There has been a lot of talk about Mobile POS systems (mPOS) in the past year or two.
In fact, 72 percent of the single-location restaurant owners who contact Software Advice each day request mPOS software.
But many restaurant owners still ask: What is mPOS?
To answer this question, we created the following article to explain what mPOS software is, what it can do and why it is a must-have tool for restaurants.
What Is mPOS Software?
mPOS, or mobile POS, systems are a new and disruptive player in the restaurant point-of-sale game. They are quite literally what they’re described to be: POS systems with the ability to be used anywhere.
Servers can carry them around and use them anywhere in the restaurant. Food trucks can use them regardless of where they’re at. And vendors can use them at farmers markets and other off-site events.
Aside from their innate mobility, these systems offer many advantages over traditional POS solutions. For example, the high cost of implementation and cumbersome nature of legacy systems can be intimidating to restaurants looking to adopt a new POS.
This may explain why 63 percent of the restaurant owners we speak with still don’t have a POS system in place.
These may very well be the same restauranteurs asking what is mPOS. Hopefully, they’ll realize mPOS software is a sleek, practical alternative to bulky, traditional systems.
We spoke with restaurant owners who use mPOS software to learn more about its advantages. Based on insights from these conversations, here are three reasons you need a mobile POS system for your restaurant:
What Restaurant Owners Say About mPOS
The user-friendly nature and affordability of tablet systems make them perfect platforms for mobile POS software. And the mobility enabled by using mPOS for restaurants streamlines guest interactions, improves the overall customer experience and can contribute to an increase in revenue.
Here’s what one restaurant owner who uses mPOS has to say about the technology:
“First, you make the restaurant look a little trendier. And then second, you actually speed up the service time.”
Anthony Tse, owner of Jack’s Sliders and Sushi in
New York City
Tse isn’t alone. Many other owners believe mPOS software is helping to modernize the entire restaurant experience:
“This is, as cliché as it is, the future.”
Fredrick Lee, owner of Michi Ramen in Austin, Texas
“It’s considerably cheaper than these traditional, big players,” says Lee. “Those traditional systems are, at times, in the six digits for hardware, training, setup etc. That’s really the first reason we decided to look at iPad systems.”
Besides the mobility offered by tablet-based POS software, the affordable price of these systems was reason enough for Lee to choose one over a traditional, legacy system.
“I think the bottom line is the bottom line,” Lee says. “Just for that mere fact alone, there’s no question that this is a more advantageous system.”
The affordability of mPOS systems is a product of a few things. The first is that the actual hardware (i.e., tablets) is much cheaper than more traditional countertop setups.
Another reason mPOS software is more affordable is that most systems are cloud-based, sold under a subscription pricing structure. This offers users a low entry cost and very manageable recurring monthly or annual fees.
But the price of mPOS systems isn’t the only way they can positively impact your restaurant’s bottom line.
The mobility enabled by mPOS systems is rewriting the typical restaurant experience: It keeps servers more engaged with, and available to, their tables. Restaurants can turn tables faster, because servers aren’t spending time running back and forth to a POS terminal.
“[With mPOS,] the servers are spending half the amount of time taking the order and half the amount of time taking the payment,” says Tse. “If you are turning the tables faster, you don’t need that many servers,”
Echoing Tse’s experiences with mPOS, Lee says these new mPOS systems are perfect for the way his restaurant operates.
“We’re based on volume,” Lee says. “We try to do high turnover, so speed is the name of the game. For us, having that wireless system and having the ability for our servers to take an order and check out a customer in real-time, in that moment upon request, saves a lot of physical back and forth. It totally adds up.”
Tse says restaurants can even reconfigure their labor costs when implementing mPOS: They can have fewer servers on the floor, and bolster their back-of-house with more kitchen staff and food runners.
“A [restaurant owner] friend of mine I referred [to mPOS] started out with 10 servers,” Tse says. “Now, he’s cut down to seven servers, and he’s seen a 15 percent increase in business.”
Labor costs are one of the greatest burdens on a restaurant’s bottom line—so adjusting those in your favor is great for your business. However, you have to ensure your remaining servers can easily master the new mPOS system.
Ease of Use
As Lee says, the beauty of these systems is that they’re built on platforms ubiquitous to most consumers’ daily lives.
“The iPad is ingrained not only in American lifestyles, but also in global lifestyles. There’s not really a learning curve involved for employees or customers,” Lee says.
“This day and age, everyone knows what an iPad is. By design, it’s very user-friendly. You know, touchscreen, swipe—those technologies are commonplace, even beyond iPads.”
Similar to Lee’s experience, Tse says it was an easy transition from his restaurant’s old, traditional POS system to the new mPOS software.
Though most vendors offer numerous support options for less tech-savvy employees, the system was easy enough to set up that Tse did it himself in one afternoon.
But getting familiar with the capabilities of an mPOS system is only half the learning experience. Mobile POS systems typically offer customer-facing functionality, as well. Servers need to be taught how to properly engage customers with the tablet, and how best to use mobility to enhance the experience.
Common things customers can do with these systems include viewing pictures of menu items, reviewing their order before it’s sent and completing their payment (i.e., entering a tip, signing and choosing their method of receipt).
“We had to develop techniques to make the interaction smooth and not awkward,” Lee says. “The only real awkwardness is tipping. … It requires a certain level of privacy. However, when you’re handing someone an iPad, you’re handing them a $600 iPad plus a $300 to $400 swiper.
Not to say we can’t trust the customer, but there’s accidental damage that can be done. So you don’t really want to leave it there. At the same time, you don’t want to hover over them while they’re signing the iPad.”
To address this problem, Lee has his servers drop the iPad at the table, then step aside to give the customers some privacy while they complete the transaction and add their desired tip.
Tse, on the other hand, has his servers drop the iPad off, then return to pick it up once the customer is done. Either way, Lee and Tse stress that establishing your own protocols and best practices are important to get the most out of your mPOS system.
And doing this effectively can come with added benefits to your restaurant and staff: In a past report, Software Advice found that using mPOS software can lead to an increase in tips.
For example, 41 percent of consumers said a close proximity to the server or cashier while entering a tip amount would “probably” or “definitely” increase their likelihood to tip.
Whether you’re among the 63-percent majority of restaurants that don’t have a POS system in place or you’re just looking for a better system, mPOS is likely a great fit for you. It’s easy to use and affordable. What’s more, the mobility of these systems offers an improved customer experience that can help increase revenue.
For help choosing the best mPOS system for your business, simply click the “Get Pricing” button to your right to get a free consultation with one of our advisors.