Can you use a retail pos system in a restaurant?

Recently I see more and more of a crazy thing going on.


Small business owners that don’t do their research trying to use a CHEAP retail pos system in a restaurant.


I understand that before we had compute r POS systems restaurants would use a 10 key register to calculate the bills, and that same register would be used in a retail location to ring up the price of items being purchased, BUT with restaurant pos systems being developed, becoming mainstream and common, using a retail pos system makes little to no sense.


A retail POS system is driven by a keyboard and barcode scanner i.e. keyboard entry.  When you scan a barcode your are just typing in a product code but in a faster manner then using your fingers.


Food items prepared in a restaurant don’t have barcodes, there is nothing to type in or scan when someone buys something.  In order to use a retail pos system that doesn’t have touch screen capabilities the server will be walking up to the pos system and typing in the name of the part number for the item being purchased.  So not only will a new server have to memorize a menu but they will also have to memorize menu item part numbers.

That is just crazy, why make your staff do something so silly because you the business owner bought the wrong software.

Some retail software has on-screen item look up so in that case you could use that retail software for the restaurant right?  I still wouldn’t because retail software has no way to print kitchen tickets so in order to print something for the kitchen to use you either have to close out the sale and hand over a copy of the receipt to the kitchen (which has extra lines and items on it that kitchens don’t need to see like prices and advertising.) or have your servers hand write kitchen tickets which just neglected one of the main reasons to get point of sale software in the first place (efficiency).

Additionally your wait staff is going to be really upset with you if your retail software is incapable of printing a gratuity line.  Think about how much of their income is dependent on tips and if the pos software can’t print a tip line then a large percentage of patrons that don’t have cash on hand are just not going to leave any kind of tip.

Point of Sale systems are tools for your business, but like any tool make sure your using it for the job that it was intended for.  Don’t use a screw driver when you need a hammer and don’t use a hammer when you need a screw driver.


Where to put your Touch PC

When designing the layout of your point of sale system like one of the complete systems available at, people often wonder “what is the best way to set this up”.  Do I put the cash drawer on the counter?  Do I put the monitor on the drawer?  Do I put the printer on the drawer?  Where does the keyboard go?  Do I need a mouse?

The good thing about an All-In-One PC is that you don’t have to hide a computer tower somewhere where it might get kicked or spilled on, the PC is in the monitor.  The bad thing about this is all the cables are sticking out of the PC.  However if you bought a quality made for point of sale touch computer then the base can often times conceal the cables.  Usually the metal bases are hollow with a hole at the top and bottom where cords can run from under the counter, straight into the base, and into the computer.  All your USB Cables, the power cable, the printer cable etc. all nicely tucked away.  If your running the cables in the counter then chances are your not going to want to put the PC on top of the cash drawer.  Instead you can buy under-counter mounting brackets and attach the cash drawer stealthily under your counter.

If you want the PC on top of the cash drawer, then the cables can still run into the base but instead of going into the counter you can run them straight to the peripheral and then wire tie the excess cable inside the base of the PC.

EVO_TP4_rear  EVO_TP4_side


One other option that typically doesn’t work for a retail cashier but does work for restaurants is to wall mount the all in one PC with a VESA bracket.  You can use a standard VESA mount that you would get for home theater use, but don’t skimp as a cheaper bracket may wobble or fall off the wall, you want one that was designed for touch screen use.

Consumer vs. Commercial Touch Screen Computers

A touch screen computer or touch screen monitor is really a no brainer when it comes to picking out your point of sale system, the price on these has really come down and the efficiency they provide is far superior then using a mouse and keyboard.  Far gone are the days of pressing different function keys (anyone remember the days of “F5″ > “tab” > “tab” > “enter” + manager overide  to do a return), or trying to find the mouse under the pile of coupons and bags sitting on the register.  Instead you have a nice touch screen display and you just click the button for what you want to do.  In addition to being faster for an experienced cashier to use it also reduces the training time down as you don’t have to teach your cashiers a series of keystrokes or hidden menus to do things.

With that being said there is a strong urge to go with a consumer media style computer like one you could get at Walmart for under $600.  DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE.  These PC’s are made to go in your house not your business!

  1. Lack of USB Ports – doing point of sale you will have printers, scanners, pole displays, mag stripe readers, cash drawers, scales, secondary monitors, usb drives, etc. plugged in and the PC just does not have enough ports, or your forced to daisy chain together a USB hub that might not even have enough power.
  2. Windows Home OS – cheap AIO units often come with a home version of the OS that may not be compatible with your POS Software or the credit card processing software.
  3. Short warranties and bad durability – Your PC will take abuse and if the screen all of a sudden goes out you are stuck.  Even if the PC warranty does cover incidental damage it may be 30 days before they will send you a replacement.  Can you really wait that long?
  4. Fourth they are not made to be touched, many times the home touch pc is a standard pc that had a touch controller attached to it, with this in mind the minimal stand is made to hold a monitor to look at, not to be poked at.  Clicking the edges of the screen can cause a big wobble that flat out causes motion sickness, or after repeated poking the monitor tilts or even breaks!  Commercial AIO usually are built with an all metal base, hide cords into the counter, and have heavy duty anti-tourque screws that don’t wobble.
  5. No integrated peripherals – A high quality touch screen has a spot where you attach a magnetic card reader (MSR), a customer display, a bio metric reader, etc.  The accessories attach where you want them to, the cables are hidden, it just looks a lot better.
  6. Correct screen resolutions – Consumer PC’s and Monitors are all about the numbers, bigger is always better right?  Not in the point of sale world, you want a resolution that matches your software, that way the buttons are the right proportions, the buttons are big so that they are easy to touch, and the unit itself won’t take up too much room.

When setting up a new business or upgrading an old one it is tempting to try and save a buck and go with consumer pc’s in the retail environment but in the long run your not doing yourselves any favors.  Getting quality made for retail point of sale hardware is worth it.  It will last longer, make you more efficient, and look better in your store.

For a great selection of peripherals and to consult with an expert give the guys over at a call 1-855-POS-GUYS (1-855-767-4897).  They have complete touch screen and barcode scanner systems for brand new businesses that are completely setup and ready to go, or hardware kits if you have a computer but want to add a touch screen monitor to it.