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One of the most important aspects of running a bar is providing great customer service. And in order to provide great customer service, your bar needs to utilize a great point of sale (POS) system. Having a point of sale system suited to your bar’s needs can make many of your operations tasks a cinch, allowing you to focus on providing a great experience to your customers.
The thing is, there are lots of different types of bars, each with their own unique needs. So let’s take a look at some of the best POS systems for bars. These options provide solutions that can work for a variety of different alcohol-serving establishments. Whether you’re opening a new bar, operating a local neighborhood watering hole, or running the hottest nightclub in town, here’s your shortlist for the best POS systems for bars.
To select the best POS system for your bar, it helps to know what a bar needs in a POS system. Every business requires a combination of software and hardware that allows them to run transactions. A restaurant POS, for example, will want to have a good floor plan interface and an easy way to route orders to the kitchen. In your bar POS, you should look for the following:
Now that you know what to look for, here are our choices for the best POS systems for bars, plus what situations they would be best for:
Don’t let the name fool you; Square’s restaurant version of their POS software works very well for bars as well. But the price is the real selling point. We’d recommend it as an option for smaller bars just starting out. Here’s what you can expect when you sign up.
There are a lot of functions within Square for Restaurants that make sense for bars. Let’s review them:
Bar POS hardware doesn’t need to get too complicated. Most bars can function with one to two terminals and a credit card processor. For bar owners, Square recommends buying its Windfall Stand Station hardware kit.
This kit comes with a Windfall Stand for your iPad, a card reader than can accept swipe, dip, and contactless payments, a cash drawer, receipt printer, and kitchen printer for a total cost of $1,082. Note that iPads are sold separately.
Square for Restaurants is cheaper than most bar POS systems. You can use the software on a single terminal for $60 per month. Every additional terminal will cost another $40 per month. You also get generous credit card processing rates: 2.6% + $0.10 per swipe, dip, or contactless payment. Plus, you can use Square for Restaurants month-to-month and cancel at any time.
Sign Up for Square for Restaurants
Unlike Square, Toast makes POS systems directly for the food service industry, meaning its features are more aligned with the needs of servers and bartenders. Using Toast POS is more expensive than using Square, which is why we’d recommend it for midsize establishments or bars that are experiencing a growth period. If that’s you, here’s what Toast POS brings to the table (or bar).
Toast can do most of what Square for Restaurants can do, including multi-location management and custom roles and permissions. Where you pay extra is for the following features:
Toast POS offers individual hardware items and bundles. Bundles start at $450 for a handheld tablet bundle to $1,350 for a terminal bundle (comes with 10-inch terminal, card reader, receipt printer, cash drawer, and tablet). Individual hardware items are sold via quote-based pricing, and all hardware comes with 0% financing for 36 months and a two-year warranty. We should also mention that, unlike Square, Toast POS is Android-based, meaning it runs on the Android operating system (i.e. you need a tablet instead of an iPad).
For bars, Toast recommends its Toast Go product—a handheld piece of hardware that acts as a mobile POS system (mPOS). The Toast Go allows servers to take orders from anywhere in the bar and route them to a specific bar (e.g. upstairs bar/downstairs bar). You can also take swipe, dip, and contactless forms of payment and send text receipts. Pricing on the Toast Go is quote-based, and depends on how many terminals are running the Toast POS software.
Toast POS costs $79 per month to use on one terminal. Additional terminals are each $50 more per month. For more than six terminals in a single restaurant, Toast offers quote-based pricing. If you sign up to use Toast POS software, Toast also requires you use their in-house payment processing system. Toast doesn’t list what their credit card processing fees are. Instead, they say they will work with you to build a custom credit card processing rate that makes sense for your business. Generally, higher-volume merchants get lower credit card processing rates.
One of the largest food service industry POS systems in the world is TouchBistro. With over 16,000 clients in more than 100 countries, TouchBistro would naturally offer a wide range of functionality for bars and lots of other types of food service businesses. In fact, many of the features offered in Square and Toast are also a part of TouchBistro. If you’re a large bar that does lots of transactions on a nightly basis, TouchBistro has tools that can make your workload more manageable.
TouchBistro says its bar POS is designed by bartenders for bartenders. Here’s what that looks like:
Like Square for Restaurants, TouchBistro can only work on iOS devices. There is a lot of different POS hardware that is compatible with TouchBistro. On their website, TouchBistro sells receipt printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners, iPad stands and enclosures, routers, keyboards, monitors, and ethernet ports. Depending on what hardware you need and how many terminals you plan to use in your bar, TouchBistro will provide you with a quote (more on this later).
Note that TouchBistro does not offer in-house payment processing, meaning you will need to acquire your card reader through a third-party vendor. Currently, TouchBistro integrates with Square, PayPal, Worldpay, Chase Merchant Services, and a variety of other payment processors.
TouchBistro offers four different pricing plans depending on how many terminals you plan to run the TouchBistro POS software on. One terminal costs $69 per month or $105 per month if you want to bundle it with the cost of your hardware. Two terminals will cost $129 per month or $209 per month for the hardware/software bundle. Three to five terminals costs $249 or $359 for the bundle, and an unlimited number of terminals costs $359 or $599 for the bundle.
As you can see, bigger bars that operate more terminals will get more value from using TouchBistro, making it a great option for high-volume merchants.
Square, Toast, and TouchBistro all offer good POS solutions for bars in various stages of growth. Regardless of which one you choose, remember the goal of a good bar POS system is to minimize logistics so that your staff can focus on delivering a great customer experience and you can focus on growing your business.