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by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: November 23, 2015

In this fast-paced industry, intuitive and easy-to-navigate point-of-sale (POS) user interfaces—along with strong inventory management features—are essential. Price scheduling is a must for bar owners, as hourly, daily and seasonal menus constantly affect drink prices and availability. To reduce the POS hardware footprint and improve accessibility and order speeds, many solutions are deployed on touchscreen systems. Some bars that offer food and seating options will often use restaurant point-of-sale (POS) software to better manage order tickets, food preparation and section seating.

General ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable are often central features in these applications. In addition, time and tip tracking are also often included to expedite end of day (EOD) pay-outs. Customer relationship management (CRM) features are becoming increasingly more popular as more bar owners are reaching out to patrons with SMS marketing, social media and email.

Common Features of Bar Point of Sale Software

These are the features that bar owners should look for when evaluating point of sale systems that meet their specific needs:

Recipe definition and customization These systems should allow users to customize drink orders, as well as look up drink components from definitions. Users can access a “hotlist” of popular drinks and then modify them on a per-item basis.
Order entry The important order entry aspects of these systems include tab transfers, repeat orders and check consolidation. Most features are commonly accessible from the main order-entry dashboard.
Price scheduling Multiple menus, specials, happy hours and other promotions need to be easily managed and customized within the system. Rotating prices should automatically change with the system’s internal clock.
Multi-user compatibility Since a single terminal is often shared by multiple bartenders, these systems should include integrated login features for users. Card readers, fingerprint scanners or just numerical keypads are some of the popular integrations.
Tip tracking and payroll Tips should be linked to user accounts to assist with both end-of-shift payouts and IRS recording purposes. These systems often integrate tip tracking with a time clock module to assist with payroll management.
Video and security system integration These solutions often integrate with video surveillance systems to reduce shrink (beverage “sweethearting”) and loss. In addition, it’s becoming increasingly common for systems to integrate directly with bars’ security systems.
Customer relationship management (CRM) While not a traditional module within these systems, vendors are now providing CRM functionality as many bars are using social media to promote events and specials, as well as connect with local patrons. Email marketing is one of the more common features.
Inventory management, ordering and receiving Bar POS systems will need reporting and management features to manage inventory that moves quickly and fluctuates regularly. Bars will often establish regular shipping schedules with suppliers, so these systems will need to be able to accept automatic shipment notices (ASNs).

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