Chain restaurants in the U.S. are a  $125 billion market. That figure is expected to grow nearly 20% in 2021. As a result, there’s a growing need in the industry  for POS software development, integration, and configuration services. 

However, Capterra’s long list of ready-made POS systems for restaurants may raise a question: why would you need to create a tailor made Point of Sale system?

Here are a few reasons you may want to create a custom POS system: 

  • Provides your team with only necessary concept-specific features, [no cluttering screen with default unused ones]
  • Seamless integrations with other proprietary custom restaurant management software solutions;
  • An opportunity to experiment with analytics and new features to gain competitive advantage irrespective of vendor’s vision.

In this article we are going to answer a few debatable questions for restaurant chain business owners and franchise chain entrepreneurs:

  • Why choose a custom POS for a restaurant chain instead of a third-party vendor? 
  • What functionalities do customers and servers expect from restaurant management software?
  • How do you build a POS for a bar or cafe?
  • How do you choose a POS software development company?

Why are we in position to expertly speak on the topic? DevPro has profound experience in digital commerce, that services hospitality, travel, retail and entertainment industries with Lavu customizable POS as one of the clients.

Pros and Cons of Custom Point of Sale Systems in the Food Service Industry

Many big restaurant chains will use vendor software that is fully customized to their needs, menus, and operational set up. McDonalds uses MW Neo, while Starbucks uses Oracle’s Symphony. However, some titans of the franchise universe, like Subway, prefer to create a POS system from scratch that’s tailored to their needs. 

Before we provide you with an outline for how to build a restaurant POS system, let’s consider the pros and cons of a custom-made solution.

Pros of developing a custom POS for eateries and cafes:

  • A perfect match for your company’s needs
  • Flexibility to upgrade or update at any time
  • Reduce training time and increase speed of services 

Cons of designing tailor-made restaurant software:

  • Higher upfront cost
  • Significant time for development

How to Create a POS for Restaurants and Cafes: High Level Blueprint

Step 1. Research The Market

Properly done research can help create a sustainable decision that keeps stakeholders satisfied for decades. Make sure to answer these questions:

  1. What software solutions are used by: your top competitors, food outlets with similar concepts locally and globally, and restaurant chains in your area?
  2. What are examples of successful development and implementation of custom POS systems and what went right for them?
  3. What modules would you need in your system architecture and which functionalities would you like to see in each of the modules?
  4. What integration would you need in place to ensure two-way data synchronization?
  5. Which POS software development companies can help you with your project?
  6. Have you completed a SWOT analysis for custom and ready-made Point of Sales solutions integration? These can help you gauge ROI and potential pitfalls of both options.
  7. Have you compared pricing and project timelines for each scenario based on your market research?

To facilitate your research it’s good to be armed with understanding of the full menu of the POS services.

Figure 1. End-to-end POS Services

Step 2. Decide on the Type of Your Custom POS

There are several types of POS systems on the market, each with their own features and functionalities. Here’s a short overview of the types:

Deployment: Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise Deployment

Cloud technology has made SaaS solutions affordable and widespread. Today, even the smallest players can access sophisticated tools and applications for a reasonable monthly payment. Still, on-premise deployment is sometimes preferable in locations with  poor or unstable internet coverage.

By Format: Mobile POS vs. Desktop POS, vs Self-Service Kiosk

Mobile & Terminal POS are also cloud-based  and designed for on-the-floor operations. These systems help facilitate table service and payment operations and are useful for larger eateries and bars with high turnover. 

Desktop POS and self-service kiosks usually have a touchscreen for quick order entry. Self-service kiosks  don’t usually offer access to admin features.

Restaurant chains often have large amounts of floorspace, so a healthy mix of different POS types may be the right way to go. A common example of this is McDonalds: the chain uses stationary desktop POS with a touch screen, as well as mobile and self-services machines.

Auxiliary POS equipment

You may want to consider peripheral POS equipment,including cash drawers, barcode scanners, touch screen displays, card readers, receipt printers, and kitchen displays.

Step 3. Plan the Architecture of Needed Functionalities

Before you start with the task we recommend you revisit  your business priorities and  crystalize your company’s  selling propositions. 

If speed of service is your main focus, a good UX and intuitive interface should be top of mind. If your franchise restaurant concept is popular in rural areas, you may want to consider an on-the-premise version for areas with poor connectivity. If you operate bars or clubs, you may want to focus on tools that  facilitate quick order taking, including buttons for one-click add-ons, [like olive, dry, virgin, on the rocks, double, extra syrup, etc.]. 

There are a few ways to beat the competition in the food service industry: by better price, assortment, service, speed, concept. Decide on your competitive advantage and design a POS system that will help you reinforce this forte.

Features and Functionalities of POS Systems:

Inventory management and control

  • Barcode scanning
  • Product categorization
  • Ecommerce integration
  • Stock management and alerts

Payment management & Accounting

  • Cash management
  • PCI compliant
  • Receipt module
  • Card payment integration
  • Commission management
  • Discount management
  • Separate check
  • Split checks
  • Tip management
  • Returns and refund management

Reporting / Analytics

  • Demand forecasting
  • Sales reports
  • Export to different file formats
  • Accounting system integration
  • Tax and VAT reporting

Employee management

  • User accounts and login management
  • Access / Control permissions
  • Timesheets & roaster management
  • Training mode

Customer Management

  • Customer profile and history
  • Gift Card Management
  • Dietary and nutrition preferences management
  • Loyalty program management

Restaurant POS

  • Table Management
  • Delivery management 
  • Handheld ordering
  • Online Ordering
  • Reservations management
  • Wait list management
  • Kitchen / Menu management
  • Menu planning
  • Mobile Access
  • Multi-location

When it comes to architecture design of Point of Sales systems for your Restaurant chain, this infographics will help you answer the question ‘What are the components to build a POS system?’

Figure 2. POS Architecture Overview 
Source: MW Neo POS architecture

Step 4. Outline Your Technical Requirements in Detail

When considering the  technical specifications for your POS system, be as specific as possible. These specifications can later become the core of your contract too, so it helps to be as specific as possible.

We recommend they include as a minimum:

  1. A general profile of your restaurant chain with concept details, user persona descriptions, takeout to eat-in ratio, average check, bestsellers, seasonality, and locations.
  2. A description of your current system, its predecessors, its functionalities, modules you like in it, and features you would like to add or improve.
  3. A full list of the tech stack of other restaurant management software solutions in use by your chain outlets and any wishlist add-ons you want to include in the new POS rollout. You should also include the integrations you already have in place, including which systems are synched and how, and which elements feed off of manual inputs or Google Docs.
  4. Enumeration of all modules and features you need in your Point of Sale system with detailed description of user interactions. Make sure you provide a hierarchy of the most vital functionalities and wishlist features, so you have the freedom to develop the tool quicker and later improve it in the CI/CD stage. For example, when it comes to analytics, you will want to have a daily sales report right away, while a predictive forecasting feature can wait.
  5. Preferences for the mobile / desktop / iPad formats. Also mention the web/app split of the existing and forecasted traffic.
  6. Preferences for POS peripheral hardware. 
  7. Your top three business goals that the POS needs to help you achieve.
  8. Your estimated budget and deadlines for the project.

If your company has an in-house IT department, they will know to provide a lot of the technical requirements they need, specifying details like programming languages and frameworks and cloud service provider preferences.

Step 5. Select a POS System Software Development Company

The software development vendor selection process will be defined by your internal development team, tech specs, budgets and deadlines. You may opt for an in-house team, outsourced team, distributed team, or a hybrid setup.

Regardless of the option you select, make sure that the team of choice has proven experience designing and developing POS systems for the hospitality and food industries.

How to Create a POS System 

Now that we have covered major aspects of how to make a POS system for a restaurant, let’s recap the key takeaways:

  • Remember to align your Point of Sales system’s architecture, UI, backend, and key functionalities with your business goals.
  • Involve operational, administrative, and tech team members in market research and technical requirements preparation to ensure sustainable, well-rounded results.
  • Choose your POS system development company, taking into account previous experience in the digital commerce field, cost estimates, and estimated delivery period.

If your company is considering custom POS development, or an integration or upgrade, we hope you will give the DevPro team a chance to be your vendor of choice. Provide your requirements via this form and we will respond with a full technical-commercial proposal within 24 hours.