The list, drafted by Arlington, Texas-based consulting service POSUSA, provides detailed reviews of 25 systems on an annual basis. The overall ratings are based on what the company says is a proprietary algorithm.
The roster for 2019 includes such familiar names as NCR, POSitouch, Aloha and Micros, but is studded with relative newcomers such as Harbortouch, Square, Revel and Toast.
Here are the top 10, along with a summary of POSUSA’s take on each.
POSUSA hails its highest-rated entrant as not only one of the most advanced options on the roster, but also one of the most accessible, because the hardware is provided without an upfront cost. The review highlights such bells and whistles as a module that feeds sales tips from bar expert Jon Taffer, along with tools for managing social media and loyalty programs. “If you need a quality solution without breaking the bank, Harbortouch is one of our top picks,” the reviewers write.
Among the lesser-known systems on the list is this newcomer, which landed in the No. 2 spot largely on the strength of the ongoing support that’s provided along with the system. “That’s a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by the bottom line,” reads the review. POSUSA notes that a number of functions are packed into the system, including modules that handle online ordering and inventory management. It also lauds the price: $99, plus $49 per additional terminal.
One of the earliest tablet-based systems, TouchBistro remains one of the simplest to use, according to its review. “In a nutshell, TouchBistro makes running a restaurant easier by streamlining and simplifying all aspects of restaurant management,” POSUSA concludes.
Intended for small and medium-sized operations, cloud-based Lightspeed is praised for being user friendly and easy to learn. Extras include the ability to insert pictures and descriptions that educate the staff on what they’re serving. Plus, says POSUSA, the “pricing is straightforward and affordable.”
Operations on the scale of a deli or small cafe will also find plenty to like in this tablet-based system, according to its review. The inventory management capability and moderate processing fees were mentioned as being particularly well-matched to small operations.
Square for Restaurants
Recognizing Square as one of the best-known and popular systems on the list, POSUSA argues that the notoriety is well-deserved, a reflection of its simplicity and low cost ($60 a month, plus processing fees, according to the ranking). The review notes that Square is adding more advanced features, such as the ability to split checks, but adds that the basics are where it really shines, even though that translates into a no-frills interface.
At the other end of the spectrum is Future, one of the more advanced systems on the roster, according to POSUSA. The review lauds the customization afforded by the software, which can be used on handheld and tabletop devices as well as via conventional terminals. The description notes that the ability to load data into the cloud and retrieve it quickly makes this a standout choice for multiunit operations.
The ranking notes that Clover is actually a collection of hardware and software modules that restaurants can cherry-pick to update their current POS systems. The core options provide “pretty basic functionality,” but more advanced functions are available as add-ons. The rundown calls Clover “an option for a small to a medium-sized restaurant if you’re looking for a complete and straightforward all-in-one solution at an affordable price.”
The system earned a place in the top 10 in part because it simplifies oversight of multiple locations, according to its review. Data is uploaded instantly from iPads used in a variety of locations, providing real-time tracking of sales, POSUSA notes. It also describes the software’s monthly subscription fee as one of the more affordable options offered by tablet-based systems.
A key advantage of the Android-based system is its ability to process orders without a large supporting computer or central processing hub, enabling its use in remote locations such as tableside, according to the review. The evaluation also describes the interface as “intuitive and user-friendly,” and lauds the provided support service as “extraordinary.”