As a restaurateur, you’ve likely come across countless mentions of cloud-based restaurant POS solutions at one point or another. You may have even thought it wasn’t the right system for you, or that your current solution works just fine, so why bother switching?
In this article, we walk you through:
- The basics of a cloud-based restaurant POS
- The key differences between a cloud-based POS and legacy POS
- The most frequently asked questions about cloud-based POS solutions
- Why a 23-location restaurant group made the move to the cloud
The beauty of the cloud-based POS format is how scalable and customizable it is—it can work for single-location full service and quick service restaurants, multi-location restaurants, and restaurant groups alike.
The Basics of a Cloud-Based Restaurant POS
There’s a reason why cloud-based POS systems are so popular. Whether you have concerns about cost, ease-of-use, or security, a cloud-based solution has the answers.
Instead of printing out lengthy reports for every shift, now you can access your insights from any smart device—such as your computer, phone, or tablet—and get updated sales, inventory, customer feedback, and more, no matter where you are.
Real-time data means real-time solutions to situations before they become problems. Just think of the time and money you’ll save by identifying issues before they blow out of proportion. Besides the massive convenience factor, a cloud-based restaurant POS can streamline how you run your business.
Cloud-Based POS vs. Legacy Systems: Key Differences
You might be thinking that your traditional POS system—also known as “legacy” or “on-premise” systems—have served you well until now, so why change?
Legacy systems only allow on-premise access to data, which means you have to be in your restaurant in order to access the information on your POS system. Like we mentioned above, cloud-based restaurant POS options can be accessed from anywhere you can use a computer or smart device, whether that’s in your living room or the other side of the world. All you need is an internet connection and a device that supports the apps and software.
While buying up all of the necessary technology to get a cloud-based POS system off the ground may seem expensive, they tend to have cheaper operating costs in the long run and some, like Upserve, offer free support 24/7/365.
Cloud-based POS systems update automatically and for free, just like the apps on your mobile device, while traditional POS systems require manual updates that can be labor intensive and costly.
This means a difference of being able to handle updates and upgrades on your own time with just a few clicks, or calling a technician to schedule an appointment and have them take care of it for you (for a fee, of course).
Will your restaurant’s POS needs stay the same over time or will they change? If you anticipate growth or change, a cloud-based POS system is better enabled to grow with you.
Whether it’s updating your menu on the regular, launching new or improved loyalty programs, or requiring more precise inventory tracking, the more your needs will shift over time, the more sense it makes to opt for cloud-based.
Most cloud-based POS systems also update with new features as technology improves across the industry—something you’re unlikely to get with a legacy POS system.
Less Frequent Downtimes
If the internet ever goes down, the system that your legacy POS relies on will be offline and non-functional. Luckily, on a cloud-based restaurant POS system you have the option of switching to offline mode as a back-up. You’ll stay up and running until the internet is able to connect again.
Setup is a Breeze
You’ll be shocked at how easy it is to set up and use your new cloud-based POS. Thanks to the cloud and its encrypted online storage, there’s no risk of hardware or software incompatibility or failure, no viruses or driver hiccups, and no risk of a hard drive accidentally deleting a weekend’s worth of sales reports. It’s all backed up, automatically.
Plus, younger generations of workers—think millennials and Gen Zs—will be able to get right on board with a cloud-based POS solution with little-to-no training.
Increased Security = Customer Peace of Mind
The benefits of a cloud-based POS aren’t limited to you and your staff. Customers will feel good knowing their credit card information is secure and encrypted with the most up-to-date technology.
No matter what type of establishment, your cloud-based POS can track every last drop of product, allowing you to spot discrepancies in an instant and fix gaps before they become problematic.
Better Insights for Faster Decision-Making
Cloud solutions facilitate faster, easier, and more extensive business insights, which can help you make strategic decisions. By connecting what’s happening in the back of the house to the front, restaurant operators get a holistic picture of how the business is running.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cloud-Based Restaurant POS Systems
How much does a cloud-based POS cost?
If you’re dedicated to sticking with an on-premise, legacy hardwired POS system, be prepared to pay more for less sophisticated resources. Hardware costs are separate from service, and maintenance and support services often come with a hefty fee.
While traditional POS systems certainly have lower start-up costs, they tend to come with plenty of hidden costs that reveal themselves over time. Because cloud-based restaurant POS systems don’t require physical server hardware on the premises, upfront costs are kept to a minimum and monthly subscription fees are lower.
Best of all, instant free upgrades mean no lost revenue from downtime or inconvenient hardware upgrades as your business grows. Instead, plans can be upgraded or downgraded at will, and most providers don’t even charge a fee for the trouble.
Do I have to start from scratch?
Cloud-based POS systems can be integrated with any number of functionalities, from digital payment and receipts to automatic discounts and updated loyalty rewards. If you have existing setups in place, many third-party vendors have upgraded apps for cloud POS systems to help you maintain your current rewards and promotions planning.
Is a cloud-based POS system worth the time and energy it takes to switch?
Restaurateurs who move to cloud-based POS systems—no matter how apprehensive at first— are almost always satisfied once they see the technology working to keep their business safer, more efficient, and more profitable. Most studies are showing that those who switched are sticking with a cloud-based solution, and that legacy POS systems will only decline moving forward.
Why a 23 Location Restaurant Group Switched from Aloha to Upserve
Old habits are hard to break. That’s why when Homegrown Hospitality Group—a 23 location restaurant group with a variety of concepts throughout the Carolinas—had to switch their POS, they made their decision deliberately. After over three decades with a legacy POS system that only slowed them down, they made the move to a cloud-based POS to bring their restaurants into the future.
“We were using Aloha for 34 years and it was painful. Aloha is not a cloud-based system. Anytime any sort of update needed to be made, the master terminal needed to be reset. In our concepts, that was very difficult,” said Colleen Simon, Chief Operating Office at Homegrown Hospitality. “Our restaurants are chef-driven, so we have specials that change every day. We need to add buttons every day. We change pricing every day. Having to stop and reset all the terminals because it’s not instantaneous was a headache.”
“It saves so much time. It’s very speedy and we’re not holding up our guests when food orders are being placed.” – Colleen Simon, COO at Homegrown Hospitality
Not only did constant resets of the system create roadblocks for the team at Homegrown Hospitality, but service was also less than stellar and cost more than what it was worth.
“The system would crash nonstop, and our partners at NCR who support Aloha weren’t as helpful as we would have liked. We went through a lot of pain—our system would crash all the time, credit cards wouldn’t spool, and data would be lost. Our IT department would spend numerous hours a week just trying to recover data,” Simon explained.
Since switching a point-of-sale is such a large investment, Simon and the team at Homegrown Hospitality knew they had to make it with the right POS company.
“Working with Aloha’s difficulties was the main reason we made the decision to switch. The software needed to be upgraded, but that hardware that we had wouldn’t support the new software, so we should have had to swap out the hardware, as well,” said Simon. “That was pretty much the breaking point: we were at the point where we needed to upgrade, but it would have cost us several hundred thousand dollars. So we decided to source something new. The functionality and capability of Upserve won us over.”