pexels pixabay 63633 min

4 Best POS Systems For Bars - an In-depth Comparison By a Pro

Conal Yarwood-Frost
1 Nov 2022

Bars are the often overlooked workhorses of the hospitality industry. Bars serve a unique purpose in the industry, and so have a unique set of needs. The job of a bar manager is difficult and anything that makes this job easier is an unequivocal good. POS systems for bars can go a long way to achieving this.

The difficulty of finding a good bar POS system comes from a few different factors. POS systems for bars need to be able to track inventory down to the last drop, track and analyze sales, manage staff members, and take various payment methods quickly and reliably.

You need to be more familiar with the multitude of POS companies out there and the systems for bars they provide to choose the right system for your business. Bar and restaurant owners have enough on their plate to without having to trawl through review websites to look for a new POS system that works for them.

In this blog, we'll compare some of the biggest POS companies on the market to see who offers the best pos systems for bars. As we mentioned above, the best bar pos systems need to be feature rich and affordable. With this blog, we hope to provide bar and restaurant owners with the knowledge they need to choose the right POS system that meets their needs.

What are POS systems?

A point of sale (POS) system combines hardware and software that bar owners can use to operate their businesses. POS systems are sophisticated pieces of technology that can completely change the way a business works. These systems can analyze sales data, produce informative business reports, and allow businesses to improve customer satisfaction. Some POS systems can also function as payment processing services for their users.

POS technology has rapidly evolved over the last two decades to add more advanced features and accessories. The average POS terminal is sleeker and faster, an increasing number of integrations have allowed businesses to customize their systems, and cloud-based software. The hardware has evolved to include palm-sized mobile POS systems like the Epos Now Pro and Pro+.

Why do I need a bar POS system?

Bars have many unique needs that can be better met with a multi-feature POS system. In-person transactions, integrations with third party delivery apps, customer loyalty programs, employee management features, and inventory tracking tools are all available with bar POS systems. These features can have a huge effect on how a business operates.

A great example of this can be seen with business admin. In most businesses, admin is a tedious and unwelcome part of operations. Bar POS systems like the Epos Now Complete Solution have features designed specifically to automate most admin tasks. This frees up hours for business owners and staff members alike. Bar owners can then invest this extra free time back into the business and into maximizing customer satisfaction.

POS systems for bars also bring a level of simplicity to an otherwise busy and (sometimes) chaotic industry. The best bar POS systems can integrate with a variety of apps that can handle everything from inventory management to online ordering. These applications take the pressure off you and your bar staff and give you the tools you need to do your jobs more effectively. When you're in the middle of a happy hour rush, your bar POS system should be working with you rather than against you.

Sign up to our newsletter

By submitting your details you agree to our terms and conditions & privacy policy.

What are the best bar POS systems?

As we mentioned above, a truly great bar POS system needs to handle many different functions while still being quick to learn and easy to use. Choosing the right POS provider can be difficult if you're unfamiliar with the systems and their pros and cons. Modern POS systems are complicated pieces of equipment, so picking the right one takes a little knowledge.

To help you choose a bar POS system that works for you, we've compiled a list of the most relevant POS providers on the market. We've evaluated their strengths and weaknesses. With this list, you'll be able to rest assured knowing that you've made an informed decision when selecting your bar POS system.

Epos Now

Epos Now has been providing POS systems for the retail and hospitality industries since 2011. Jacyn Heavens, Epos Now's founder and current CEO, founded the business to provide cheap and effective POS systems to small and mid-sized businesses. With over a decade of experience under its belt, Epos Now has become an international leader in the POS industry.

While other POS systems lock their users into specific ways of doing things, Epos Now offers flexibility. This flexibility is suffused throughout their entire range of software and hardware. Their users can choose software and hardware that works for them thanks to Epos Now's abundance of packages.

A good example of Epos Now's flexibility would be its series of sector-specific configurations. On top of their main Hospitality package, Epos Now customers can use dedicated POS software modules to align their system to their specific sector. This means that a bar POS system will have features that serve the exact needs of a bar.

As a customer-centric business, Epos Now offers free 24/7 support. This support starts on your installation day when an Epos Now representative will walk you through your setup and system configuration. This support is available throughout your entire time with Epos Now and is completely free whether you have a simple question or are having trouble with an integration.

There are several different way you can get support as an Epos Now customer. We've already mentioned the free 24/7 hotline but several other methods exist. On the Epos Now website, a chat service is available that puts you in direct contact with a support agent. With the chat feature, you'll benefit from our support agents' know-how without having to speak to anyone on the phone.

If you have a more in-depth suggestion for the Epos Now POS systems, their customers can join the Epos Now Community. This forum is regularly checked by Epos Now developers and is the best place for customers with prior POS knowledge to help develop the system. To join the Epos Now Community, all you have to do is request access. Once, you're approved, you'll receive an email notification and be able to start posting immediately.

POS software

Epos Now's focus on flexibility extends into its POS software. Epos Now operates over Windows, IOS, and Android operating systems. As long as you have POS hardware compatible with Epos Now software, you'll be able to run your bar POS system no matter the operating system. If you're tied to your old hardware or just want a POS software package, you'll be able to keep it while still using Epos Now.

As with most POS providers, Epos Now software is cloud-based. In layman's terms, this means that all of your data processed through Epos Now is stored in off-site servers. By storing your information off-site, Epos Now can keep it safe by imposing an extra level of security on it. It's very important to keep your data safe from accidental damage (such as extreme weather, employee theft poor storage) and hackers. Storing your data off-site also has the added benefit of freeing up physical space in your bar that servers would have otherwise taken up.

Thanks to Epos Now's sector-specific software modules, their systems are perfectly placed to serve the unique needs of a bar. With their specialized bar POS software, their bar system can offer a collection of very useful features. These features include inventory tracking tools that let bartenders know when bottles are empty, happy hour discounts at the touch of a button, online ordering, and the ability to easily manage bar tabs.

With an Epos Now bar POS system, you can also set up editable digital menu boards, online ordering, and quickly process payments. Epos Now also has a number of loyalty programs available to help with customer relationship management.

POS hardware

 

Bars can be rowdy places with busy counters awash with spilled drinks. Any bar POS system worth its salt needs to be able to withstand whatever's thrown at it. Epos Now bar POS systems are built to last.

The Epos Now bar POS system comes with several pieces of sturdy POS equipment for $0 upfront (a small monthly subscription fee is needed for continued service.) This essentially means that Epos Now offers a free POS system until the monthly subscription kicks in. For small and mid-sized businesses, free POS systems can be the difference between success and failure.

The bar solution includes a waterproof POS terminal with an intuitive touchscreen, a receipt printer, a card machine, and solid cash drawer. Each piece of hardware is built to withstand the hustle and bustle of the average bar at happy hour.

Other accessories such as employee login cards, barcode scanners, and more are also available for an additional cost. Each accessory is designed to integrate seamlessly into your existing system. With each piece of hardware working in perfect harmony, you can build systems that meet the unique needs of your bar.

If your bar is successful, you may decide to open multiple locations. Just as you can integrate accessories, you can also add multiple systems to serve all your businesses. These systems communicate and compile the data from your multiple locations so that you can track inventory, use employee management tools, and share pieces of hardware should you need to. Epos Now customers with multiple systems also receive a monthly discounted subscription fee.

Payment processing

 

Unlike other providers, Epos Now offers a payment processing service. Epos Now Payments is a fast and simple way to process payments. Epos Now Payments works with all payment methods including all major credit and debit cards, online payments, contactless payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay. Epos Now Payments is available to businesses without signing a long-term contract and all payments are processed at one flat rate. This flat rate means Epos Now customers will never be struck with unexpected fees.

Using Epos Now Payments isn't the only payment processing option for Epos Now customers. In order to give their customers complete control over their finances, Epos Now has fostered relationships with all of the major payment processors. These relationships mean Epos Now customers have the option to choose their own favored payment processing service and negotiate their own fees.

Integrations

 

You can often judge how useful a bar POS system is by the quality of its app store. Integrating apps into systems is one of the main benefits of using point of sale POS. Epos Now takes great pride in its AppStore and keeps it stocked with hundreds of award-winning integrations. Bar POS systems in particular can take advantage of the benefits these apps can bring.

The main objective of a bar POS system should be to make things easier for bar owners and their staff. Epos Now bar POS software has software to a variety of time-saving applications that can improve your processes.

These include apps like QuickBooks and Xero. These accountancy apps automatically interpret your financial information, do your taxes, and cover your day-to-day expenses. This saves bar owners hours of time per month and gives them more time to spend optimizing their businesses

Hospitality businesses like bars have many unique needs such as online ordering, inventory management, and menu management. There are many different apps in the Epos Now AppStore that can take care of these needs for you. For example, Epos Now Order & Pay allows bars to set up digital menus and, using online ordering, order their drinks and food straight from the table. by ordering at the table, you free up space at the bar and get orders faster.

Toast POS

Toast, inc is a Massachusettes-based POS company that was founded by three app designers in 2012. In April 2020, the company laid off 50% of its workforce before going public in November 2020.

Toast's main focus is on restaurant POS. While this singular focus may be attractive to some, bar owners looking for a specialized bar POS system will have to look elsewhere. Toast's system is perfectly capable of running a bar, by may struggle with non-restaurant tasks and functions.

In terms of support options, Toast lists a contact number on their website. Unlike Epos Now and Lightspeed, there is no live chat option. The out-of-office time for their contact number is also not listed. From their website, it is unclear if there is a support email address available.

POS software

 

As with Epos Now, the Toast POS system operates on a cloud-based system. While cloud-based systems come with a raft of benefits, Toast offers its restaurant POS with several bundles. While these bundles give the illusion of choice for Toast's customers, several features are paywalled behind the more expensive bundles. Epos Now's free plan comes with a small subscription fee per month with all features available from the jump.

POS features offered by Toast include bar tab management and inventory management. While managing bar tabs is essential for small bars, other POS features such as employee management are locked behind a paywall.

POS hardware

 

Toast offers a basic POS hardware starter kit with an upfront cost of $589 followed by a subscription fee of $80 per month. This starter kit features a touchscreen cash register, an internet router, and a contactless credit card machine. Other basics, such as a receipt printer or cash drawer are available for an additional fee. For the price point, this starter kit is quite expensive and might be out of the financial reach of small bars.

All of Toast's hardware works on the Android operating system. While Android is a popular operating system, bar owners that prefer Apple or Windows are out of luck. Toast themselves say that while their customers can use their own hardware to run Toast POS, they cannot support non-Toast products.

Payment processing

 

As part of their service, Toast offers an in-built payment processing service. An in-built payment processor can be useful for small bars that don't have the time or knowledge to negotiate their own processing plans. Unlike Epos Now, which charges one flat rate for credit card processing, Toast creates a custom rate for your business. This means that your rate could potentially change depending per month on your sales. While they guarantee no hidden fees, a changing payment processing rate can be problematic.

Integrations

 

As we mentioned above, apps and integrations are an integral part of a bar POS system. While Toast says that its POS system has many different integrations. None of them are listed on their website.

This ambiguity is a major downside of Toast. There is quite a bit of information on their website but to get solid answers, one must book a demo. This can be a real roadblock for bar owners who don't have the time for a demo.

Complete Solution Hero Right Hospitality Pound v4

Gain all the advantages of a POS system with detailed, flexible, downloadable reports, and so much more:

  • Manage and update products quickly with easy-to-use software
  • Expand your business into multiple channels and integrate with a variety of online platforms
  • Manage multiple locations and salespoints with multi-site management
  • Keep queues short with streamlined, modifiable sales processes
  • Choose a setup that suits you with software and hardware options

Software      Hardware

Lightspeed POS

Founded in 2015, Lightspeed has quickly established itself as one of the largest POS companies around. Lightspeed currently operates internationally and is based in Montreal, Canada. Originally focused on the retail sector, Lightspeed has since expanded its services.

Lightspeed currently offers POS systems for retail, hospitality (which it called "restaurants"), and golf businesses. Much like Epos Now, Lightspeed offers a specialized bar POS system with many of the same POS features.

If you need to contact Lightspeed, they list a contact number and several email addresses on their website. There is also a live chat function available. If there are no live chatters available, however, the chat is automated. This means you can get sucked into a frustrating loop of conversation until it eventually advises you to check their FAQs.

POS software

 

As with many POS systems, Lightspeed is cloud-based. As we've mentioned above, cloud-based systems have several pros and cons. While a cloud-based bar POS system keeps your information safe, it does mean that you don't have final control over how your data is stored.

Much like Toast, Lightspeed's software is priced in tiers. This means that if you want the basic package, you'll miss out on some of the more advanced features. This is in contrast to the Epos Now bar POS system, where all the software (excluding some apps) is available for free out of the box.

With the basic package, bar owners do not have access to advanced inventory tracking and inventory management, table management, bar tabs, employee management, and the ability to order anywhere but the bar. Some of these features are integral to proper bar management; most businesses would struggle without them. Considering the bar POS system cost of Lightspeed, this really isn't the best POS system for businesses on a budget.

The basic Lightspeed bar POS system package does come with basic inventory tracking and inventory management, business reports, menu management, and a unified view. This unified view is one of Lightspeed's main selling points and allows businesses to run their processes from one terminal as with the Epos Now Complete Solution.

In addition to the tiered pricing, Lightspeed splits its software into several different "series" that can be used on its point of sale systems. Depending on the age of your hardware, you will be forced to use the best POS software for your system. While this means that older systems don't get left behind, it does mean that these same older systems miss out on certain newer features and integrations.

POS hardware

 

Lightspeed's basic hardware offering is based around an iPad POS tablet. This means that Lightspeed hardware only works with Apple's IOS operating system. While this is great for businesses that already have an iPad POS system, you'll be locked into IOS. Considering how frequently Apple products get updated, this could become a major issue in a few years. This single operating system approach is similar to Toast's reliance on Android.

In addition to the iPad that acts as a cash register, the basic Lightspeed hardware bundle includes a Lightspeed-branded tablet stand, a cash drawer, and a receipt printer. Other accessories such as extra servers and card machines are available for an added fee. While this does allow business owners to build their POS system, Lightspeed's tiered pricing means that the costs can very quickly rise.

Payment processing

 

Much like Epos Now and Toast, Lightspeed offers integrated payment processing with its bundles. Their POS system charges a flat rate of 1.6% on all transactions including contactless, debit and credit card, and online payments. This rate is charged per month to basic and advanced package customers.

Integrations

 

As Lightspeed splits its bar software offerings into two series. These series are called the K Series and the L Series. Since these series are designed to serve different systems, they each have their own integrations and apps. While Lightspeed tries to cover the gaps in their service as much as possible, there are still features and apps locked behind different series.

The apps available with the different series are common to the POS industry. These apps include credit card processing integrations, accountancy apps, inventory management tools, and restaurant floor management apps. The integrations available are a mixture of free and subscription-based apps that charge a fee per month.

Square POS

Square is another big name in the POS industry. Founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey, Square has become one of the largest POS companies in the industry. In 2021, Square renamed itself to Block, Inc. The POS system offered by Block retained the Square name.

Square offers both retail and hospitality POS systems. Much like Lightspeed, it calls its hospitality system Square for restaurants. While Square for restaurants is not specifically a bar pos system, it can still be used to operate a bar.

Square allows you to contact their sales team from the front page of their website. They also operate a 24/7 support for their premium customers. If you're a free Lightspeed customer, you can only call for support Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm. In their "Support Centre" (found in the front page footer), their customers can search for keywords associated with problems they may have with the system.

POS software

 

Square for restaurants software is cloud-based. As we've mentioned above, one of the main benefits of a cloud-based system is that your information is safely stored off-site. For free plan customers, access to more advanced bar POS software features is completely cut off.

While free plan customers have access to menu, cash, table and inventory management, other features are exclusive to higher payment tiers. The features locked behind a paywall include mobile POS Software, seat and course management, and floorplan customization. The lack of mobile POS can be a big disadvantage for bars that lack the space needed for a full POS terminal.

POS hardware

 

Square provides all their own hardware. Much like Epos Now and Lightspeed, this creates a unified system. Using a unified system means businesses can add accessories to their initial package as and when needed. This can be an issue if you ever decide to move away from Square POS as some pieces of hardware won't be compatible with other systems.

The basic Square hospitality system is called the Square Register Kit. This kit includes the bare minimum of POS hardware. The Register Kit includes a Square POS terminal, a USB cash drawer, and a USB receipt printer. This bundle only supports the free plan software so you will have to go for a more expensive system if you're a premium customer.

Integrations

 

Square has a number of different apps and integrations available on their systems. Their app store is a mixture of third and first-party apps that can integrate into their systems. There are both free and subscription-based apps available.

To Square's credit, they do have a wide variety of hospitality applications available. These integrations range from simple loyalty programs to intricate accountancy apps. The ability to customize your system with integrations echos Epos Now. With this being said, it should be noted that Epos Now has more apps available overall.

Some of the first-party apps available on the Square app store are locked behind the tier POS packages. This paywalled content means that free plan customers do miss out on potential features.

How we evaluate companies

Objectivity is the name of the game when we evaluate different POS companies. We spend time going over each business and its offerings with a fine-toothed comb to get a clear picture of the company. This includes checking their hardware and software, seeing what bundles they offer, and the value of their services.

Once we have a good understanding of a business, the evaluation begins. Each and every feature a company offers is weighed against its competitors. This allows us to see what service is superior and make an objective evaluation. For instance, if one POS company doesn't offer a basic feature like the ability to track inventory, this almost immediately excludes it from being a good system.

Why do we evaluate?

We believe that business owners have the right to a great POS system for an affordable price. This is one of the major reasons our company was founded in the first place and is an opinion we hold fiercely in our hearts. By evaluating ourselves and our competitors, we're able to provide our potential customers with the tools they need to choose the system that works for them and their business needs.

Our qualifications

We've been major players in the POS industry for over a decade. Our systems are used by over 40,000 businesses worldwide and have won awards for our software and hardware. Our evaluators know POS systems inside and out and are uniquely positioned to pass judgement on our own systems and those of our competitors.

The best bar POS system

Now that we've compared some of the biggest POS companies, it's easy to see that Epos Now comes out as the best bar POS system. In software, hardware, integrations, and payment options, Epos Now leads the pack. For a small fee per month, Epos Now customers can use the best inventory management tools available, enjoy flat rates with payment processing, and better serve their customers with various hardware and software services.

Epos Now offers both hospitality POS and retail POS built with the average business owner in mind. We're proud of the service and systems we offer our customers.

Interested in more reviews?

If you're interested in more reviews from Epos Now, you can read more here:

Our team is standing by 24/7 to help you find the system that's right for you and your business. If you'd like to hear more about Epos Now, get in touch with our expert team below.

By submitting your details you agree to our terms and conditions & privacy policy.
Epos Now Phone Call us now