Restaurant POS Software
BuyerView | 2014
At Software Advice, we speak to prospective buyers from thousands of companies each year who are shopping for new restaurant point-of-sale (POS) software. These conversations give us unrivaled insight into the systems the buyers are currently using, their reasons for seeking new software, what features they require and more.
To learn more, we analyzed a random sample of 385 of these recent interactions. This report outlines our findings.
Fifty-five percent of the buyers we spoke with were not currently using any restaurant management or point-of-sale software. The methods they had in place included hand-written paper tickets and traditional, manual cash registers.
Meanwhile, 45 percent of buyers were unhappy with their existing restaurant software and looking to replace it. The applications being replaced were distributed evenly between most major restaurant software vendors. They included Micros, Aldelo, Digital Dining and others.
The restaurant industry is known for being very fast-paced. It should come as no surprise that management prioritizes organization and efficiency, and that these are the top priorities for restaurant managers seeking restaurant software.
Organization is often mentioned in conjunction with inventory and sales tracking: For example, one buyer sought “better organization with inventory,” and another needed “a system that can help [us] stay more organized with tracking inventory and sales reporting.”
Efficiency is often brought up with restaurant workflow processes in mind. For example, one buyer said they were “mainly looking for a dependable program that can efficiently communicate, from front-of-house orders to back-of-house, [and that includes] sales-tracking capabilities.”
Additionally, buyers’ third most cited reason for needing new software is that they’re either opening an entirely new restaurant, or they’re adding a location to an existing franchise. That this is a frequently cited reason is unsurprising, given the growth of the restaurant industry as a whole:
Restaurant POS software can either focus on a single, very specific task, such as order-taking, or it can cover the whole gamut of restaurant operations: from guest reservations to business accounting. The first type is categorized as “best-of-breed” software, and the second is called “integrated suite” software. Restaurant buyers prefer integrated suites by a 22 percent margin.
The restaurants we spoke with that were seeking best-of-breed products had an average of 10 employees. They generally emphasized simplicity and ease-of-use as high priorities. Specifically, they made requests such as:
The restaurant buyers seeking integrated-suite software had an average of 16 employees. They were looking for software with a broader set of features, usually encompassing accounting and employee management tools. They made specific requests, such as:
After inventory management (48 percent) and sales tracking (34 percent), the third most frequently requested feature—mentioned by 23 percent of restaurant buyers—is employee scheduling and clocking management. This feature is frequently included in integrated-suite software packages.
Tablet compatibility is the fourth most requested feature, with many restaurants singling out iPads as their tablet of choice. However, tablet compatibility was rarely identified as a mandatory requirement. Rather, most said it was something that “would be nice to have” or that they would like to learn more about, but that it wasn’t absolutely necessary.
This curiosity mirrors a trend we see in the restaurant industry at large. Across the nation, restaurants are experimenting with tablets, using them to replace menus and even replace waitstaff in the ordering process. Early reports suggest that tablet use could even lead to more spending per table.
Of the buyers we spoke with, 86 percent plan to use software at only one restaurant location.
Most buyers contact us after having conducted their preliminary research. They’ve already determined that they will be purchasing new software, and usually have a specific time frame in mind.
Sixty-five percent of the buyers we spoke with planned to make their purchase within 90 days, while another 11 percent planned to purchase within a year.
Discounting the two years following the recession, the food-services industry has been growing strongly for well over a decade. As it grows, more new restaurants are opening and existing restaurants are expanding with new locations. Both of these factors are increasing the demand for restaurant software.
This demand is characterized by two size-specific preferences. Smaller establishments are generally seeking best-of-breed solutions to better handle customer-facing business operations, such as reservations and order-taking. With increasingly larger business sizes, the requirements shift more towards integrated suites.
Additionally, changing trends in the industry cause many to inquire about new functionality, such as tablet integration. The restaurant industry’s use of tablets has piqued the interest of many businesses, and many buyers express interest in learning more about it. It is, however, still in the early phase of adoption, and few buyers are describing tablet functionality as a must-have feature.
Software Advice regularly speaks on the phone with organizations seeking new human resources software. To create this report, we randomly selected 385 of our phone interactions to analyze. If you’d like to further discuss this report or obtain access to any of the charts above, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurant Industry Sales chart created by National Restaurant Association, 2014.