If you’re planning to open a restaurant, one of the most important but overlooked factors in your business is the point of sale system you choose.

The POS system is the heart that keeps your restaurant alive — it’s where all your money flows in, and it carries important information about your business analytics, your service stats, and more. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right POS system to fit your business.

Of course, a POS system’s importance means they come with a cost. Systems that have more functionalities will generally cost more, but how much functionality do you actually need for your restaurant? That’s the question you have to consider.

If you’re trying to keep your startup costs low, you may only consider your POS system’s price. But when selecting your POS, it’s important to take into account how much each available feature will benefit your business if you shell out the extra money for it.

There is a huge variety of POS systems available out there, so you’ll likely have to sift through a ton of information and different prices on your search. To help you out, here’s some info you should know about restaurant POS system prices.

POS System Hardware Costs

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The hardware is the physical component of a POS. The old cash registers at your local grocery store are POS hardware, and so are the tablets the barista can run your credit card with at the local coffee shop. There are just as many hardware options out there as software options, and the hardware will make up a good chunk of your POS system price.

In this day and age, practically every restaurant POS uses a touchscreen of some sort. This makes it easy to ring up and customize each item on the menu with quick navigation.

Some types of hardware, such as a mobile POS, come with a credit card reader installed. For others, you’ll have to purchase a credit card reader separately. The same goes for cash drawers and receipt printers. You may get an all-in-one POS system hardware set that comes with a cash drawer and receipt printer, or you may have to purchase them separately.

If you’re looking to save on costs, it might be best to go with an all-in-one hardware option. However, many POS software options allow you to install the software onto a regular computer or tablet (such as an Android or iOS device), so if you have a tablet already, you might opt to use that as your POS hardware.

There are even POS hardware options available that don’t require an employee to operate — self-ordering kiosks allow customers to submit their order and pay without having to interact with a cashier. GRUBBRR offers self-ordering kiosks in countertop, wall-mount and floor-standing varieties.

Hardware Costs: All-in-One vs. Separate Pieces

An all-in-one POS system hardware set from GRUBBRR has an MSRP of $2,499 and includes:

  • Two 15” screens, one acting as a customer-facing display
  • A credit card terminal
  • Cash drawer
  • Receipt printer
  • GRUBBRR’s efficient networking system

If you’re planning to buy hardware pieces separately, a similar dual-screen display alone can cost around $760. A cash drawer will cost around $90, and a receipt printer can cost about $225. A credit card terminal will run you another $270.

If you want to buy separate pieces of POS hardware, it’s important to ensure that every piece is compatible with all the other pieces. You don’t want to shell out all of that money only to find that your credit card terminal won’t work with your receipt printer. Connecting all the pieces into one POS system may require several steps, depending on the hardware you buy.

Self-ordering kiosks can range anywhere from $3,000 for a small countertop kiosk to around $10,000 for a larger wall-mounted or freestanding kiosk. They’ve got a heftier buy-in price, but eliminating the need for an employee means kiosks will save on labor costs in the long term.

If you’re looking to turn your tablet into POS system hardware, it’s a good idea to buy a case for it that will allow you to mount it on a stand or a wall, where it can be easily used by employees or customers. You can find such cases online, usually for between $60 and $90, depending on the type of tablet.

If you want a mobile POS but don’t already have a tablet that you want to use, GRUBBRR offers a mobile POS unit that comes with a built-in card terminal at a price of $999.

POS System Software Costs

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While hardware is the physical part of your POS, the software is what actually enables the transactions to happen — it’s the computer programs built into the hardware that submit orders, take payments, and collect data.

There’s no single best restaurant software, as every restaurant has different needs that must be taken into account. To decide what software you want, you should think about how many points of sale you’ll want to have, which POS features your restaurant needs, and your budget limitations.

Modern POS software offers a variety of features that you can use to improve your restaurant’s business model; this helps make restaurant POS system costs less of a burden.

You may not know a lot about which POS software features are commonly available, so we’ll take a look at some of the most important features.

Modern POS software is almost entirely subscription-based, meaning that you’ll be paying for your software on a monthly basis. This may sound unappealing, but it can also mean more bang for your buck — subscriptions mean you’ll usually have access to software updates, keeping your POS as secure as possible. You may also be able to get discounted hardware upgrades when it’s time for that, as well.

Your monthly fees will vary depending on your software provider and the features you receive. Buying subscriptions for more than one POS may also land you a discounted rate.

GRUBBRR’s POS software, which includes data collection and analytics, upselling suggestions, staff management, and table management, starts at $79.95 per month for just one POS. For 2, 3, or 4 POS systems, it drops to $69.95 per month, and if you have 5 or more, each subscription will only cost $59.95 per month.

For self-ordering kiosk software, prices start at $199 per month for one or two kiosks but drop as you add more. Adding online ordering to your POS system costs $69.99 per month.

POS Software Features

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Depending on the POS software you choose, features will vary, yet they all make business operations more efficient and improve the customer experience.

Data Collection

You may think customer data collection is only the business of technology corporations, but restaurants large and small have been doing just the same for years. Not only does data collection allow restaurant owners to learn a specific customer’s preferences in order to upsell more to them later, but looking at larger business trends can show restaurants which items on their menu work, as well as which ones don’t.

Especially if you’re opening a restaurant with a unique menu, using comprehensive data collection and analytics will allow you to rapidly adapt to your customers’ desires, helping you boost your sales and your profits.

Inventory Management

From grocery stores to restaurants to used car dealers, inventory management is an essential part of running any business. Before computers, owners just had to keep an eye on their stock and be careful not to run out of any items. Luckily, we can let the machines do that work for us now.

An inventory-managing POS can keep track of what’s coming in and out of your restaurant. When you sell a double cheeseburger, the software knows that you now have two fewer beef patties. By tracking how many patties you receive in a shipment, the system can tell when you’re running low, and if you want it to, it can automatically order more.

Inventory management software built into your POS can prevent any out-of-stock issues while also saving you time and money on having to manually track inventory.

Labor Management

Instead of having to worry about a separate time clock system for your employees, a restaurant POS can have built-in clock in and clock out functionalities. As an owner, this will allow you to easily keep track of payroll, manage employee schedules and stay aware of total labor hours.

Online Ordering

You could invest in a separate system to create an online ordering process, but some POS options come with their own integrated online ordering system. An integrated system means a seamless experience for your customers whether they’re ordering in-store or online. It also makes the order fulfillment process easier for employees, as online orders are received the same way as in-store.

A native online ordering system could also make it easier for your restaurant to launch its own delivery system. Around 8% of food service sales in the U.S. are made through delivery, and the value of the quick-service restaurant delivery market is over $25 billion.

You could simply outsource your food delivery to third-party apps like Uber Eats, but the service charges can eat into your restaurant’s profits. Having an in-house delivery system keeps your profits within your own walls.

These four are just a few of the common features that a modern restaurant POS may offer. Do some research to find out about more features that might be useful for your restaurant. Keep in mind that software features like these may also cost an additional upcharge.

Why Do POS Systems Cost So Much?

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POS system prices may seem unreasonable for technology that’s been around since credit cards became widespread and modern in the 1980s. On the hardware side of things, it’s important to keep in mind that POS hardware is still complicated technology that is expensive to produce, and that’s why POS prices can be so high.

Each piece of hardware also has to be designed to be as secure as possible. A cash drawer is a pretty simple product in and of itself, but to avoid theft, it has to be specially made to resist being broken open. Card terminals are connected to the internet, so they have to be specially protected from any sort of digital infiltration like hacking.

Modern POS hardware also now has more capabilities than it did back in the 80s. Old POS machines looked more like keyboards than they did tablets, and for restaurants, it was harder to make edits and customizations to menu items.

Modern POS hardware allows for far more flexibility with ordering, and most card terminals now allow for wireless payments, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. These added features mean a higher POS cost, but also a bigger boon for your business.

As for POS software, it’s much of the same reasoning — a modern cloud-based POS can perform far more functions than a legacy POS ever could, and constantly updating systems and securities have caused POS companies to switch from a single-cost model to software-as-a-service subscriptions.

Ultimately, modern POS systems save restaurants significant money in the long run because they:

  • Ensure order accuracy
  • Reduce wait times
  • Save on paper costs because they are entirely digital

Conclusion: Is It Worth the Investment?

In short: yes. A modern POS is more than worth the investment.

One way or another, your restaurant is going to need a POS. You could take the cheaper option and just buy a legacy POS like an older cash register and a normal card terminal, but that would severely limit your business opportunities.

Just as restaurant POS system costs have risen over the years, so have customer expectations. When they go out to eat, customers expect restaurants with contactless payment options, online ordering, and fast, efficient service. With the right POS, your restaurant can provide all this and more.