With restaurant industry sales projected to hit $683 billion this year and employees in the restaurant industry approaching 10.5 million, many restaurants are investing in point-of-sale software, whether for the first time or to upgrade existing systems.
There is a correlation between restaurant size and integration needs, as larger establishments prefer software with more bells and whistles. When restaurant operators seek to upgrade to sleeker point-of-sale software, they often want to track three performance indicators: inventory, sales, and employees.
On the other hand, nearly half of POS buyers are first-time consumers, and have three primary reasons for shopping software: better organization, increased efficiency, and opening a new business or location.
These are the key findings from Software Advice's 2014 Restaurant POS Software BuyerView report, released last month. Software Advice, a free research and consulting company for software buyers, gathered data from 385 restaurants that had recently contacted the company to analyze their software needs.
"Even restaurants in the smallest size bracket are looking for software to give them a competitive advantage," says Craig Borowski, researcher at Software Advice. “I think many, especially smaller, restaurants are surprised to learn how much financial insight and operational organization the right software can provide, all without increasing the staff's workload."
Of the prospective POS buyers in the industry, Software Advice found 55 percent do not use any restaurant management or POS system yet, and 86 percent of those who contacted the company for recommendations needed software at just one location; 45 percent of buyers, meanwhile, were unsatisfied with their existing restaurant software and sought to replace it. They typically have two options in the POS sphere: best of breed or integrated suite.
Best-of-breed products conduct a specific task, such as sales reporting, while integrated suites handle a myriad of tasks including credit card processing, employee clocking, payroll and accounting integration, sales tracking, receipt printing, and loyalty programs.
Thirty-nine percent of restaurants exploring software seek best-of-breed products, and most in this category have an average of 10 employees. At the 61 percent of restaurants considering integrated-suite POS systems, the average number of employees is 16. While this signals that smaller restaurant operations want simpler software, it also represents an increased interest in upgrading technology in restaurants overall.
"Advanced restaurant software used to be just for medium and large establishments, but we've seen the prices come down a lot, and the software has advanced a lot, so it has much more to offer," Borowski says. "It's also gotten much easier to use. All of these factors have made it an attractive proposition, so many small restaurants are turning to software, some for the first time."
Software Advice notes that tablet compatibility is the fourth most requested feature in POS software, but it is rarely singled out as a mandatory requirement. Borowski adds that it appears restaurateurs are still unclear about how to best introduce tablets into their business.
By Sonya Chudgar