Which point of sale solution is best for your café?

Feb 24, 2022 8 min read

There are so many considerations and decisions to be made when getting your coffee shop or small cafe business up and running. You want to ensure you attract customers with the right products and the best service, but ultimately, you want your small business to be profitable. This means it's crucial to think about how you will take cash, card and even mobile payments. 

Not all point of sale solutions are created equal. There's a whole myriad of POS (or EPOS) systems out there, all offering different benefits. Knowing where to start when choosing the right POS for your cafe can be confusing. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself and the POS providers when selecting the best point of sale for your coffee shop.

How do you want your customers to order, and how will you take their payments?

One of the first questions to ask yourself is how you will run your cafe operationally. Will you be taking cash and card payments at a till? Will you offer table service and need a portable PDQ to bring to customers for card payments? Will you have QR codes to enable mobile Order & Pay so customers can order and pay from their phones? What about a combination? 

Choosing a POS solution that will help you maximise all sales channels without adding complications is the way to go. Think about future-proofing your cafe business too. Even if you don't launch with it, it's worth exploring POS options that can integrate with delivery aggregators like Uber Eats or make it possible for you to compete with the global chains by offering click and collect (pickup).

What does the point of sale software do, and how easy is the POS to use?

Having to faff around updating menu items or finding the right buttons costs time and money. Make sure your POS provider can give you an in-depth demo, and better still, have a team of people who can help you as and when you need it. 

More than just a card reader and basic till software, a mobile-first modern POS platform will be your best friend when starting and running your cafe. Think about the user experience for your coffee shop team and your customers. Is it easy to navigate the till system? Can you easily update the back-end software to add new specials and menu items? Is it intuitive so a new team member can be up and running with minimal training? Does it make it easy to review analytics and reporting for seamless order management? If you want your customers to order and pay themselves, is the mobile Order & Pay solution quick to access? Can customers order and pay in just a few clicks without having to spend time faffing around filling in personal information? An easy-to-use POS solution makes life easier for you, your team and your customers. 

Does the POS come with additional benefits you actually need?

Too many features are actually a hindrance. It can make your POS overcomplicated, slow down the speed and often leaves you paying for "benefits" you don't need.Here are some key features you should consider for your coffee shop:

  • The ability to take cash and card payments at a till.

  • The ability to offer your costumes the option to order and pay themselves to speed up table service.

  • A way to set up click and collect to compete with the big chains.

  • A dashboard to view key trading information and analytics to make informed business decisions.

  • Tools to be able to run promotions and offer vouchers for customer loyalty. 

  • Printer integration for printing tickets for your food and beverage prep team and providing customer receipts. 

What equipment do I need? What hardware should I be choosing for my business?

You'll have seen the adverts where you can take payments with nothing more than a mobile phone and a card reader - but this isn't enough for a coffee shop. If you're serious about maximising your sales, you need to take a good look at your till system requirements. Think about the vital operational features you require, how much space you have, and of course, the cost of hardware. For a small hospitality business such as a coffee shop, the most common modern solution is an iPad to run your POS software, a card reader, a small printer for receipts and a cash drawer.

How much support will I get with setting up and managing my POS solution?

When choosing your software, ask: how easy it will be to set up, what does the day to day management look like, and crucially what support will you get? You'll be too busy running your business to have to spend time setting up your POS and troubleshooting any issues yourself. A good POS partner will be on hand to help set up your system, ensure you're comfortable with how to use it and make the most of the features, and, crucially, be available to you around the clock to offer help, advice and support. To avoid any costly mistakes, you need reassurance that you can reach a real-life human super quickly, who can help you then and there if you have any issues.

How should I use the features of my POS system to maximise sales at my coffee shop?

You need to ensure your POS is designed to suit the needs of the type of business you run. You need a point of sale solution built for hospitality for a coffee shop or small cafe business. Features to look out for which will specifically help a coffee shop are:

Mobile Order & Pay - Even if most of your service will be customers paying at the till having an Order & Pay solution can really help increase spend per head.  How? Well, take this example. You have a customer come to your coffee shop for a change of scene from working from home. They come to your counter, order coffee and a cake and take it to their table. Half an hour later, they're still working away with their laptop, mobile phone and work papers on the table. They want another cup to keep them going but don't want to leave their seat to return to the bar as they can't leave their valuable items. By making it easy for them to place an order on their phone by simply scanning a QR code to access a digital menu, they'll buy that all-important second (or third!) cup of coffee, increasing your average transaction value and stopping people from having a high dwell time with no purchase. 

Vouchers and Promotions - Encourage repeat customers and drive loyalty by offering your customers incentives. A good modern POS solution will make it simple for you to set up and manage promotions in the back-end. 

Click and Collect - Compete with the big red and green coffee shop brands (you know who we mean!) by being able to offer customers a pickup service. Great for coffee shops in commuter towns, located by train and bus stations, give customers the option to order ahead via a digital menu tailored to your brand, and have their drink and food waiting for them on arrival. 

How long will I be tied to a contract with my POS provider? 

This one's vital. There is no need to get tied into a long-term contract! You might choose a payment solution that looks great at first and has low transaction rates but soon turns out to be unreliable, lacking in support and comes with some hidden additional fees. At which point, you're going to regret signing up for a long term contract! The best providers won't need to tie you in to keep your business. These POS providers will offer flexible contracts to get started immediately without any risk. 

Are there any hidden charges? 

Always check the small print. Whilst many POS and payment solutions will sign you up based on their headline transaction fees; many will have some unexpected costs built-in. Like paying more for support or a fee for delivery aggregator integration.

Several things to look out for when choosing your POS solution: 

  • Are there any minimum sales volumes required to hit the lowest transaction rates? 

  • Are there higher charges on some cards, such as American Express?

  • Will you get charged extra for customer support?

  • Do all the software features come included without additional fees?

  • Is mobile Order & Pay included, and at the same transaction rates?

In summary, here are the key points you will want to make sure you have covered when choosing a point of sale solution for your coffee shop or cafe.   

  • Your POS allows you to take cash, card, mobile and online payments.

  • Your POS allows you to maximise revenue through in-person ordering, delivery, pickup and delivery aggregators such as Uber Eats.

  • Your POS provides you with insights and data.

  • Your POS has features such as vouchering to increase sales and drive loyalty.

  • Your POS is simple to use and backed with a support team to assist you round the clock.

  • Your POS has no long-term contracts, additional costs or hidden fees for features and services.

"After we began using Onvi for our table ordering app we decided to move on to the POS after numerous technical and support issues with our previous POS provider. It's been a breath of fresh air! We've had on-site assistance in setting the system up, the software is straightforward and user friendly and the analytics provide all the vital sales information needed for an emerging food business." Kevin White, Owner, Moreish

Find out how Onvi can help your business
Reach out to the team now