Last Updated On March 24, 2021 / Written By Chloe Henderson

Top 5 Restaurant POS Software and Hardware For 2021

Restaurant POS software should streamline both front and back of house operations, such as payment and order processing, to increase productivity and decrease guest wait time.

Introduction to Restaurant POS Software

Restaurants have unique needs when it comes to point-of-sale (POS) software, as they handle time-sensitive inventory that significantly impacts their profitability. They must also be able to process various payment forms and generate sales reports to improve their performance. By choosing the appropriate restaurant POS software, establishments can leverage technology to optimize their control.

What to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant POS System

There are several restaurant POS systems available on the market, each offering a different set of features for specific models. Owners must carefully assess their customer payment preferences and processing capabilities to ensure they choose the correct solution.

Contactless Payments

Mobile, or contactless, payments began gaining traction years ago as companies, including Apple, offered a new way to make purchases. This technology allows customers to leave their credit cards at home and complete transactions with their smartphones. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more consumers prefer mobile payments as they limit contact.

Modern POS systems accept contactless payments, allowing restaurants to implement portable tablets so customers can perform their own transactions. This functionality reduces server travel time and human error during the ordering process. Now guests don't have to wait for their server to check out.

Inventory Management

Restaurants also require extensive inventory control to prevent food spoilage and limit waste. Advanced POS software tracks stock levels with every customer purchase so establishments can accurately gauge reorder points. This functionality enables restaurants to avoid under and overordering ingredients to minimize food costs.

Report Generation

Cost reduction takes detailed analysis to pinpoint exactly where the restaurant is losing money and the most lucrative revenue streams. Report generation is essential for making data-based decisions and tracking progress. Sophisticated POS solutions offer report generation so management can monitor spending, sales, profit margins, and employee performance.

Top 5 POS Software

An adequate POS solution should provide the above functionalities, as well as meet each restaurant's unique needs. The following POS software solutions are multi-purpose and provide a high level of functionality through various features.

1. Plum POS

Plum POS offers a user-friendly interface that enables restaurants to use their own devices, such as tablets and computers. Starting at just $29 a month, establishments can access Plum POS software and its features.

  • Cloud Storage
With cloud storage, restaurants do not have to store data on each terminal's hard drive, creating data silos. This leaves the opportunity for miscommunications, fragmented information, and more reporting. Instead, cloud storage centralizes data management into a universal interface for easy information sharing.

  • Pre-Built Menus
Pre-programmed menus make it easy to customize menu items and prices, allowing restaurants to introduce seasonal items seamlessly. This eliminates any downtime related to establishing and upgrading menus.

  • Pre-Programmed Table Layouts
Pre-built table layouts allow managers to rearrange their restaurant outline to better manage customers and employee assignments. This way, managers can easily change their digital layout with renovations.

  • Sales Reporting
Plum POS provides in-depth reports on hourly sales, profit margins, menu items, inventory, and labor for improved decision-making.

  • Customizable Dashboard
The Plum POS dashboard is entirely customizable, so restaurants can adjust the color scheme and add their own logo to the software.


Plum POS also offers hardware, such as touch-screen tablets, printers, and kitchen monitors, for businesses that do not have the equipment.

2. Toast POS

Toast POS is another multi-purpose solution that focuses on the primary restaurant tasks.

  • Inventory tracking
  • Employee management
  • Payroll management
  • Kitchen communication
  • Mobile Ordering

Starting at $75 a month per terminal, restaurants can access Toast POS software. However, there are additional fees for hardware, card processing, and implementation. This provider also offers portable devices so servers can send orders to the kitchen from anywhere in the restaurant.

Toast now has a customer interface that enables them to pay from their table using their own portable device. This software sources additional features from third parties at the restaurant's request for add-ons.

3. Lightspeed POS

Lightspeed POS is available to restaurants starting at $69 a month per payment terminal. This version provides essential functions, such as order and payment processing, inventory control, and adjustable floor plans. Lightspeed POS caters to bars, cafes, and other restaurants of varying sizes. As an establishment grows, it can upgrade the plan to access more sophisticated features.

4. ShopKeep

ShopKeep is a mobile-based POS solution that caters to startups and medium-sized restaurants. With mobile tablets, guests can place their orders and complete transactions right from their table. ShopKeep also provides inventory management and sales reporting features for more impactful decision-making.

However, their pricing isn't as straightforward. Restaurants must contact the provider directly to get a price quote for their personalized plan.

5. Square

Square is a multi-purpose POS solution but is most known for its mobile payment processing. Because of their mobile functionality, many food trucks, cafes, and mobile vendors use Square software. This enables restaurants to mobilize their business and complete sales on the road.

Aside from mobility, Square offers other necessary functions, including-

  • Menu management
  • Inventory management
  • Table outline
  • Pricing/discounts
  • Online store synchronization

Square's pricing is in tiers, where restaurants can pay more to access additional features. While there is a free option, they do charge clients a percentage of each credit card transaction. The next option is $60 a month per terminal, which includes all basic functions. Then at $299 a month, owners can access payroll, marketing, and other features.