What to expect in a POS system package ?
The point-of-sale system can make or break your restaurant – think of it as your outlet’s operating system. An inefficient one hinders your operations, frustrates service staff and is a hassle to change. Understanding what you are getting in your point-of-sales system is thus very important. Most POS vendors will provide their systems in packages, tailored to the kind of food business you are operating and the size of your outlet. There are many components besides the main point-of-sale terminal or computer, and it is more convenient for you to get everything from the same vendor. To give you an idea of what to expect when you are choosing the point-of-sale system for your outlet, here’s the list of items typically included in a POS system package.
1. POS Hardware
This refers to your main cashier, known as a point-of-sales terminal. You have probably seen the large monitors at which the service staff key in your orders or process bills. That’s known as a traditional or legacy point-of-sales system. Newer point-of-sales systems come in the form of cloud-based apps that are run on Apple iPads or Android devices. Instead of having a bulky terminal as your cashier point, you can have a sleek iPad on a secure stand that complements chic decor.
Each outlet will require at least two printers, one for the customer’s receipts and one for the kitchen. There are two types of printers: dot matrix (tend to be a little bit bigger) and thermal (newer, more commonly used now). Like the name suggests, thermal printers use heat instead of ink, so there is no need to keep buying ink cartridges. Dot matrix printers, however, allow you the option of printing 2- or 3-ply receipts.
3. Receipt paper rolls
These come in 2-ply and 3-ply paper for dot matrix printers. Thermal paper is useful because servers can easily strike off items that have been served using their fingernail, but the printing will fade after a couple of months.
4. Mobile ordering devices
Need to minimise the manpower needed to run your restaurant? Mobile ordering is a quick solution. Instead of having to take down orders on paper and proceed to the POS terminal to key them in one by one (delaying any bills or other orders that need to be processed at that same POS terminal), your waiters can confirm orders at the table using iPads or Android tablets. The orders are sent directly to the kitchen, saving time. These devices are usually add-ons to the basic POS system package.
5. Cash Drawer
6. Licence/ software
Most traditional POS systems run on proprietary software. Mobile ordering will be added on in the form of an “iPad licence”, one per device. In the case of Cloud-based POS systems, you will pay a monthly subscription fee for an account and have additional licences (cheaper than the base monthly subscription) for additional ordering devices.
Cloud-based POS systems need a reliable wifi network, even though some of them can run seamlessly when the Internet is down. Smaller spaces like kiosks, stalls, and pop-up events may prefer to use dongle routers with SIM cards for portability, and also because they only require one ordering device.
8. Dongle router
An alternative router for Cloud POS systems, this is for pop-up events or takeout food stalls that do not require more than one iPad or Android device.
Most traditional or legacy POS systems have basic inbuilt functions and will require modules to be installed for extra features. For instance, a there are customer relationship management (CRM), human resources (HR) and accounting modules.
10. Ethernet switch
This is an extension to the router to allow more than 3 printers (most routers only allow 4 printers; Apple Extreme allows 3). Smaller outlets will not need this.
11. Onsite training
The POS provider will conduct training on how to use the point-of-sales system for your staff and management in person. This training is limited to one or two sessions and you will be required to pay (usually by the hour) for additional sessions.
12. Installation & Setup
You will be required to submit your menu to the POS provider at least a week in advance of your installation so that they can input it. Some point-of-sales systems allow you to upload photos of the menu items so it is easier for your staff to recognise them. Installation is a one-day affair and your cabling should already be in place.
13. Support services
A one-time fee is usually included for phone and/or online support. It would be good to ask around and find out which companies provide good support because you will need it eventually. Some companies will include a limited number of onsite support visits, but most will charge per visit.
14. Mall integration
If you are opening your outlet in a mall, chances are that the mall management will take cut of your revenue, known as gross turnover (GTO). They will require your POS system to be integrated with their GTO system, and your POS provider will charge $1000 - $3000 for this integration.