According to a survey by Telstra, 77 per cent of business operators utilise the cloud to manage their business, and increasingly restaurants are among those embracing this trend.
It's courtesy of the latest and arguably most disruptive trend in hospitality - mobile Point of Sale and here's how it's changing the restaurant scene.
The roving restaurant
For any restaurateur who has been in business for more than a decade, the past 15 years have witnessed massive change. Long gone are handwritten dockets, duplicates and tallying up bills at the end of the meal. Hospitality, like many industries, has become an automated field where orders are entered into computers, relayed to the kitchen and automatically added to the bill.
Relentlessly catering to this trend has been the computerised Point of Sale, and on its own it’s changed the industry almost beyond recognition. But now this technology has gone mobile via the use of devices like iPads to take orders, information stored on the Cloud, and payments made at the table via contactless technology.
What is mPOS?
Based on a specialised app and mobile devices including iPads, tablets and smartphones, mobile Point of Sale offers restaurants the ability to take orders table-side or input orders at a kiosk. Information is then stored and accessed from the Cloud rather than an in-house computer system.
The software usually comprises a downloaded app and a dashboard accessible via desktop for more complex tasks like inventory management and restaurant analytics. The Cloud based mobile POS market includes a host of software options specifically designed for the intricacies of restaurants with major players including TouchBistro, Toast, Lavu and Revel.
What does it offer?
Better customer service
One of the key features of Cloud based mPOS is its ability to speed up the ordering and payment process. Wait staff can take their mobile device directly to the table, inputting orders on the go, or quickly key it in at a nearby static kiosk. Information is then automatically relayed to the kitchen, bar or register.
Payments can also be taken tableside, speeding up the completion of transactions, and bills can even be split.
In takeaways, mobile POS can cut the length of the queue, with a staff member taking a POS to the consumer in line and processing their order.
Often a Cloud based mPOS system can be a more affordable option for restaurants. Purchase plans involve monthly subscriptions or contracts and the software upgrades and support are handled remotely.
Meanwhile hardware usually comprises tablets or iPads, tablet enclosures or kiosks, a cash drawer, receipt/docket printer, and internet connection with wireless networking.
With data backed up to the Cloud, the system can be accessed from anywhere at any time. That means a manager or owner can quickly log in from home or holiday to understand exactly how a restaurant is operating. Data is stored and accessible in real time, making takings, inventory and even staffing information readily available.
All this information feeds into a host of vital analytics for the business operator including a wealth of data on busy periods, customer spend, and the success of promotions. This allows for the smoother operation of the business and the honing of required inventory.
The best mobile POS systems interlink with stock at hand, prompting the re-order of ingredients, and many even include staff handling software for rostering, and customer relationship management for email campaigns and promotions.
A host of integrated software options also tend to be readily available so your mPOS software will play nicely with accounting apps like QuickBooks or MYOB, staffing apps like Deputy and email marketing programs such as MailChimp.
But it's not just during face to face customer service that mobile Point of Sale offers valuable assistance. Behind the scenes the technology gathers a wealth of insight into customer relations including information, loyalty, and habits. This provides restaurateurs the ability to better hone their marketing, rewards programs and promotions.
What to look for
Not all mPOS software is created equal and some are better suited to hospitality applications than others.
Meanwhile there are also practical things to take into account. Not least of which is a Cloud based system's reliance on the internet. A number of providers offer "hybrid" options were data is also stored locally allowing the restaurant to continue operating even during an internet outage.
Other factors to consider include:
- Industry specific features like tableside ordering, split billing, bookings management.
- Number of users permitted
- Individual staff logins
- Staff management including rostering and overtime
- Inventory management and automatic alerts when items are running low.
- Customer relationship management features
- Analytics including the types of reports and information you wish to have at hand
- Gift card and rewards capability
- Further software integrations like accounting, rostering and marketing
The final word
A well-designed Cloud based mobile Point of Sale has the ability to make life simpler for restaurant customers, staff and management alike. But like all software for business, each enterprise operator needs to ensure any system they select meets the needs of their operation.