Here are the top POS systems that can take your bar to the next level:
Robust and totally customizable service
Extensive reporting for real-time tracking
Starts at $119/month
An excellent bar POS system with multiple locations, cloud-based Revel offers several add-ons for easy customization and features like inventory tracking, tableside and online ordering, and an age verifier built in.
Great option for businesses of all sizes
Runs entirely on iPads
$69 - $399/month for unlimited package
One of the best POS systems for quick service for bars, TouchBistro allows mobile payments for tableside service, bill-splitting, staff management, inventory tracking, and good reporting tools. It’s also iPad-ready for your convenience.
Easy, fast, reliable and built with restaurants in mind
One cloud-based platform
Starts at $99/month
Upserve has perfected customization, with the ability to tailor menus, dishes, and even tables in real time. It also has excellent analytics and 24-hour customer support.
A wide range of software integrations
Integrated online ordering available
Starts at $79/month
Another worthy option, Toast is designed with bars in mind, keeping all your tech ingredients in one place for a stellar and efficient POS that makes running your bar easy. It's a true full-service POS system for bars and restaurants that lets you run your entire restaurant from one interface.
Why You Want a POS for Your Bar
Before we look at how different systems rate, let’s dive into the reasons why every bar should be incorporating POS systems into their operations:
POS systems save time and frustration for staff, cutting back on manual error and alleviate the need to constantly run back and forth between table and register. That means your staff can reach more customers faster.
Bar POS software is the easiest way to keep track of inventory and schedule orders automatically. The software will also help cut down on supply shortages and over-ordering. With POS systems, inventory monitoring can even be done remotely for off-site control. Cloud-based systems like Lightspeed are ideal for this type of flexibility.
Sales tracking made simple
A typical bar/pub sees hundreds of sales each day, paid with a combination of cash and credit. POS systems allow bar managers to track sales instantly, 24/7. Savvy managers can even alter their menu on the spot with order tracking tools that show you which items are hot right now and which are not.
Credit card ease
Credit card processing is a headache for most restaurants, but POS systems offer an easy solution that combines both payment acceptance and credit and debit card processors in one. This alleviates the need for excessive hardware as well as for multiple monthly payments for various services.
In addition to being a safer credit card processing method, bar POS systems are also more robust security tools that help reduce employee theft and staff slip-ups. Once entered into the system, an order cannot be changed without a supervisor’s code, so staff members won’t be tempted to add items to the check and skim off the top.
Best Bar POS Software Features to Look For
POS systems today come with a truckload of features, but they may not all be helpful for managing your pub. Here are some of the POS features that you need in order to succeed:
Speed is essential for an industry with fast turnover and orders, such as in a pizza shop. Many systems come with large product order buttons for easy recognition and billing. Oh, and since speed is so important...
With the fast pace of a typical bar scene, you don’t want your staff tied down to clunky machinery. Look for POS systems that are handheld and mobile/tablet-compatible for the fastest and most convenient option. Being able to handle receipts and charges directly at the table or bar also gives your staff more time with customers, which is likely to increase sales and loyalty. Revel and TouchBistro both offer iPad compatibility with their services.
You’ll need an off-hours support staff since most bars are open at night when customer service reps are usually off the clock. Look for 24-hour support.
Accountability is important in any industry, and even more so in one that involves alcohol. POS systems for bars ensure accountability from staff as user access permissions and ID scanners keep tabs on who’s working and what they’re doing.
When it comes to customers, pre-authentication signatures ensure that you get paid even if your customer walks out and forgets to pay—or is too inebriated to do so.
Just by swiping their card, customers can open a tab for dramatically smoother sales. Now they can order another round with just one button or keep coming back to the bar for another drink. Tabs can also be customized according to customer name rather than by table number so you can reward regular customers and keep track of ongoing tabs. Frequent customers’ tabs can remain open and accessed with just a name or the last 4 digits of their credit card. Finally, tabs can be reached from any terminal to easily add drinks or cash out.
Price scheduling is an invaluable tool that most bar managers love. It’s great for happy hour, multiple menus, and specials. You can even program rotating prices that automatically change, or duration pricing—for pool tables, VIP rooms, or other time-based services.
Unless you only have one bartender or waitress working around the clock, you are going to need a system that supports multiple user logins. Many systems come with fingerprint scanners, numerical keypads, or card readers for an added level of security.
Inventory control monitors and dispenses alcohol and other items for exact reporting. This feature also lets you break up specific products into different sales units—for example, a bottle of vodka can be priced as a bottle and as a shot—so you can see exactly what is being used, when, and how, and when you need to order more.
Employee/sales tracking and management
This feature lets you know exactly who’s giving out drinks and when. In addition to helping you uncover any employee theft, employee tracking can also project sales to help you get a better handle on employee scheduling. Also look for the blind closeout feature to keep register skimming curbed.
This neat feature will cut down on confusion and delays trying to recall the exact drink recipe being ordered. POS systems will automatically display images and recipes for drinks ordered as well as let you customize drink orders for customers who are particular about not having mint in their mojitos.
This is not a recommendation, it’s a must. Not only will it help you catch shrink in action (when bartenders give people freebies without paying for them), but it will help you keep an eye on employees skimming off the register and any brawls that might be brewing.
Because a lot of people who frequent your bar aren’t going to want to put those drinks on their credit card, make sure your POS is cash-compliant.
A customer relationship management (CRM) tool is actually more valuable for pubs than you’d imagine. Getting a steady trickle of drinkers is good, but what really makes a bar profitable are the frequent customers that come in and spend all the time. A CRM allows you to take note of big spenders, manage their orders, and deal with them accordingly. This could mean sending out promotional emails, discounts via SMS, or invitations to upcoming events for VIPs. These tricks will get the big spenders to keep coming back to your bar rather than spending their money somewhere else.
Introducing a top POS system at your bar can not only help you track sales and inventory, it can also make running your business easier and improve security. If you want to improve your customers’ experience and keep your staff happy at the same time then making sure you have the right POS system is key.