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While the purpose of owning and operating a bar might seem quite obvious, the actual process of operating a successful bar can be quite challenging. Not only do you need a decent understanding of the restaurant business, but you also need the right tools to get the job done.
You can think of a point of sale system like the brain of a bar. It helps keep operations under control as you and your employees perform your day-to-day functions. A great POS system will help optimize your workflow so that you can expedite service and create a more efficient atmosphere for both employees and customers.
Let's look at some of the best POS systems for bars on the market today.
Bars that want a highly customizable POS system with detailed reporting
$99/month per POS terminal with annual upfront billing
24/7 phone and web support
Pre-authorized payments, Digital menu boards, Table management, and Employee management
Those who want an Android-based solution
$79/month for one POS terminal. Additional terminals cost $50 each
24/7 technical assistance and hands-on training material
Pre-authorized payments, advanced POS reports, split bill functionality, employee management
Those who want access to third-party integrations
$69/month for one POS register
Custom floor plan management split bill functionality, built-in PCI compliance, tableside ordering
Those seeking out the most affordable solution
Free + Additional Hardware and Feature Fees
24/7 customer support with a paid plan
Menu management, inventory control, discounting, and table management
Those looking for a highly customizable system
$59 per month
Back-office report generator, remote printing, table management, online ordering
Those looking for a full-service bar and restaurant support
$69 per month per terminal
Offline operation, <enu management, remote reporting, self-order kiosks
Mobile-based system for small to mid-sized restaurants
$69 per month + Additional Quotes
Check Splitting, Ingredient Tracking, Kitchen Printing
Revel is one of the most powerful bar POS systems on the market today.
While it does come with a fairly steep price tag, especially if you are on a budget, the unique features make it worth the cost.
This is because Revel has one of the most customizable systems on the market today.
It is the best POS system for larger establishments if you are willing to pay more for a higher quality POS system.
With the Revel POS system, you will be able to manage your staff, credit card pre-authorize payments, and manage all of your tables, all thanks to the robust POS software included in this system.
Some of the top, bar-specific features of Revel POS systems include:
The beauty of Revel POS Systems is that the company does limit you to using its POS hardware. If you already have the hardware, or if you want to find cheaper hardware to purchase elsewhere, you can easily integrate it with this POS system.
In terms of pricing, this bar POS system starts out at $99 per month, which includes one POS terminal and annual upfront billing. Do note that Revel does have its clients sign a three-year contract. Revel POS provides its own payment processing as well, though you can choose to integrate your POS system with other payment processors.
If you run a large bar or nightclub and you have more capital to draw from, we highly recommend looking at Revel POS systems.
Toast is one of the best Android-based point of sale systems in the restaurant industry.
When you implement Toast in your nightclub or bar, you implement serious efficiency.
Toast has the ability to streamline daily bar operations and boost the experience of your customers.
It is worth noting that Toast has a high price point, which means it is more suitable for bars and restaurants with more money to spare.
Toast, similar to many other POS systems, allows you to accept credit card payments and has plenty of other high-quality features that make it well worth the cost.
Some of the top features of the Toast POS system include:
Another thing to note about the Toast POS system is that you must use the company's proprietary in-house payment processing. They offer customers various rates depending on the needs of their business rather than publicly advertising any sort of credit card processing fees.
In terms of the overall price for the POS system, you can expect to spend $79 per month for a single terminal. Each additional POS terminal costs an extra $50. It is good to know that Toast offers special quotes for bars that need more than six terminals.
Square for Restaurants is on the opposite of the spectrum from Toast POS in that it is an iPad POS system.
It comes with many features that are specific to bars.
Similar to other products in the Square lineup, Square for Restaurants is incredibly easy to use and very affordable.
It is one of the best bar POS systems on the market for small business owners.
Of course, with the lower cost, you don't get nearly the same feature set as you would expect from full-fledged bar POS systems, though the bar-specific features that Square for Restaurants provides are more than enough for a small business to get started.
Some of these bar POS software features include:
The POS app for Square for Restaurants is completely free and does not come with any additional monthly fees. The only thing that you have to pay for with Square is the company's payment processing. Every time you make a sale, you will pay a flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10 for every sale.
When it comes to the POS hardware from Square, you will have to pay $60 per month for the first register. Every additional register costs $40 per month. Square for Restaurants is one of the most affordable bar POS systems for small business owners. It is one of our top recommendations for those seeking out a bar POS system that is simple and won't break the bank.
If you run a high-volume bar, you are going to want a bar POS system that can keep up.
Upserve is one of the best point of sale systems for high-volume bars around.
One thing we love about Upserve is that they have a very transparent pricing system for different tiers of business.
The basic, entry-level package starts out at $59 per month.
With that price, you get a single POS terminal. Each additional POS terminal will cost you $60 per month.
If your bar business wants to unlock special features, such as loyalty programs, inventory management, bartender performance insights, and more, you will need to upgrade to the $199 Pro Package.
Upserve comes with a variety of service industry-specific features, including:
The Upserve bar POS system allows you to easily pre-authorize credit cards. It also comes with a very flexible check management system so that you can split checks with ease. Credit card processing rates are negotiated during the sign-up process, though you can expect your rate to hover around 2.49% + 15 cents for standard transactions. The beauty of Upserve is that its payment processing rates are much lower than that of its business competitors.
The inventory management features are another thing we love about Upserve. You can track your ingredients and automate purchase orders. The POS system measures all of the costs and margins for every single item that you order., helping you to create menu pricing based on the target costs of your bar menu items.
This cloud-based system is one of our favorites for high-end bar establishments. One of the biggest downsides is the steep price.
TouchBistro is an excellent POS system for bar owners who are looking for POS software that is iOS-based.
While this robust POS system is not completely cloud-based, it does come with many cloud-based reporting and business analytics features, all of which run on your local network.
The cool thing about TouchBistro is that it was designed by those who have worked in the restaurant business.
This means that the features packed into this particular POS system are specifically for bar, restaurant, and nightclub owners.
Plus, they are very user-friendly. Some of the top features include:
The pricing with TouchBistro is based on the license that you have. The company bills you annually on one of four different POS software tiers plans. Those POS tiers include the Solo plan for $69 per month and one license, the Dual plan for $129 per month and two licenses, the Team plan for $249 per month and up to five licenses, and the Unlimited plan that comes with a custom price quote and more than six licenses.
With multiple license plans, TouchBistro is one of our top recommendations for multi-location businesses.
It is worth noting that TouchBistro has its own credit card processing service. This particular point of sale solution partners you up with Chase, though customers may choose credit card processing company if they aren't a fan of the processing fees.
Shopkeep is a wonderful choice for both small and mid-sized bars or beverage businesses.
The main focus of Shopkeep POS systems is quick-service businesses.
It is worth noting that Shopkeep POS software can run on Clover devices too.
While Shopkeep does not have features that are specifically for bars, which makes it a bit less advanced than other POS systems for bars, it does have enough features to keep your bar running efficiently.
Some of the top features on Shopkeep POS systems include:
The pricing model for Shopkeep is quite unique in that it is based purely on monthly subscriptions. The company does not provide you with any sort of contract to get started, making it an excellent option for businesses that are just getting started. Shopkeep creates custom price quotes for each new business that it works with.
Shopkeep POS system terminals will cost you $69 per month to start. You can get up to three POS stations for your bar. Every POS station beyond that third one will cost $29 per month.
Shopkeep also has a free POS plan if you
The free Shopkeep bar POS software has sales reporting features and unlimited inventory.
There are two separate POS solutions when it comes to Lightspeed POS, including Lightspeed Retail and Lightspeed Restaurant.
For those in the bar and restaurant business, we recommend Lightspeed Restaurant.
Lightspeed Restaurant is rich in features and is perfect for smaller businesses and mid-sized businesses, including bars, full-service restaurants, coffee shops, and more.
Lightspeed is an iPad-operated bar POS system that comes with a wide range of features perfect for keeping your bar running smoothly.
Some of the bar features include:
For every credit card that is swiped, dipped, or tapped, Lightspeed Restaurant POS will charge you 2.6% + $0.10. It is important to consider the POS hardware price as well. One Lightspeed POS register costs $69 per month. Lightspeed POS provides custom a custom price point for each of its customers who need more than one terminal in their bar.
There are some wonderful add-on packages that come with Lightspeed POS systems, including POS features that are specialized for customer loyalty, delivery integration, and self-order kiosks. The price points on these additional packages range from $12 per month to $39 per month depending on what bar features you want.
For bar owners that are okay with paying a bit more to enjoy POS features that are more specific to the service industry, Lightspeed POS is one of our top recommendations.
There is no question that bars have specific needs when it comes to POS systems. Not every POS system on the market comes with the proper features and functionality to optimize the type of business model found in bars.
This is precisely why you need to look for the right system features when choosing the point of sale system for your bar. Here are some of the top considerations you should make as a bar owner:
For starters, you will want to look at the features that your chosen POS system has to offer, and if those features fit the business model of your bar or restaurant. The last thing you want is to have your POS system cut into your efficiency and scare customers away.
Let's say that you run a bar that serves food. You might want to look for features such as ingredient tracking or order management. If your bar has table service, you might want to look for a point of sale solution that has floor plan management so that you can keep your food ordering organized.
You may want to look for a POS system that can track sales, implement email marketing, utilize credit card pre-authorization, accept online ordering, create gift cards, design a loyalty program, provide insightful customer data, help with theft prevention using quality security, implement customer relationship management, and help with inventory tracking.
As you can see, there are plenty of bar POS features that you'll want to consider before ever making a commitment to one POS solution. Consider the future of your bar too. Will you run multiple bars in the future? If so, you might want to consider multi-location support. Do you want to sell clothing or other types of gear related to your bar? If so, you might want to consider looking into a hybrid retail POS system.
You need to consider the type of hardware that you will need to run your bar, as hardware can have a huge impact on your overall budget. Look at how many POS terminals you need to get started. Do you need a single terminal or multiple? Do you need a cash drawer or credit card reader? How about a kitchen display system? Maybe you want to get handheld POS terminals so that your staff can wait on guests from their tables.
All bars have unique setups. The POS hardware that you choose to acquire will completely depend on what you need to get started, though keep in mind where you might want to expand to in the future.
The last thing that you want to do is pick the POS system with the lowest price and call it a day.
If you do that, you might end up with a POS system that isn't the right fit for your business.
Plus, sometimes the POS systems that cost the least end up costing more in the long run due to additional features and expensive contracts.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to looking at the price point of different POS systems for bars, including:
All staff members should be able to accept tips from customers, not only your bartender. One of the best ways to utilize this type of feature is to look for a POS system with mobile POS functionality. With mobile POS, you can easily drive transaction efficiency throughout your business.
While splitting checks can feel like the bane of an employee's existence, it is one of those things that is seemingly inevitable. This is why you should search for a restaurant POS system that can split checks and apply multiple forms of payment, including cash and credit cards, to different transactions. One of the best ways to keep customers coming back to your bar is by streamlining their experience when they are already there.
You want to look for a POS company that provides great customer service. When you work in the bar industry, the hours are quite the opposite of normal workday hours. You want to find a POS business that can provide you with the support you need any time throughout the day or night. The last thing you want is for your system to go down without any way to process credit cards during a late-night rush while not having anyone to call.
When you find the right point of sale system to start out, you minimize long-run risks. We understand that the initial investment can seem overwhelming at first, though you must keep in mind that having the best point of sale software for your specific business will only optimize your potential and make you more money in the long run.
If you want to get a feel for how various POS systems work, make sure to inquire about any free trials or demos. Many companies will offer these up so that customers can see how the POS software and hardware will work in their establishment.
While all of the POS systems for bars on this list are great in their own unique ways, we highly recommend checking out Revel systems. Revel Systems has wonderful point of sale solutions for bars that are completely customizable. With incredible inventory management and inventory tracking features, online ordering capabilities, loyalty program design, drink order features, staff management, and so much more, it is one of most versatile point of sale solutions for bar owners, nightclub owners, and small business owners in the beverage industry.