This is a tough category, as there are several worthy contenders. Toast, however, which was purpose-built for the restaurant industry, wins with a slightly better reputation for customer service and support. And because payment processing is included in the package, it makes our top choice as the best bet for your money.

With Toast, basic packages start at $79 per terminal, with some discounts added for volume users. Toast's hard-wired terminals mean you won't worry about Wi-Fi, and they're guaranteed to work even if there's a connectivity issue.

The proprietary hardware is Android-based and includes both a standing terminal and hand-held Toast Go POS terminals (for an additional fee), which allow servers to input orders directly from the table. That feature is a key for busy restaurants, allowing servers to directly input orders as they take them down instead of jotting down the order at the table then inputting it into a shared terminal near the kitchen.

Toast Go devices also can notify a server when an order's in the window ready to be delivered -- so servers don't have to pace the kitchen area waiting for "order up" calls from the cooks. Split checks? No problem. Splitting the actual cost of an appetizer three ways? Still no problem for Toast's system, which allows servers to create separate payment tracks and intuitively drag and drop menu items into each customer's bill. Toast Go also eliminates time spent taking credit cards to registers; customers can pay at the table and have the receipt emailed to them.

Want online ordering for your customers? Toast's package lets your customers place orders directly with your restaurant instead of funneling them through an external vendor. Toast even allows you to "throttle" online orders during peak hours, meaning you can slow down delivery and/or pickup times when your kitchen is at its busiest.

And if you want to collect data at a macro level, such as which menu items are flying out of the saucepans, and which items are still sitting in the walk-in, Toast can help you do that as well. On a micro level, restaurateurs can track customers' individual orders over time and direct-market sales and specials to them. Finally, there's tracking software to show exceptions -- discounts, refunds, and voids by each employee.

The downside is that the company wants you to buy all the software and hardware from them, so you'll likely have to ditch any legacy systems if you go with Toast, rather than being able to incorporate it slowly to see if it's the right fit for you.

See our complete Best POS System article


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