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Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: +1 888 918 2748

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Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 15, 2017

In this fast-paced industry, intuitive and easy-to-navigate point-of-sale (POS) user interfaces—along with robust inventory management features—are essential. Price scheduling is a must for bar owners, as hourly, daily and seasonal menus regularly 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 (POS) software to manage ticket orders, food preparation and section seating more efficiently than before.

Screenshot of Shopkeep POS dashboard

Screenshot of Shopkeep POS dashboard

General ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable are often the 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 reach out patrons with SMS marketing, social media and email.

Expected Benefits of Bar Point of Sale Systems

The ideal bar POS system helps keep a check on the food inventory, finances and sales. The system also simplifies their bookkeeping requirements.

Quick and easy sales tracking: As bars and restaurants handle a large volume of credit cards and cash every day, the ideal system should help them track all sales up to the very last penny. The solution also tracks menu items that are selling the most along with the unpopular ones. Therefore, it allows owners to modify their menus based on the demand.

Smooth processing of credit card transactions: Almost all bar POS systems offer easy handling of credit and debit card processing. It enables the management to get rid of peripherals and additional systems. Therefore, it results in customers and bar owners accepting credit and debit card transactions as a secure and easy proposition.

Fast and easy preparation of financial statements: The solution offers all the required financial figures, such as profit and loss statements, at the required time, thus, saving a significant amount of manual effort.

Improved security: The solution offers increased security to bar owners because servers are fully accountable for all sales and they cannot change customer checks without entering the correct password. This step also eliminates the chances of employee theft as well as inappropriate discounts for family and friends.

Check on employees: The bar POS software also keeps an eye on the employees by acting as a time tracker and preparing the establishment’s payroll. The solution maintains a record of the sign-in and sign-out times of employees, which facilitates the creation of accurate payroll.

Enhanced inventory tracking: The software also allows bar and restaurant owners to keep an eye on the usage of food and the complete stock. It enables users to identify different usage patterns so that they can eliminate instances of food shortage and over-ordering, and thus, allow better planning of food purchasing.

Offsite control: An advanced bar POS software also enables managers and owners to log in the system through a web connection. It allows users to remotely monitor sales and employee patterns to identify any problems and anticipate future issues.

Efficient utilization of human resources: Setting up a bar POS software also relieves the staff from tedious and time-consuming tasks such as double-checking discrepancies in sales figures and manually reconciling the cash register.

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).

Key Considerations for Bar POS Systems

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when you evaluate a bar POS system:

Flexibility options: As technology changes very fast, you need to select a POS system that provides regular upgrades and has an open API. This will enable it to be integrated with various new technologies and third-party apps in the future.

Employee and sales tracking: The bar POS system should allow the tracking of working hours, salaries and other employee metrics. It must also enable setting work schedules and forecasting sales to predict staffing needs better.

Effective inventory tools: The software should also provide inventory management tools for accurate inventory calculation and reduction of storage costs.

Reporting and analytics: The solution should be able to provide customer and sales insights using accurate charts and numbers.

Reliable support: The solution should also provide complementary expert training and round-the-clock support. It should also have a track record of proven customer satisfaction.

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