A restaurant POS system refers to the “point-of-sale” equipment, most often used to accept payments, record transactions and print receipts. Mobile POS technology helps remove the need for wired point-of-sale equipment, offering lower-cost devices and versatile applications to improve the way restaurants do business.
What is a Mobile POS?
Mobile POS systems take many forms. Usually, mobility involves a handheld device, such as a tablet or a smart phone. Traditional POS systems are generally immobile; even wireless consoles are traditionally anchored to a checkout counter or wait station.
Restaurants may choose to go mobile for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s the type of operation that necessitates mobility, such as a food truck or a farm stand. Many mobile systems also offer greater expediency, improving customer service or transaction speed. Furthermore, mobile POS technology ensures secure credit card transactions without the hefty fees often incurred with traditional systems.
The Benefits of Mobility
With mobile POS technology, servers can carry mobile devices to the table. This allows for instant communication from table to kitchen, and can even allow tableside payment acceptance, as the credit card remains in view of the customer at all times.
Mobile restaurant operations particularly benefit from mobile POS technology. Food trucks, pop-ups and other non-traditional eateries require a form of transaction system and card-reader that can move with them. Since these types of restaurants often operate in tight spaces and on limited budgets, implementing a full-fledged POS system can be expensive and cumbersome. For many establishments, the biggest benefits are improved customer service, increased sales and overall cost reduction.
Improved Customer Service
Mobile devices allow servers to go to the customer. Servers can take orders right at the table, which improves efficiency and accuracy when entering orders.
- Reduce the wait time. Mobile order acceptance can reduce the time it takes to transmit an order to the kitchen staff, meaning customers can receive food from the kitchen more quickly. Plus, these devices often interface with mobile card-readers, allowing servers to run a credit card without leaving the table.
- Let customers handle it. Some restaurateurs implement mobile devices for customers to use at the table. The devices become digital menus, which customers can use to search, order drinks, and even pay the final bill. This is especially beneficial for restaurants with frequently changing menus. Learn more about digital menus in the restaurant.
- Send receipts digitally. A benefit of using certain mobile devices and apps, like the Square, is the ability for customers to get their receipt texted or emailed to them. This is convenient and also cost-effective for the restaurant, reducing the cost of reordering thermal receipt paper and printers.
Many smaller, independent restaurants or mobile operations have limited space as well as limited capital for traditional POS systems, which can cost $2,000 or more with all the components required. [Source] Many mobile apps are free, and devices like the Square and the Amazon Kindle can replace traditional POS devices at a fraction of the cost.
Square. Square is a mobile POS solution that interfaces with smartphones or tablets. Using Square, one can accept and process payments with downloadable technology and a plug-in card-reader. The big perk? Lower credit card fees. [Source]
Amazon Kindle Fire. A lesser known tablet option (compatible with Square) is the Amazon Kindle Fire, the newest in a long line of Kindle products. The Kindle Fire has point-of-sale app capabilities, and at only $200 a pop, it’s even more affordable than some other tablet options. [Source]
Mobile doesn’t always mean that the actual device needs to move. The Revel Systems iPad system—which was awarded the “innovative solution award” by RetailNOW 2012–offers a flexible set-up designed to work well as a stationary unit. Based around the iPad, this system includes an app, an adjustable stand, multiple printer options and cloud-based data collection for convenience, flexibility, and performance without the need for bulky equipment, wires and an expensive, back-of-the-house server. [Source]
Taking an order tableside helps improve accuracy and reduces the time from when the order is taken to when the food is delivered. Customers receive their food faster and with fewer problems, improving the overall experience. The following offer more sales-related perks regarding mobile POS devices:
- Maximize floor space. Without the need for a dedicated POS station, the restaurant can effectively make use of more dining space, potentially adding more seating or merchandising opportunities. With efficient organization comes the potential for increased sales.
- Accept credit cards. A potential stigma of neighborhood restaurants and food trucks is the inability to accept credit card payments. Keep all your customers happy with secure, convenient card-readers no matter where you are.
- Offer easy ways to tip. When customers are involved in paying on a digital device, they may be more apt to provide a tip if a screen pops up with calculated tip amounts at the tap of a finger.
Mobile technology can be a real benefit to the restaurateur in terms of money savings, revenue increases and overall customer satisfaction. To learn more, check out these mobile marketing techniques that will take your restaurant to the next level.