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Ambur POS is a restaurant POS system owned by ShopKeep. Ambur’s software offerings are a bit limited, and their payment processing system can only accept magstripe cards. Furthermore, pricing for Ambur POS starts at $59 per month (if paid annually), making it a rather expensive option.
Ambur Point of Sale (POS) has an interesting origin story. The software was built in 2009 by a restaurant owner who was looking for a way to punch in customer orders on his iPhone instead of jotting them down on a notepad. By 2011, Ambur POS was available to be downloaded in the iOS app store, and in 2015, it was acquired by ShopKeep—one of the most popular iPad POS system providers in the industry.
Today Ambur POS is still a relatively niche product—it’s used by several thousand restaurateurs across the United States. But just because it’s a smaller business than most restaurant POS providers doesn’t mean it can’t be the right solution for your restaurant. After all, smaller POS providers tend to be more responsive to the needs of their clientele.
So let’s see what Ambur POS can offer your business. We’ll touch on features, cost, and overall value. Plus, we’ll look at some alternatives to Ambur POS so you can understand exactly what is out there in the restaurant POS market.
Ambur POS is a cloud-based point of sale system. This means your data is stored remotely on Ambur’s servers and transferred to your device via the cloud. Your data is also stored in Dropbox’s free storage service as a backup. Ambur POS can operate offline, but data cannot be backed up to Dropbox during an internet outage. All POS devices are connected within Ambur via a local wireless network.
Getting started with Ambur POS is as simple as signing up for a free demo and downloading the Ambur POS app onto your device. You’ll also have to customize your settings for things like screen display and taxes. Once your system is up and running, you’ll have access to a variety of capabilities. Let’s take a look at everything Ambur POS does.
Ambur POS isn’t the most feature-rich restaurant POS systems we’ve ever reviewed, but it should be able to carry the load for most restaurants. Here’s what this system comes with:
In order to process payments with Ambur, you need to sign up for a BridgePay payment gateway. This is offered for free with your Ambur account. BridgePay links your merchant services provider and your iPad POS terminal. Once you get BridgePay credentials, enter them into Ambur to start processing credit cards.
BridgePay is compatible with a wide variety of payment processors. Some of your options include TSYS, WorldPay, First Data, and Heartland Payments. Your payment processing rate (typically an interchange-plus rate) is determined by your specific payment processor.
As far as credit card terminals, Ambur POS only works with an iDynamo card reader. You can acquire your iDynamo card reader through Ambur. iDynamo card readers accept magstripe payments and can process Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cards.
As we already mentioned, Ambur is an iPad POS system that needs iOS 8.3 or later to work. Ambur should also work with whatever POS hardware you currently have. If you need to purchase hardware, you can do so at the ShopKeep Store. The nice thing about this is that ShopKeep offers various hardware bundles for different types of businesses. There are two options for restaurants, both of which are quote-based:
Quick-Service Hardware Kit
Note that certain receipt printers and card readers are not compatible with Ambur. Ambur recommends reaching out to confirm your hardware is compatible before purchasing.
Ambur POS offers most of what you need to manage orders and payment. New orders are input by selecting a table and punching in items to be assigned to that table. Each order includes the name of the server that took the order, the time the order was input, and the amount the order costs. You can also specify if the order is to stay, to go, or to be delivered and add unlimited modifiers to an order. Plus, you can transfer orders between the bar and dining room.
Other features include a reservations management interface and a custom floor plan creator. The reservation management interface syncs with the customer database (more on this later) and allows you to send texts or emails to confirm a reservation. The floor plan creator uses a drag and drop tool to create a floor plan that matches the look of your dining room. You can also assign the number of guests to a table, assign a server to a table, and give each table a unique name or number. The floor plan is color coded based on if a table is open, occupied, or waiting to pay.
Speaking of payment, Ambur allows servers to accept payment tableside via the iDynamo card reader and lets customers split checks in whatever way they deem suitable. Customers can also pay via coupon.
Another robust area of functionality for Ambur is the employee management interface. From here you can create profiles on each employee, create POS permissions based on job type, set hourly wages, reconcile tips, and set employee schedules. What’s more, Ambur has a time clock that syncs with a payroll tool that allows you to see what each employee is owed based on the hours they worked in a given time period.
One other nifty feature is something called Audit Logs. This tool gives you a rundown of every action logged in your POS over a period of time, allowing you to see when orders were created, who created them, when payments were created, when someone allowed a permissions override, and more. What’s more, these logs are saved for up to 30 days and can be downloaded and emailed.
Ambur’s menu management interface is pretty standard. You can create different menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and different sections of menus for appetizers, main courses, and desserts. You can also add or remove items from a menu in real time so that servers don’t accept orders on items you don’t currently have inventory for.
Ambur makes no mention of their inventory management features on their website, but according to customer review websites, you can track your inventory via the app, but you cannot place purchase orders or assign ingredients to menu items.
Ambur features a database where you can store customer contact and payment information (with their permission). You can also create reservations for customers from the database.
Ambur allows you to view your sales numbers in real time, identify your restaurant’s busiest hours, evaluate your cost of labor, see which menu items are performing best, and view your historical sales data to capitalize on trends.
Ambur POS does not currently integrate with other third-party applications.
Ambur POS is PCI compliant and offers the aforementioned free data backups to Dropbox.
Ambur POS offers 24/7 support via phone and email. There is also a very helpful Support Center with guides on everything from setting up and using your system to installing hardware and running reports. There are also video tutorials for visual learners.
Ambur POS offers three pricing plans based on how many iPads you plan to use as POS terminals in your restaurant. All plans come with the same features. Here’s a look at all three plans:
Note that Ambur allows you to change plans at any given time for no additional fee.
Source: Ambur POS
Now that we’ve covered what this system does, let’s tell you what we like about it.
We’re impressed by the feature set Ambur offers to manage staff. Calculating payroll is something most other POS providers charge extra for, so it’s nice to see Ambur offering it for free. The Audit Log also creates more accountability among your employees.
For those concerned with data security, Ambur’s Dropbox backups are a nice feature. Dropbox continuously syncs with your POS system while connected to the internet, ensuring that no important information is lost. You can even email reports to your database, or export your database as a PDF file.
Unfortunately, Ambur gave us quite a few concerns. Here are some problem areas we’ve identified:
Relative to other restaurant POS systems on the market, you’re paying quite a bit to use software that is fairly limited, especially if you go with the monthly plan. For comparison’s sake, you can use Square for Restaurants (which we feel is a superior software) on two separate terminals for the same price it would cost you to use Ambur POS on one terminal with the monthly plan. That’s before we factor in the price of your POS hardware, which is entirely quote-based. To us, it seems you’re paying quite a bit of money for what you’re getting.
We appreciate that Ambur POS allows you to pick your own payment processor to work with, but the fact that you have to use the iDynamo card reader (and that it only works for magstripe payments) feels pretty retrograde. In this day and age, you need to be able to accommodate your customers and whatever way they want to pay. By only being able to accept magstripe payments, you risk losing out on sales.
We commended Ambur for its robust employee and front of house management features, but other areas of this software feel pretty lacking. This is surprising considering Ambur is owned by ShopKeep, which boasts great POS software. Regardless, Ambur’s inventory and customer management features miss the mark, and the fact that Ambur doesn’t integrate with third-party software only compounds this problem.
Here is how Ambur ranks on major customer review platforms:
Ambur reviews generally skew negative. Some of the most common complaints include customer service that is slow to respond and unhelpful when they do. Customers also cite the lack of menu management and inventory features as negatives, as well as Ambur’s lack of third-party applications.
Positive reviews say that the software is fairly easy to set up and use and that ShopKeep can provide merchants with a nice variety of hardware solutions.
If you’re not sold on using Ambur POS for your restaurant, here are some top alternatives to consider:
We like TouchBistro for its combination of powerful software and affordable pricing. With this iPad POS system you get front of house tools; a floor plan creator; menu, customer, employee, and inventory management interfaces; plus access to a loyalty program and integrations with about a dozen different apps. TouchBistro customers can also get important hardware tools like a digital menu board, self-ordering kiosk, kitchen display system, and customer facing display. The best part is that your software and hardware costs can be bundled together and paid for month-to-month. Prices start at $105 per month.
As we said earlier, Square for Restaurants manages to pack in more features at a lower cost than Ambur, making it an obvious choice as an alternative. Besides all the features also offered by Ambur, Square for Restaurants has a delivery management platform, loyalty program, and marketing and payroll add-ons. You’ll also get access to Square’s affordable payment processing rates, which start at 2.75%. Like TouchBistro and Ambur, Square runs on iPads, and it features some of the most popular hardware options on the market. The price of Square for Restaurants is $60 for one terminal and an additional $20 for every terminal thereafter.
Sign Up for Square for Restaurants
If you’re in the market for a restaurant POS system, there are, frankly, better options than Ambur POS. The price of the system does not justify what you get in return, and there are multiple options out there that exceed Ambur in terms of capability and price. In short, we recommend considering your alternatives.