iPad POS for Restaurants: Pros and Cons

iPad POS is steadily gaining popularity. Demand for iPad POS solutions from all over the retail and hospitality spectrum has driven the creation of many new iPad POS start-up companies as well as major investments in iPad POS technology from more established POS providers. Walking around the National Restaurant Show this May, our team saw iPads in almost every booth. So is iPad POS the right answer for your restaurant? We’ve compiled a list of 5 advantages of an iPad POS system as well as 3 disadvantages of iPad POS when compared to alternatives.

5 Advantages of iPad POS

1. iPad POS is flexible and portable

iPad POS offers the ability to quickly turn a fixed POS station into a mobile order taking tool, a digital wine list, a customer facing Kiosk tool, or a customer display screen.  

In a quick service environment, cashiers ringing in an order can easily flip iPad POS stations around to show the customer their order and total, have the customer enter data (for example to enroll in a customer loyalty program) or show customers a list of ingredients.  They can detach the iPad from its case and walk around with it, using it for line busting, and the same iPad that is usually used as a cashier station can also house a customer facing app and be set up as a kiosk station during a lunch rush.

In a full service restaurant, waiters can use an iPad as a fixed station or a mobile order taking tool; sending orders to the kitchen or bar directly from tableside. This will especially benefit restaurants that use runners to deliver food and drinks. At Tap and Tankard, in Whitby, Ontario, Manager, James Hobbs, reports that when servers use an iPad to enter orders at tableside, “Sometimes a runner would bring customers their drink order while the waitress was still talking to them.” This has a major effect on speeding table turns, increasing customer satisfaction, and increasing average checks (since there is more time to get in a second round of drinks.)

Full service restaurants can also take advantage of a kiosk app by handing over iPads to allow guests to browse a digital menu or wine list. Some restaurants even place iPads with customer self- ordering apps on every table.

In short iPad POS offers mobility and flexibility. A single iPad POS station is a multi-purpose tool that easily switches modes from a traditional fixed station, to a tableside ordering solution, to a customer facing technology.

2. iPad POS is easy to fix and replace

Another advantage of iPad POS is that, in a pinch, restaurateurs can run to an Apple store to have a broken screen replaced or to purchase a new device if needed. Getting a damaged station up and running fast can prevent huge losses going into a busy Friday night so the peace of mind that comes from knowing a replacement is just a few minutes away can be well worth the investment in an iPad POS solution.

Another advantage of the availability of iPads is that the cost of iPad POS equipment is transparent. It’s easy to estimate the hardware costs associated with an iPad POS system. This may not be true for a system that uses less accessible hardware.

3. The iPad is familiar to servers and customers

Yet another benefit of the familiar iPad is that restaurant employees are comfortable using this technology. Removing discomfort and unfamiliarity brings down learning barriers and makes training faster and easier. When you flip iPads around to use them as kiosk stations, the same holds true for customers. Your restaurant patrons are already comfortable with the iPad, which makes them more receptive to using this technology.

4. iPad POS is attractive

Ambience shouldn’t be discounted. The way your restaurant looks matters to your customers and iPads are sleek, attractive, replacements for older hardware models. The use of iPad POS gives your restaurant or bar a modern, high tech vibe that, depending on your layout, can be easily perceived by customers.

5. iPads POS doesn’t take up much space

In high rent areas where every square foot is precious, small, sleek iPad POS stations save much needed space as compared to a traditional fixed station.

3 Disadvantages of iPad POS compared to other options

1. iPad POS durability compared to traditional fixed stations

While iPads are rugged and available peripherals such as cases and stands can add to their durability, they are not specially designed to withstand the heavy beating a restaurant environment can deal out the way traditional terminals are.  If you’ve seen the Posiflex fire and rain video, for example, you have to wonder what would happen if someone did that to an iPad.

2. iPad POS portability compared to the iPod Touch

While many restaurants use iPad POS as a mobility solution, compared to a handheld device like the iPod Touch, iPad POS can be a cumbersome tableside ordering tool. An iPod can fit easily into a server’s apron, so it’s not left sitting around where it can be damaged or lost for example. For a more in depth look at the advantages of the iPod for tableside ordering check out our blog post on mobile point of sale hardware options.

3. iPad POS cost compared to other tablets

Some tablet POS solutions limit you only to the iPad, but hardware agnostic restaurant POS systems, like the Restaurant Manager POS system, can run on any tablet.  Windows and Android tablets offer many of the same advantages of iPad POS at a lower price point.

Still wondering if iPad POS is the right choice for your restaurant? Contact a Restaurant Manager restaurant profitability specialist for a free individual consultation.

Author: Remigijus Pavydis