Toast, Clover, and Square are popular POS systems. They are all excellent platforms, but choosing the right option for your restaurant will depend on specific factors. Here are some key points to consider:
Your Restaurant Type
The best POS for your restaurant will depend on the nature of your establishment, your payment processing requirements, and the essential features you need to ensure your business runs like a well-oiled machine.
For example, bars and casual restaurants need a POS system that facilitates split checks, employee scheduling, and provides analytics functionality for tracking patrons. The owner of a food truck will be more interested in a provider that offers compact POS systems and quick payment options, which are more important in a queuing system.
Below is an overview of the fit of each of the three POS providers.
The POS system is best for Android users. Toast is built on Android OS, and it’s an excellent option if you want to use Android hardware.
Unlike the other two systems, Toast is designed specifically for restaurants. It works just fine for restaurants of all types and sizes. You can use it to manage food trucks, fine-dining restaurants, bars, bakeries, and pizza joints.
An excellent option for quick-service restaurant owners. The provider offers a dedicated subscription plan for quick-service restaurants and relevant features like color-coded menus, easy ordering, rugged handheld devices, and integrated online ordering.
Its POS system integrates seamlessly with popular delivery and takeout platforms like DoorDash and Grubhub. Integration with both platforms is free on all of the provider’s subscription plans.
This POS system is best for small to medium restaurants looking for a versatile and cost-effective solution. Square POS is free to install, and it comes with a robust package of restaurant management features that doesn’t fall short of what you will find on purpose-built options. There is a paid plan with premium features for when you want to scale up your operations.
Any POS provider worth your time will offer cloud-based solutions, and the software must be installed inside physical devices. Some providers will let you install their software on any compatible hardware, while others will design their system to work exclusively on company hardware.
If you already own restaurant POS hardware and are looking to change your provider, switching to a provider that bundles its POS system with proprietary hardware may not be cost-effective.
Here are the hardware options offered by the three providers.
Subscribers must use the company’s Android-based hardware to access its POS software, and the package of devices you will be getting depends on your subscription plan. For example, the free Starter Kit plan includes 1 POS terminal (countertop or handheld), Toast Tap for contactless payments, and POS software.
Once you sign up for a paid subscription, you can pair the Toast POS software with any hardware setup you choose. Subscribers can choose guest-facing displays, printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners, Toast Go handheld devices, and a kitchen display system.
The recommended Clover Flex all-in-one handheld POS system costs $35/month or $599 if you purchase it outright. It has a built-in printer, barcode scanner, and camera and accepts contactless payments.
You can manage your inventory with it and basically run a small to medium size restaurant from the palm of your hand. Clover offers other cheaper and more expansive hardware options, including:
- Clover Go: a $49 Bluetooth card reader
- Clover Mini: a $499 space-saving countertop POS device
- Clover Station: a $1,699 full-size countertop POS device
Subscribers to the free plan must get their own Apple hardware (iPad or iPhone) to run the free Square POS app. The provider does offer a free magstripe reader for processing debit and credit card transactions.
If you need extra hardware, you can buy the $259 Square Restaurant mobile kit and the $1389 Square Stand Restaurant Station from the Square online shop. Subscribers to the $60/month plan will get one countertop POS system and unlimited Square kitchen display systems.
At the bare minimum, your POS system must be able to manage inventory, process orders from different channels, accept payments and communicate relevant information to the kitchen. It can’t facilitate efficient restaurant operations without those four core functions.
Accurate restaurant data reporting is also crucial. It must have features that let you analyze the mountain of data your establishment is generating. The insights you gain will help you make more informed decisions about your business.
Of course, most quality restaurant POS systems have the essential features and much more, including the three providers we are examining in this article.
- Robust tableside order management
- Payment processing services
- Floor planning
- Order firing
- QR code scanning
- Real-time menu updates
- Support for online ordering and takeouts (Toast Now)
- Flat-rate delivery
- Tip pooling and splitting
- Customer feedback
- Loyalty program with a points system
- Analytics and Reporting
- Table service planning
- Credit card processing
- Online ordering and delivery system (connected to social media and Google My Business page)
- Customer feedback
- Clover customer rewards system
- Payroll management
- Analytics and Reporting
- Remote monitoring
- Extensive support for third-party integrations via the Clover app store
- Free tableside ordering
- Credit card processing
- Free customizable menus
- Free online takeout and delivery site (connected to social media and Google My Business page)
- Free digital card function
- Paid QR code ordering
- Paid advanced employee management
- Paid kitchen display system
POS pricing has two components: hardware costs and software subscription fees. Hardware costs can be paid outright, or the provider may offer an installment payment plan to help mitigate high upfront costs. Subscription fees are ongoing and may be paid monthly or annually.
Pay attention to the provider’s pricing plan’s structure, and ensure you understand how you will be billed overtime. Also, a good provider should offer a free trial to give you time to see if the POS system is the right fit for your needs. You shouldn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on hardware and software that later turns out to be the wrong choice for your restaurant.
Below are the pricing plans for the three providers.
Apart from the free Start Bundle plan, the company offers three other paid pricing plans:
- Core ($69/month): ideal for restaurants that need a suite of POS hardware packages to meet their exact requirements
- Growth ($165/month): for restaurants that require extra online ordering and delivery features
- Custom (case-by-case pricing): ideal for restaurant businesses with multiple locations
Payment processing fees:
- 2.6% plus 10 cents (in-person transactions)
- 2.9% plus 30 cents (online transactions)
- 3.5% plus 15 cents (manually keyed transactions)
The provider offers different pricing plans depending on whether you run a full-service or quick-service restaurant.
- Starter ($160/month): ideal for restaurants that plan to take all orders from the counter
- Standard ($210/month): perfect for table service restaurants that need handheld POS systems
- Advanced ($310/month): for restaurants that want seamless communication between Front of House (FOH) and the Back of House (BOH)
- Starter ($100/month): includes a compact touchscreen POS system with a built-in printer
- Standard ($140/month): for counter service restaurants and includes the bigger, counter-optimized Clover Duo POS system
- Advanced ($190/month): for quick service restaurants with more complex operations, and the plan includes both Clover Flex and Clover Station Duo hardware
Payment Processing Fees:
- 2.3% + 10 cents (card-present transactions)
- 3.5% + 10 cents (keyed-in transactions)
This provider uses a much simpler pricing system because its POS software is free, and it’s up to users to decide whether they want to buy Square hardware. However, Square also offers two paid plans, and they are:
- Plus ($60/month): ideal for restaurants that need advanced reporting and analytics features
- Custom (case-by-case pricing): limited to restaurant businesses that process more than $250,000 per year
Payment Processing Fees
- 2.6% + 10 cents (swiped or inserted chip cards and contactless payments)
- 3.5% + 15 cents (keyed-in payments)
Your restaurant’s POS system is mission-critical hardware. If you are considering a potential provider, you want to be sure they will be available to provide support if your device malfunctions.
Peruse their website to see the range of customer support services on offer. The ideal situation is 24/7 phone and chat support. Self-help resources like articles and videos are also necessary.
We have highlighted the customer support services each provider offers below.
- 24/7 chat support
- Toast Central is an online repository of articles and FAQs
- Toast community
- Toast Learn for restaurant management training
- 24/7 phone support
- Clover Help is an online repository of articles and FAQs
- 24/7 phone support
- In-app support
- Online Square Support Center with articles and FAQs
- Square Seller Community
Which is the Best POS System?
There is no decisively superior option between the three restaurant POS systems, and the best option for your business will be the system that offers the best balance of features and pricing.
Also, you can visit online software review sites like Capterra and TrustRadius to view what current users are saying about each POS system. Their feedback should carry more weight in your decision-making process than what the provider claims on its website.
Slant: The Low-cost Purpose Built POS for Independent Restaurant Owners
If you are working on a tight budget with a plan to scale fast, then the Slant POS system is the right fit for your needs.
The biggest problem facing many budding food joints is the lack of funds to invest in new hardware. Slant is a cloud-based restaurant POS system that works seamlessly on Android devices.
You don’t need to buy new hardware. Access the back office online system from any device, and you will be ready to start processing counter service and online orders. There are also inventory management and reporting features.To see how the Slant restaurant POS system can transform your restaurant’s operations, visit our homepage to try it for free.