ingredient
• Up to the minute in-shift snapshot reports personalized to each staff member and available at any time
• Comprehensive end-of-day summary reports generated automatically
These reports can then be exported to CSV, printed, and emailed for accounting purposes or to keep key staff in the loop about daily operations.
TouchBistro’s pricing varies depending on the size of the venue involved and the number of licenses required, but plans start from US$69 per month for the software.
This allows for one license, and is billed annually. Add a hardware bundle and then it increases to $105 per month.
Charges then go up in increments, depending on licenses required, use and the number of POS terminals involved.
Option 1 – Solo $69/month (software only and one license)
Recommended for quick service venues “that want the power of an iPad POS at their counter, but don’t require multiple terminals. This low-cost POS system pricing plan allows you to perform all point of sale functions on one iPad”.
Option 2 – Dual $129/month (software only and two licenses)
Recommended for “quick service venues and small restaurants that want the flexibility of two terminals. This plan allows venues to leave one iPad stationary and take another mobile to line-bust or take orders tableside”.
Option 3 – Team $249/month (software only and three to five licenses)
Recommended for mid-size restaurants or bars “that want the convenience and efficiency of always having a POS within arm's reach. This plan allows you to keep an iPad stationary in each of your service areas, or have servers bring them tableside”.
Option 4 - $399/month (software only and more than six licenses)
Recommended for high-volume restaurants or bars that want the freedom to scale their POS solution with their growing business. “This all-in-one POS pricing plan allows you to add iPads as your business grows and is perfect for venues that want to enhance customer experience with tableside ordering.”
TouchBistro prides itself on its customer support. Perhaps more importantly, these support staff also come from restaurant backgrounds so have a greater understanding of what’s required and what’s involved in running a hospitality venue.
This also means TouchBistro staff are available to assist at key hospitality times including New Years, Christmas, nights, weekends etc.
• Video support and how-to tutorials
• Online troubleshooting
• Phone support
• Set-up support
• Automatic software backups
• In-app screen shots that can be sent directly to tech support
TouchBistro is an extremely simple and well thought out POS solution for restaurants, eliminating much of the expense and hassle of the traditional fixed POS.
Because it is specifically designed for restauranteurs by restauranteurs, the system is intuitive, efficient and factors in elements of running a restaurant that other POS solutions simply haven’t considered.
It is renowned as being easy for staff to use, can assist with staff training and offers advanced analytics that provide an in-depth insight into the performance of a venue.
That said, it’s costs can soon add up. As each license effectively equals a register, venues with multiple registers and large teams do foot a significant monthly bill. On the flipside, it’s likely they always did pay a lot for their Point of Sale, so TouchBistro is a worthwhile investment when it comes to embracing efficiency and mobile flexibility.