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Trend Report: What Restaurants Want Next From Their POS

Experts from HT‘s MURTEC Content Council share their insights on what restaurant operators should be looking for in POS implementations.
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HT devotes a fair amount of coverage to the restaurant point-of-sale system (POS), including an annual POS software trends research study and conference sessions on best practices. The Restaurant Technoligy Network devoted an entire ebook to POS. 

As I’ve mentioned from the MURTEC stage, if the kitchen is the heart of the restaurant, today’s POS is the brain.

“POS is a central component of a restaurant’s tech stack,” says Daniel J. Connolly, PhD, Dean of the School of Business, St. John Fisher University. “Its capabilities must be quite sophisticated, and it must be able to communicate well with a number of different restaurant systems to support, among other things, revenue growth, order entry, upselling, kitchen production, inventory management, reservations and table management, labor scheduling, omni-channel integration, and more.”

Here, in conversations with HT’s MURTEC Content Council, we take a look at what restaurant operators truly need and most want from their point-of-sale, focusing on the current essentials and a provocative wish list for the near future.

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POS essentials

What Are the Current POS Essentials?

"When considering a POS system for restaurants and hospitality, it's essential to ensure the system is efficient, effective, and aligned with industry needs,” says Tom Seeker, a seasoned CIO/CTO, most recently at Earl Enterprises. “Key considerations include ease of use, integration, mobility, customization, security, analytics and reporting, support and training, scalability, and cost."

Skip Kimpel, Principal Consultant, New Business Development, ConStrata Consulting, notes, "There are two trains of thought with POS investments, depending on the size of the organization. Smaller operators seek a 'boombox' approach, where key functionalities are built into the system without needing additional third-party products. However, once you add in all the extra options, costs can exceed expectations. The benefit is dealing with a single vendor for any issues. Larger restaurant chains, on the other hand, should prioritize deep integration capabilities with best-of-breed solutions.”

But Kimpel cautions that trust in data and reliable support are non-negotiable. Accurate data is essential for operational decisions, and poor installation or inadequate system mapping often leads to issues. Therefore, investing time in proper setup and continuous support is crucial for maintaining data integrity.

Lee Holman, Lead Retail Analyst, IHL Group, observes, "If I were looking for a new POS software solution, essential features would include microservices architecture for future development, cloud-based infrastructure for seamless updates and scalability, and robust order management and payment processing options."

Holman also stresses that a POS system must have an intuitive, user-friendly UI, extensive integrations for supply chain, inventory visibility, CRM, promotions, scheduling, analytics, and KDS, as well as support for multiple languages and currencies. In addition, mobile adaptability is crucial for a modern POS system, ensuring it meets the demands of today's dynamic restaurant environment.

POS wish list

What Belongs on Your POS Wish List? 

Kimpel believes the future of POS lies in its evolution from being the central system to becoming a transactional engine within a broader data ecosystem. A robust Content Management System (CMS) will be pivotal, managing data across various applications and providing actionable insights to drive business decisions.

“A reimagined user interface specifically designed for the deskless workforce is a top priority,” says Hanson Li, CEO, Lazy Susan. “This new UX should be more engaging and intuitive, reducing the need for excessive clicks and providing managers with quick access to critical information. The goal is to develop a system that surfaces insights and actionable data seamlessly, improving day-to-day operations.”

Seeker says, "My future wish list for a POS system includes full integration of all key restaurant and hospitality tools, using a standard like those established by the Restaurant Technology Network.. This would provide a ‘single pane of glass,’ eliminating multiple steps when managing on-premise, curbside, and other services."

Seeker also notes that the ability to create an item in one place and have it propagate everywhere, as well as being able to 86 items simultaneously across all best-in-class systems, would be an ideal feature for future POS solutions.

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