Compare the best bar POS systems [2020]

Every Bar owner and staff worker knows that a the ability to work fast and serve fast is what makes the difference between a good bar to a really great one. Having the Best POS designed for Bars is the tool to make this happen. Important features like price scheduling, split inventory for liquor pours, and Drink recipe lists are what to look for when choosing your Bar POS.

Compare the best bar POS systems [2020]

Every Bar owner and staff worker knows that a the ability to work fast and serve fast is what makes the difference between a good bar to a really great one. Having the Best POS designed for Bars is the tool to make this happen. Important features like price scheduling, split inventory for liquor pours, and Drink recipe lists are what to look for when choosing your Bar POS.

9.4/10
Outstanding

859 reviews on 3 websites

Shopkeep Best Features:

  • Offers No contracts & Pay as You Go Plans
  • Excellent Customer Service with 24/7 Support
  • Great Reporting & Inventory Management Features
  • iPad / tablet POS
  • Retail
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Inventory Management
9.1/10
Excellent

742 reviews on 3 websites

Revel POS is Best for:

  • Real Time Reports (Sales, inventory & More)
  • Great Customer Database & Loyalty Programs
  • Full Integration With Third Parties
  • iPad / tablet POS
  • Retail
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Pizza POS
  • Inventory Management
  • Online Ordering
8.8/10
Very Good

606 reviews on 3 websites

Touchbistro Best Features:

  • Reservations and Table Seating
  • Menu Management, Custom Reports
  • Inventory, Analytics and CRM
  • iPad / tablet POS
  • Restaurants
  • Table Organization
  • Staff Management
  • Online Ordering
  • Order From Table
8.5/10
Very Good

431 reviews on 3 websites

Upserve POS Best Features:

  • Payment Processing & Full Service Restaurant POS
  • Staff Management
  • Comprehensive Payment Services with Full Reporting
  • iPad / tablet POS
  • Restaurants
  • Quick Service
  • Bars
  • Pizza POS
  • Online Ordering
8.6/10
Very Good

734 reviews on 4 websites

Toast Best Features:

  • 24/7 Support via Phone, Chat & Email
  • Customizable Menu Software
  • Best Kitchen Display System
  • Restaurants
  • Quick Service
  • Bars
  • Staff Management
  • Online Ordering
7.6/10
Fair

238 reviews on 3 websites

Harbortouch POS Best Features:

  • Module Based, User Friendly Software
  • Comprehensive Training with Optional Installation
  • Supports All Major Credit Cards
  • Restaurants
  • Quick Service
  • Bars
  • Pizza POS
  • EMV Reader

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Helping you to find the best POS system for your bar

If you’re lucky enough to run your own bar, you need to find the best POS system for your needs; one which doesn’t just process transactions but offers much more, including sales reporting, bar tabs and inventory tracking, all while being affordable and easy to use for your staff.

The bar and nightclub industry in the US is as strong as ever, with around 62,000 establishments across the nation, which employ about 345,000 thousand people.

Despite more people choosing to stay home to drink, sales in bars have stayed strong, with an estimated $24bn spent in drinking establishments in 2017.

Whether it’s a bar, tavern, or nightclub, the industry is in good health, but if you’re opening a bar and are in need of a POS system, you might not know where to begin.

We’re going to take a look at why it’s so important to select the right POS system, as well as some of the best POS systems for bars and features that you need to be on the lookout for.

The Importance of Selecting the Right POS for Your Bar

There are a lot of things to consider when opening up your bar, but getting the right POS system is one of the most important things to remember.

A good POS system is one of the foundations of any successful business, as it will be used by your staff on an almost constant basis, to perform a number of important functions.

Your POS is also important to allow your staff to do their jobs to the best of their ability, making it nice and easy for them to process transactions, as well as perform a host of other functions too.

However, it’s also important for your customers, who are increasingly expecting a higher level of service from bars, which means they want the ordering process to be as simple and easy as possible, which your POS plays a key part in.

Your POS isn’t just important for processing sales though and helps to ease the burden of lots of manual tasks that come with running a bar, such as sales reporting and accounting too.

Selecting the right system for your bar is crucial to ensure the smooth running of your establishment, from the bar staff and the customers to your backroom office staff too, so what exactly should you be on the lookout for when choosing yours?

Important Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a POS System

Before starting to look at any specific systems for your bar, it’s important to take stock and think about a couple of things first.

Features

We’ll be delving into some of the more specific POS features that you might be interested in later on, but firstly, think about what is going to be useful for your bar.

Each business is different, and while one system will be perfect for some bars, it might be totally unsuited to your own.

Think about the current challenges that you face and how they could potentially be made easier. This will depend not only on the type of establishment that you’re running but also the size and how many employees you have.

Price

Installing a POS is a big financial commitment, so you want to make sure that it’s going to provide value to your bar, not just not, but in the long term as well.

You’ll have to take into account not just the initial installation cost, but also any additional hardware or software that you might need to purchase, as well as ongoing subscription costs.

Once you’ve paid the initial outlay to get your POS set up, the running costs shouldn’t be too high, but it’s important to take everything into account and think about how it’s going to fit into your budget.

Usability

You can have the best POS system in the world, but if none of your staff can easily use it, then it’s essentially worthless to you!

This a system which your staff are going to be using every single time somebody buys a drink from your bar, so they need to be super familiar with it and be able to learn how to use it as quickly as possible.

Thankfully, most companies will offer you a free trial of their system before you make any commitment, so you can give it a try to see just how easy it’s going to be to use.

Any system is going to take a little bit of training to get used to, but you don’t want to have to spend days training up every new member of staff to be able to get them started.

Customer Support

While you hopefully won’t ever run into any issues with your new POS system, it’s always good to know that there’s somebody on hand to chat to if you do run into any hiccups.

Most POS systems should offer a comprehensive level of customer support, whether this is over the phone, by email or live chat.

Especially in an industry such as the bar trade, with late opening hours, it’s crucial that support is on hand 24 hours a day so that if the worst was to happen, you can get back up and trading again as quickly as possible.

Some systems will also have inbuilt training modules to help you and your staff get answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about the POS.

Third-Party Integration

Finally, while most modern POS systems can handle the majority of tasks that you need them to, you may also want to integrate them with some of your existing software, such as your email service or accounting software.

The same goes for hardware, as some systems will work seamlessly with your existing equipment, while others will require you to buy a whole new set, so this is something to check out. 

Key POS Software Features

Now we’re going to take a look at some of the more specific features that you might require your bar POS to have, starting with software.

Inventory Management

As well as processing sales, your POS should allow you to keep a close eye on your current stock of inventory in real-time.

The POS should update with every sale, so that you know exactly know much of every item you still have left, making it much easier to know when it’s time to reorder, without needing to spend time keeping track of it yourself.

Of course, it’s also an easy way to easily spot any thefts, or perhaps even bar staff slipping sneaky drinks to their friends for free!

Reporting

A good POS system won’t just provide you with detailed reports of what your best and worst sellers are, but also should keep track of important customer information such as email addresses for marketing purposes too.

Over time, you can build up a comprehensive list of customers contacts which you can use for your email marketing (this is where third-party integration comes in) to target frequent customers with offers and events.

In terms of sales reporting, your POS should allow you to easily access financial information on any device, no matter where you are and some will allow you to drill down to more specific details than others.

Tipping

Tipping is a big part of a bartender’s income, so it’s important that your POS makes it as easy as possible to tip your staff.

One way that you can do this is by giving a suggested tip percentage, which can either be displayed on the customer’s check or on a handheld POS device when they’re making their payment.

This means that customers don’t have to figure out the tip themselves and makes it as easy as possible for them to do so if they want.

Menu Management

The menu of your bar likely changes on a fairly frequent basis, whether it’s special on drinks, happy hour offers, or just new products being offered by your suppliers.

For this reason, it’s important that it’s nice and easy for you to update the POS menu, whether it’s adding new products and offers, or removing items if you’re out of a particular item of stock

Customers will also throw some pretty crazy drinks requests at you, so your staff need to be able to customize orders on the POS to substitute in different liquors or ingredients as requested by the customer.

Splitting the Check

If you’re dealing with larger orders, you might find that groups would rather split their check and pay separately, which can actually be a bit of a nightmare if your POS doesn’t support it.

For example, you might have to cancel and restart the order, processing every person’s order individually, which just takes up too much time.

Instead, look for a POS system which allows you to easily split the check between a group of people to save yourself the headache!

Key POS Hardware Features

Card Reader

Obviously, the primary function of your POS system is to accept payments, so you’ll need to ensure that it is compatible with your card reader, as more and more people are paying for goods with credit or debit cards or mobile devices.

Ideally, you’ll also be able to accept contactless payments too, as things can get pretty hectic at peak times in a bar, so being able to accept payments that little bit quicker is all-important.

Something else which is of particular importance to the bar industry is the ability to preauthorize cards.

This allows you to easily save a customers card details as their bar tab and ensure that it has a certain amount of funds on it.

This means that they can’t rack up a bar bill that they’re not going to be able to afford, while also speeding up the process.

All of the customer’s card info will be encrypted on the device too, so their sensitive information won’t be at risk.

Cash Drawer

While a lot of payments these days are made by card, cash is still vital, so you will, of course, require a cash drawer to work with your POS system.

As in any other business, security is of the utmost importance, so make sure that your cash drawer is durable and secure.

The POS should have a user permission feature to ensure that staff will need a secure username and password to gain access to the system and cash drawer.

Mobile Payments

Increasingly, POS systems are no longer anchored to a central terminal, with mobile devices allowing staff to take payment from around the premises, making it much easier to take orders from tables.

Lots of POS systems these days are based on iPads or other tablet devices, which can help make processing orders and payments much more efficient for your staff.

The Best Bar POS Systems

ShopKeep

ShopKeep is an iPad-based POS system with features such as detailed inventory management and reporting, as well as good 24/7 support, all available at a competitive price.

One of ShopKeep’s best features is its detailed inventory tracking, which will detail how much of each product and ingredient you’ve got left, right down to the last drop, with a notification when you’re running low.

Like any good bar POS, ShopKeep allows you to set up tabs and split checks, although it doesn’t allow you to preauthorize cards, which may be an issue for you

ShopKeep is also easy to set up and use, with an intuitive touchscreen layout which is highly customizable to your menu, with pricing starting at around $69 per month, which is fairly reasonable for a bar POS, although you’ll need to get in touch for a custom quote.

Lavu

Lavu is a POS system designed specifically for bars and restaurants, with an all-in-one solution for your bar’s needs.

Features include easy onboarding, which is very useful in an industry renowned for its high staff turnover and quick and easy ordering and payment through the iPad POS.

If your bar also serves food, another of Lavu’s best features is that any orders that are [placed through the POS are automatically sent through to the kitchen, either via a printer or display system.

And unlike ShopKeep, Lavu has a preauthorization feature, which is extremely useful when it comes to creating bar tabs for your customers.

In terms of pricing, Lavu have a number of flexible plans to choose from, but a single terminal will cost you about $69 per month.

TouchBistro

TouchBistro is especially useful if your bar offers a food menu, as their POS system is geared toward restaurants.

However, they also have a host of features specific for bars too, such as the ‘fast bar’ register mode which allows your staff to process orders in just two taps and create and switch between dozens of active tabs, ideal for when the bar is packed with customers.

Its smart inventory tracking is also incredibly useful for planning happy hours and other special promotions, using your best selling products to help create smart promotions.

Whether you’ve got a full food menu or not, TouchBistro is definitely worth a look, with pricing starting at around $69 per month.

Toast

Toast is known for its wealth of features, including flexible tab management, preauthorization, mobile POS and more and is one of the favored systems for small businesses of all kinds, not just bars.

They have separate systems depending on your type of business (including bars and nightclubs) and can be customized based on the size of your business.

The tab and check management feature is one of Toast’s best attributes, allowing staff to preauthorize customers’ cards and open up a tab on one register before adding items from a different one and splitting the check between multiple different people and payment methods.

Toast is slightly more expensive than some of the other systems we’ve mentioned, with the Express package starting at $79 per month, although this is still a reasonable price for the features that you’re receiving.

Upserve

Formerly known as Breadcrumb, Upserve is known as being one of the fastest POS systems on the market, meaning you can process your orders and get your customers served that little bit quicker.

Some of the standout features from Upserve include the ability for customers to sign their checks directly on the iPad screen and flexible interface which can be customized to show your most ordered drinks.

However, Upserve is slightly more expensive than some of the other systems that we’ve looked at, with their Core package starting at $99 per month, so it’s worth considering how this is going to fit into your budget and whether it’s going to provide the right value for your establishment.

Revel Systems

Revel Systems offer an easy to use POS system with lots of great features for managing your bar, with custom-made POS hardware and an interactive user interface.

Revel is known for its robust reporting features which help to make things much easier for your back-office staff, as well as a powerful CRM to help you understand customers’ favorite menu items and set up loyalty programs too.

Another great feature of Revel is that the system continues to work even if you happen to lose your internet connection.

Unfortunately, Revel does not publicly advertise its pricing structure and it is generally thought of as one of the more expensive POS systems on the market, especially when you consider that you usually have to buy a lot of their own hardware for it to be compatible with their system.

Harbortouch

Harbortouch is one of the best value POS systems around for bars, with its module-based easy to use software, which is all based on the cloud.

They’ve also got an excellent customer service department which is available 24/7, which is especially useful for a bar business.

However, one of the best things about Harbortouch is that it’s one of the most affordable POS systems on the market, with their Echo package starting at just $39 and the Elite package at $69.

For such a reliable POS system, it provides great value, with no upfront costs for the hardware either, although you will be tied into a minimum three-year contract with a hefty termination fee!

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