EPOS for Quick Service Restaurants
Do you run a quick service restaurant (QSR)? Whether you sell late-night fast food, a coffee shop, or you serve breakfast – where an EPOS system is concerned, we’re going to define QSR in two principal ways.
The first: people approach a counter to buy and pay for the food. That means we don’t have to worry about feature sets like table service; and that many front-of-house features designed to mould to complex customer interactions are redundant. The second: speed at the checkout is vital, and a key way in which an EPOS could add value to your store.
QSR EPOS features
If your biggest requirement is that you can take orders quickly; speed and simplicity is the order of the day, here. We’d recommend you find an EPOS system which can do the basics well. Here’s a list of some of the features we’d recommend that you go for when you choose software.
What else can EPOS do for my Front of House?
Ensure that your EPOS is easy to use, efficient and lets you process sales speedily. This is a value judgement! All software brands will claim they have this; but look specifically at the number of buttons between you choosing an item and the customer pressing pay.
Automatic discounts which apply when you ring through certain items on the till might well be vital to your business in QSR – such as “meal deals”. Also watch out for reporting functions that enable you to analyse this, on things like attachment rates.
Lots of QSR are open from breakfast through lunch to dinner, with different pricing and different products on offer throughout the day. This can result in very large menus on your POS which can be confusing for staff. Look for systems that allow you to manage which products appear on the screen by time of day. You should also look for systems that allow you to manage pricing by time of day. Systems that have these features should also allow you to report by day part.
Different EPOS systems will have different ways of contributing tax, and varies internationally. Whilst UK-based EPOS software already factor in VAT to the ticket price, American systems add this in at the point of sale. If you’re an international business, you’ll need to think about how you can get your EPOS to apply sales taxes based on the geographic region you do business in.
VAT calculations can be fiddly but are very important to get right. If you’re a hospitality business with an eat-in and takeaway option, make sure your tax reports are accurate and up to speed. The best EPOS systems will let you modify products with multiple prices and tax rates – in other words, the customer will pay a custom amount across all your products, with any dine-in tax added as necessary. This avoids you having to assign some products as “takeaway” and some as “eat-in”.
Traditional systems operate a very rigid flowchart in how they invite the cashier to take orders. An employee must select an item category and/or item before they can select modifiers. For example, a customer may walk into a coffee shop and ask for a “large decaf Americano”. On the other hand, the barista may have to input “beverage => Americano => large => Decaffeinated” into the EPOS system.
Check out our coffee shop EPOS guide for more information.
Conversational ordering is different; it’s an EPOS application that allows an employee to enter the customer’s order in the exact order sequence that the customer communicates it. This is particularly useful in coffee shops because there are so many different ways a customer makes the same order. Perhaps one day in the future, voice recognition technology will take this off our hands!
Kitchens and Printer Routing
If you serve food, you may want to have sophisticated printer routing options; so that you can send products to printers in your kitchen (or even specific areas in your kitchen). Make sure that your receipts display any relevant modifiers and customer information like allergies. Alternatively, you may find KDS (Kitchen Display Screens) helpful – instead of printing tickets, you send drink/food orders to a variety of prep areas. In addition to facilitating order production, a KDS often enables you to track prep times for products & helps highlight inefficiencies in production.
For this, you’ll need specialist kit – a set of scales that will let you weigh the product and key the weight into your EPOS system. Create items with weight-based units (i.e. white chocolate fudge is £4.75 per 100g). iZettle Go and Square let you set up product price per unit, kg, hour or any other custom unit. When you sell an item by weight, you simply select the item from your library and then you can enter the weight manually or connect your EPOS to a bluetooth weighing scale.
Delivery and Online Ordering Integrations
A delivery platform would include Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Just Eat. An online ordering system, in contrast, is a bit of software which plugs into your website as a checkout where you fulfil the deliveries yourself. You might have either – or both – of these, in order to run a takeaway business.
Both online ordering systems and delivery platforms can be integrated with an EPOS system. Where possible, we’d generally recommend that you do integrate. That would mean you can keep all your inventory being sold across different platforms pulling from the same figures, so you don’t accidentally sell the last potatoes twice. It will also mean that you can aggregate your reporting into one view to understand both parts of your business.
In lieu of an integration, some companies we’ve met hire a staff member to re-enter Uber Eats orders into their EPOS system – which is a full time role!
There aren’t lots of integrations available between these – but it’s often possible to integrate using something called “middleware” – middleware is software such as Deliverect which sits between an EPOS system and a delivery platform. Deliverect is an example of one reputable middleware software which you could use.
Generic EPOS features for QSR
Depending on your EPOS, you can track your sales in simple pre-set reports up to really complex interfaces which can be tailored to see your data in very specific lenses. For example, you may want to see whether your combo sales are working effectively, or see which of your sandwiches is the least popular. External data can pull data in for other sources, such as the weather. It’s common for stores to experience a drop in sales during poor weather; and it may be appropriate to hire fewer staff on rainy days.
Read about reporting in EPOS systems.
The principal thing here is the ability to track how much and which parts of your inventory you’ve sold. Your EPOS needs to log a clear translation between how products come into your store and how they leave. If you work with food or complex drinks, that will mean “building recipes” in which you’re able to enter the approximate volumes of different raw materials which go into each unit, in order to deduct those raw materials from your stock automatically as each meal or cocktail is sold. Check out EPOS for pubs and bars for further information on this process. Set up your system to send you notifications when you’re running low on critical ingredients like milk. Complex systems will automatically reorder stock back to a par stock level when a lower warning threshold is hit.
Read about inventory management in EPOS systems.
Staff Management & Multisite
If you’re a chain with multiple sites or you’re looking to expand soon, make sure your EPOS is equipped with: the ability to add staff permissions and log-ins. It’s a good idea to keep your employees accountable – especially when it comes to tracking abnormally high stock shrinkage.
With an EPOS system that has a centralised dashboard, the general manager (you) should be able to make changes for multiple stores at once. For example, if you have a breakfast, lunch, and evening menu across four locations – suddenly you have twelve menus that require editing, a lengthy process!
Products, prices, and menus, should be changeable from a central location and possible to apply with the touch of a button. Your business reports will be centralised, too, letting you compare store-by-store, so you can see which of your locations is doing best. You’re likely to want aggregated reporting in which you can access all the information on your company in one place. As you’re keeping track of more data, it’s more important that everything synchronises at once.
Read about permissions and multisite.
Payment Processing in QSR
To recap, the way in which you should buy EPOS systems is to choose your software first, then choose your payment processor, and finally, choose your hardware last of all.
We think about payment processing having two decision points.
The first is whether you want integrated payments or not. For QSR, it’s strongly recommended you get integrated payments – that should put the “quick” in quick service. Integrated payments just means you tap a button on your EPOS software and the correct price cues on the card reader; then, when somebody pays, the software updates automatically. The alternatively would be typing out prices in your card terminal again, like you get in some sit-down restaurants.
Secondly, you’ll need to decide whether to opt for a pay-as-you-go processor or contract processor. Pay-as-you-go processors are much more convenient than traditional contract processors. The card readers work out of the box; there’s no paperwork involved; and they offer a flat rate which is easy to understand – whereas traditional processing quotes look like spreadsheets.
In terms of which is cheaper, it depends on a few factors. The most important is your average transaction size. If you have a lower average transaction size than around £7, you’re likely to be better off with a pay-as-you-go system. But it also depends on factors like your total volume of card turnover and your foreign or business card intake – give us a call if you’re not sure. (Understand which is cheaper).
For QSR, without knowing your financial specifics, our recommendation would be likely to go with a pay-as-you-go provider like iZettle, SumUp, Square, or PayPal Here for your payment processing. (These also offer free EPOS software which you can choose to use or not). Choose your software first and come back to this.
The card reader on the left is the kind you’d get with a traditional processor like worldpay, AIB, or paymentsense. The card reader on the right is the kind you’d get with a pay-as-you-go processor like (pictured) Square, Sum Up, or iZettle
Examples of QSR EPOS Systems
A Small Merchant / Delivery Component Required
Free EPOS will cover the basic needs of a small merchant, without the complex features such as table service, split bills and advanced accounting which will all cost you a bit extra. Your Free POS options include iZettle Go, Square, SumUp, and PayPal Here.
If you offer delivery to your customers, you’ll likely need to integrate with Deliverect, which currently only works with Square, out of the software listed above.
The medium-sized merchant
If you’re a medium sized QSR, you’ll need more than the simple QSR EPOS features that smaller merchants can settle with. One example of the kind of software which works for this kind of merchant is the Good Till. Configure your EPOS to work with the accounting software Xero.
The merchant in this example doesn’t sell online, so we’ve forgone the delivery platform integration – the Good Till is among the EPOS softwares which can integrate with Deliveroo and Uber Eats (not with Just Eat, unfortunately).
Whereas Square charges payment processing fees only, Good Till chooses an extra £20 per month. Where is the extra going? Well, the Good Till starts you off with inventory management and ingredient tracking in a way Square can’t.
Want to understand the difference? Find Out What’s Recommended for Me
If you have multiple sites, your inventory and reporting needs will be substantial!
Complex Restaurant EPOS systems will enable you to keep track of individual ingredients, order stock automatically, send receipts to specific areas of the kitchen, as well as report with much more specific data frames, such as average spend per head, time of day, throughput times.
It’s also more important than ever to ensure you can integrate with takeaway platforms or online ordering systems. You may also begin to think about discrete inventory software which can deal with complex levels of ingredients across multiple sites.
Inventory EPOS Combo? Find Out What’s Recommended for Me
Our Top 5 QSR EPOS Software Picks
You’ll find that there are plenty of QSR EPOS options to choose from; there’s a huge market and lots of software providers are creating features to suit QSR.
1. iZettle is a great failsafe option if you want something quick and hassle free. It’s great at the checkout – and best of all, if you grow, you can always upgrade to iZettle Pro, their premium offering. An iZettle card reader works right out the box – and with some of the other systems, you’d have to buy an iZettle reader anyway!
2. One of our reviewers of The Goodtill noted its “brilliant back end system for sales analysis”. In our experience, The Goodtill isn’t quite as large or complex as some of the really big systems light Lightspeed – but it can do all the analysis you need. That simplicity means it’s fast on the checkout.
3. Nobly is another cheap and fast option in the same price range as The Goodtill. Nobly has notable multisite functionality. Some of our reviewers have liked Nobly – others have expressed frustration with its back end tools.
4. Talech is a basic to mid-range hospitality EPOS. It’s an unusual choice here in the UK because they mainly cater to the US – so watch out for VAT in or out, which American systems typically add at the point of sale.
That said, Talech is popular in the US and seems to be doing very well among QSR shops of all shapes and sizes. Something to consider if you want the next level of software up from Goodtill and Nobly.
5. Touchbistro has an offline mode, which is really useful if you’re worried about a dodgy internet connection! That does mean that you normally have to buy a server with Touchbistro, so the hardware is a little pricier to set up.
But, Touchbistro does integrate with a range of payments and delivery options and we’ve heard great things from its reviewers. A stellar choice!
As a quick service restaurant, two of your main priorities are efficiency and speed. With today’s EPOS systems, your ordering processes can be cut down and optimised for accuracy. When you come to deciding on a system, think about not only what it will do for your front-of-house operations, but also its back office management tools and reporting. We’re here to help – book a 5-minute call with StoreKit today by tapping the button below.