What is a Restaurant Point of Sale System?

Terminology: “Point of Sale" vs “Retail Management System”

What is a POS system? Well, at its most basic definition, a point of sale system is a set of equipment which processes and records transactions between a company and their consumers, at the time in which goods and/or services are purchased.

When looking to learn about or purchase a point of sale system, it’s possible to get tripped up by the ongoing debate of the correct terminology. You may see one of several different terms used to refer to a POS system, including “point of purchase,” “retail management system,” and of course “point of sale.”

So which is correct? Well firstly, “point of purchase” is a very vague term—depending on context, it can refer to a checkout area in a store, the mall, market, or even the city where the store is located. For this reason, it’s fairly safe to assume that this isn’t the most accurate terminology.

The line gets a bit more blurry when deciding between “point of sale system” and “retail management system.” Unlike “point of purchase,” these two terms almost always refer to the same concept. As it turns out, “Retail management system” may, in fact, be the more accurate term, as these systems do much more than simply process a sale, and are involved with each step of a purchase, from the transaction to the reporting.

However, in spite of this fact, “point of sale” (or “POS”) remains the most-used term to describe these systems by both the companies that make them and the vendors that use them.

POS Software vs POS Hardware

It’s important to note that each and every point of sale system has two basic sides: the software and the hardware. The way these two components operate–independently and together–can have a profound effect on how effective the system is as a whole for any given environment.


In a point of sale system, the software is the component that affects the transaction the most: sales processing, tracking, reporting, and interconnectivity are all determined by the software.

Legacy point of sale software used to be relatively simple. Most were proprietary to individual terminals, which were largely disconnected from one another, unable to communicate information to anyone other than the person physically operating the machine at the moment.

The advent of the modern cloud-based system has revolutionized the restaurant business in a way that few other advancements can match.

Cloud-based POS software benefits your business in innumerable ways. They’re highly adaptable, cost-effective, and easy to implement in comparison to outdated legacy POS systems. They keep customers connected and engaged, and eliminate the risk of failing to meet industry standards or government compliance.

The most important benefit by far is its potential for scalability and adaptability. This means it will easily support the evolving needs of consumers and the market, keeping your business at the forefront of industry trends without constant system changes—we’re talking about a system that is truly future-proof.

cloud-based image


Two important features a cloud-based POS software can offer are:

Customer Loyalty Programs

Creating a custom loyalty program to drive new customers into your restaurant and retain your current clientele is a fundamental key to your brand’s success. As the business owner, you even have the opportunity to customize your loyalty program to fit your restaurant’s menu and revenue goals. Store important customer data and information, such as:

  • Historical buying habits
  • Favorite dishes
  • Birthdays
  • Previous order history
  • Contact information

Restaurants and retailers now have the ability to send special offers, promotions, or coupons to guests via emails or text messages. Loyalty programs allow businesses to track customer purchases, and reward them with a points system for every item or dollar spent.

Online Ordering

Cloud POS software provides restaurants the ability to implement online ordering onto their websites for their customers to take advantage of.

Online ordering via a website or mobile app is a valuable feature to take advantage of in order to keep your restaurant desirable in the eyes of Millennials and members of Generation Z, two of the most influential groups of consumers today.

By using features of cloud POS software such as Online Ordering and Loyalty Programs, customers can rate their experience, tweet comments, share their order, post a photo of their dish, or “like” a restaurant’s page on Facebook or “follow” on Instagram.


The actual terminal itself is the hardware component of a point of sale system. Point of sale hardware comes in a wide array of different forms and configurations, all designed for different uses and locations in a business.

When deciding which POS hardware is best for your restaurant, important factors to take into consideration include the environment it will be used in (kitchen vs front of house), how well it matches the aesthetics of your business, the lifecycle of the hardware, and how well it will adapt to your business’s changing future needs. When deciding which restaurant point of sale system is right for you, it is imperative that you look carefully at both its software and hardware components.



download e-book

previous page

next chapter