Virtually all restaurants use some type of point-of-sale (POS) system. Many systems are commercially available, but restaurant owners can also build their own POS apps for mobile devices.
The initial cost of developing an app is often offset by their long-term advantages over legacy systems like Aloha. Long terms benefits of POS apps for mobile devices include:
- direct cost savings
- greater security
- improved customer support
A custom POS app can incorporate the latest innovations in software technology, whereas legacy apps are primarily technology vendors.
Developing a new app allows you to invest in new technologies, features and security measures, while legacy POS systems primarily invest in services such as support contracts and upgrades. These services typically account for the majority of the cost of using a legacy system.
Although there is an upfront cost associated with custom apps, you actually own it once it’s developed. Legacy systems usually have an initial cost as well as a subscription fee that can cause the total cost of ownership for a commercial POS system to exceed the development cost of a custom app.
Developing an app specifically for the Android mobile operating system (OS) is less expensive than porting it over from another OS since Android has an open source.
Furthermore, a legacy POS system’s functionality doesn’t increase over time unless you pay for an upgrade, which may not provide any benefits for your business. You only pay for the features you need when you develop a custom app, allowing it to contribute to both the short and long-term financial success of your business.
Restaurants can vary greatly in their method of operation, from dedicated food service to businesses that provide other services such as cafes and nightclubs. This variety means that there is no single POS app that can meet the needs of every restaurant, which makes customization especially beneficial for these businesses.
Restaurants often require unique setups for their POS systems due to the range of possible hardware, menu configuration, and workflows. The increasing need to make changes in a POS system quickly also means that it’s more likely to be hosted on a cloud platform rather than a web browser’s backend. The right permissions on a cloud account allow you to manage your restaurant at any time and from any location so long as you have internet access.
Additionally, a cloud platform eliminates the need to update the POS system for each device individually. Changes to the system can be synchronized across multiple devices automatically, without the need for downtime that legacy systems typically require for updates.
The customizations needed in restaurant POS apps also include changes made by staff members, including…
- changes in the specials
- changes in item availability
- end-of-day closeout
- item modifiers
Customized apps can improve communications between the front and back-of-house operations by sending orders directly to the kitchen display while providing the appropriate notifications to the servers. This capability can lead to a one-house system, which is still quite rare for restaurants.
Additional customizations for POS apps include the ability for staff members and managers to provide guest experiences and other comments on individual orders.
The primary security concern for POS systems is that they collect payment card information, so they need to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations. A PCI-compliant POS app is therefore essential for protecting the personal information of guests.
Legacy systems that reside on a desktop fall out of PCI compliance periodically due regulatory changes, and the time needed to update these systems can be substantial due to their large size. These are also more vulnerable to malware, storage limitations and frequently send unencrypted credit card data to a local server.
Custom POS apps can encrypt sensitive data before transmitting it over a secure network and storing the data on a cloud-based server, thus avoiding the risk of an on-site data breach without sacrificing convenience.
Blind closeouts are another security feature that you can obtain with a custom POS app, which requires employees to reconcile cash at the end of their shift without knowing the amount they should have.
A cloud-based approach also makes it easier to integrate a POS app with other systems such as online ordering, gift cards, and customer loyalty programs.
Legacy POS apps typically lock you into their customer support system with contracts that are difficult to break. These contracts make it hard to switch apps because you don’t want to lose the money you’ve already spent on support, even if you’re not in love with the system.
On the other hand, a custom app makes technical support easier because the same team that developed the app often provides the support, including installation and services.