The restaurant industry has been quick to show interest in tablet POS solutions and software developers (both preexisting and start-ups) have been quick to react by flooding the market with a variety of tablet POS apps and full-blown software solutions.
With so many options and so much misinformation (often the Web site of one solution will include inaccurate comparison charts of its competition) out there, it’s no wonder resellers and end users are confused. Therefore, we wanted to create a resource to help compare software choices. After reaching out to the various tablet POS software providers for restaurant applications, we came up with the software packages you can see in the chart below (click on any to see their full comparison profile).
Let’s be clear about a few things. Just because a company is on this list doesn’t mean they are long-established. It doesn’t mean they sell through the channel. It doesn’t mean they have a significant install base. Rather than make our own judgements as to which companies are worthy to be on this list, we opted to allow any and all companies to participate. Why? If I was a reseller, I’d want to know as much as possible about every bit of competition out there, no matter how new, cheap, feature-rich or -poor, or who can sell it. Your customers will still do their own Internet research and come across these companies, so why not arm yourself with information so you’re not taken by surprise when they’re brought up? If I was an end user, I want as much detail as possible about all options.
Don’t see your vendor of choice? Not for lack of trying. Just as with past product reviews/comparisons, some companies just didn’t want to be included in the round-up or didn’t respond to our multiple contact attempts.
As far as comparing these hospitality and restaurant tablet POS solutions, we had a long list of features and functions to consider. The problem we encountered was that, inevitably, we didn’t have time or space to include every restaurant-related feature out there. Additionally, despite many a protest from established POS developers who’ve spent years building and refining thousands of features into their software, all those features aren’t necessary and many business-owners are willing to sacrifice unused features for lower-cost mobile offerings.
Therefore, with the help of some of our restaurant IT reseller readers and a few restaurant veterans, we came up with a “must-have” list of restaurant and hospitality features (see the table to right which shows the features and possible answers we sought from each vendor). Even that short list wound up being quite long and I’m sure you’ll take issue with items that you feel shouldn’t be included or are missing.
|Are modifiers Supported?
||[yes, yes w/ forced requirements when needed, no]
|Ability to pay at table?
|Ingredient & Recipe Tracking?
|| [yes, no]
|Happy hour pricing?
|| [yes, no]
|Split checks (guest, number of ways, both, none)
||[by guest, by number/percentage, both, none]
|Can you split a bottle of wine between two guests?
|Can you do bar tabs?
|Ring up combo meals?
||[yes, yes with auto-combo, no]
|Support for online ordering of food on restaurant web site?
|Allow multiple/different menus?
|Ability to pre-authorize a credit card when a customer starts a tab to verify the card is good?
|| [yes, no]
|Kitchen printer Support?
|Multiple kitchen printer support?
|Kitchen video system support?
|Can you send an order to the kitchen by course, instead of as it was rung?
|Caller ID Integration?
Must-Have Restaurant POS Features
I have to admit something. When I embarked on the mission to compare the various hospitality tablet POS software options available today, I fully expected the new guys to come up short when compared with the incumbents. Spoiler: the new guys make a very strong showing.
Indeed, apart from a couple software packages, the basic “must-have” functionality is covered. While I could editorialize on each feature and function, there’s going to be a whole lot of “they almost all support it.” It appears as if these companies have been busy with enhancements and ensuring the needs of restaurateurs are met. Therefore, makes more sense to simply report the few areas that certain products came up short.
Revel Systems, one of the most popular and heavily-funded iPad-based solutions of 2013, has a very robust feature set, but stated it cannot currently pre-authorize credit cards. Such functionality is “coming in 2014.”
MICROS Simphony, Entrepreneur by Bepoz, and POS Lavu had all of the must-have features other than caller ID integration. 2TouchPOS lacks the ability to pay at the table.
Square Register was missing a handful of restaurant-specific features such as ingredient and recipe tracking, the ability to split checks, do bar tabs, pre-authorize cards, kitchen printing, kitchen video, and caller ID integration.
NCR Silver is missing support for ingredient and recipe tracking, happy hour pricing, online ordering, the ability to pre-authorize credit cards, kitchen video, the ability to send an order to the kitchen by course, and caller ID integration.
I can’t say I’m surprised with either Square or Silver, but my lack of surprise isn’t an indictment. Depending on the customer, missing such functionality might be a nonissue, and both of these software packages are aimed at small restuarants and startups. The bigger issue to VARs might be the lack of (significant) revenue stream that each offers. More on reseller margins later.
General POS Features We’ve Come To Expect
In addition to must-have restaurant features, we also asked about a host of general features such as:
- the ability to print graphical logos on receipts
- audit controls
- integrated time clock
- interface to third-party payroll
- the ability to track cashier shifts with drawer counts
- Interface to Quickbooks
- Ability to split tender
- Support for more than one tax rate
- Support for flat taxes
Just as with the restaurant-specific features, the majority of software options could meet our requirements. Hummingbird POS requires a closer inspection since many of its responses were “can be integrated.” Benseron does not support printing graphic logos on the top of receipts, lacks a third-party payroll interface, and does not support flat taxes.
Whereas both Square’s and Silver’s bare bones nature was evident when it came to restaurant-specific features, only Square came equally as feature-lacking among these general features. Apart from logos on receipts, audit controls, Quickbooks integration, and support for more than one tax rate, Square Register was missing the other features we were looking for.
Pricing & Margin: Let’s Talk Money!
Here’s how each company responded to the costs of its software, and how much, if any, money dealers can make as a reseller.
2TouchPOS — Undisclosed.
Benseron Evolution and Bevo POS — Support is included in the purchase price of $899. Dealer margin: “The dealer puts its own margin and charges its own customer."
Digital Dining — Pricing varies. No support costs to authorized dealers during normal hours. Dealer margin is 40 percent.
Dinerware POS — Free support for authorized dealers. Perpetual and monthly pricing is available. Dealer margin is 35 to 40%.
E la Carte Presto — Pricing not disclosed. “E la Carte does not work with resellers at this time; however, this may be something we consider in the future.”
Entrepreneur by Bepoz — Entrepreneur version is $69/month for first station/back office, $20/month for inventory, $49 for each additional station. Corporate version is $119/month for the first station/back office which includes inventory. $49/month for each additional station. Multi-venue Corporate version has same pricing for HQ location as Corporate. $59/month for first station at remote site. $49/month for each additional station. Discount schedule for high volume subscriptions. Bepoz has two reseller programs: authorized reseller (Bepoz Supports the end user) and Certified Partner (Partner Supports the end user). Authorized Resellers get 25% of gross revenue and Certified Partners make 37% to 45% depending on who does the billing to the end user.
Hummingbird Point-Of-Sale — Support is $50/month unlimited per site. Customer pricing is $300/year per site license. VARs can earn $50/setup and $10/month recurring.
Maitre’D POS — “We offer two models: Software license purchase and POS-as-a-Service.” Pricing and margins undisclosed.
MICROS Simphony — Customer pricing is $750. Dealer margin is undisclosed.
MICROS Systems Restaurant Enterprise Series (RES) — Customer pricing is available upon request and dealer margin is undisclosed.
NCR Aloha Mobile — Variable pricing and margin. Undisclosed.
NCR Silver — $79/month for first device, max $29/month for additional devices. Additional cost for merchant processing. Dealer margin is undisclosed.
pcAmerica Restaurant Pro Express — Support option one is sold annually inclusive of technical support and software upgrades ($250/terminal/year MSRP). Option two is to purchase software and support, or just support, monthly in a SaaS model. Customer pricing depends on version: $649 - $849/terminal MSRP. Dealer margin is approximately 50%.
POS Lavu — Single-terminal pricing starts at $39/month and an $895 license. There are three levels of commission available to Lavu Resellers: Certified - 20%, Preferred - 35%, Premier - 50%.
POSitouch — Varies. Undisclosed.
Revel Systems iPad Point of Sale — Undisclosed.
Square Register — Customer pricing is 2.75% per swipe. No dealer margin.
Despite the respectable “must-have” feature sets of all the products in the list and the financial costs associated with each, there are a ton of small differences between each product. It’s these differences that might matter more than anything we’ve covered here.
For example, a common concern from resellers and end users is how a tablet solution will respond when the Internet cuts out or the wireless LAN disappears. You can see how each company responded in their individual write-ups.
We also asked about existing payment processing integrations, PCI compliance, mobile wallet support, PIN/debit support, and support for customer loyalty programs.
In addition, We took a look at peripheral support, which includes receipt printers, pole displays, surveillance systems, cash drawers, barcode scanners, and integrated scales. In short, there's tons of information to be discovered in each product's individual write-up.
Finally, if you’re considering a tablet POS solution for restaurants and it’s not included in our list, make sure the software at least meets the minimum list of “must-have” features we used to compare the products seen here.
Want your software included in our roundup? Contact me at email@example.com.