Square for Restaurants review: plain Port, but efficient, POS
Square for Restaurants EPOS is a excellent value for those with multiple tills.
Square for Restaurants is an iPad-based POS system that operates with Square card terminals for payments. The monthly subscription includes software for numerous iPads at the same location. No lock-in. Self-serve ordering. Seamless integration with Square payments.
Lows: Not always that intuitive. No ingredient-tracking. Features can be too simple for some.
Best for: Small restaurants and busy cafés with various points of sale.
What is Square for Restaurants?
Square restaurant POS is a cloud-based system that works on iPad and with Square card terminals. It has restaurant-specific features for small single- or multi-location food areas, with options to connect to additional tools away from the Square platform.
The program requires an online connection -- otherwise, you can't accept card payments or sync with other iPad tills. You can set up an unlimited number of tills, send orders into a kitchen printer -- even integrate with online orders -- among other things.
Many features are similar to Square's free Point of Sale system. A cool thing about Square would be the complimentary functions like invoicing and virtual terminal.
There are three Square POS restaurant plans: Free, Plus and Premium.
The Free program is (surprise, surprise) free and has the least features. The Plus plan costs a monthly fee per place: #69 + VAT. Contrary to a lot of other POS providers, this fee covers millions of POS terminals provided that they are all placed in exactly the same location. Any extra trading locations will cost another #69 + VAT each. The price of the Premium plan is tailored around your business, therefore it requires your contacting Square to get a quote. Otherwise, you could always use the Free program for an unlimited time.
The card transaction fees are the same for the Tavern software as with Square's other services: 1.75% per transaction via chip and PIN, contactless and swipe cards, whether credit or debit card, domestic, foreign or premium card, or mobile wallet. Refunds are free to process, and chargebacks incur no admin charges. If you would like money deposited within a few hours, you can trigger Instant Transfers for a 1% fee added to the bottom transaction rate.
Delivery orders that are placed online incur an extra 50p fee even though you handle the deliveries yourself. This is to cover the additional features involved in takeaway orders, such as text massaging clients updates about the purchase.
A Square Restaurant Kit bundle is available to buy if you're not receiving your own hardware individually. The kit is delivered within 2-3 working days and there are three main bundles to select from, all comprising: 1 x Ethernet receipt printer with 25 paper rolls, 1 x Heckler iPad stand, 1 x Star Ethernet kitchen printer with 25 paper rolls, and 1 x printer-driven cash drawer.
In addition to this, the Reader Kit Comprises a Square Reader, the Terminal Kit Comprises a Square Terminal, and the Terminal + Stand Kit contains a Square Terminal, Square Stand and Square Reader with accompanying Dock for the card reader. An iPad can be added to any of the kits.
It is less expensive to get these kits as a package through Square than to get the equipment individually (see before-and-after prices above), but in the event that you already have any of the things, it could be better to source the rest separately.
If you can not pay upfront, Square supplies their own interest-free instalments available as 3-, 6- or 12-month plans. After submitting a few basic details for the credit check, you will find an instant response as to whether Square approved the repayment plan.
While Square is well known for their user-friendly Point of Sale (the free POS app) interface, Square for Restaurants looks too simple to think it has all the features you need in a restaurant. Do not be fooled, though -- the system is built for efficiency, providing you with features to get a tailored experience of the POS system. You can switch between menus via a button beneath the menu display. Display groups can contain any categories like Hot Drinks or Shortcuts where functions can be accessed from the main screen rather than the separate Actions section.
Basically, you can customise the POS screen in many ways to fit your requirements, e.g. include bestsellers on the primary Breakfast menu screen, but by clicking Hot Drinks, you go to a screen that shows all the hot beverage options. A good deal of processes can be customised, such as whether to include Service Charge by default or manually. You can also choose the colour scheme -- either dark or light colours.
You can not display pictures of products, along with the font and style of buttons and menus are so non-distinct it can actually slow you down when you carefully read that choice to tap next. Some actions, like adding a version of a product, require an unnecessary extra button tap, so could happen to be compact more. That said, the backend POS settings give you options to select which screen to land on following certain actions -- so the stream is partly decided by you.
Square asks you to establish a lot of functions before the first time of using the app. This can be daunting for somebody who has not considered all the detailed ways to use a POS system. A more intuitive way is to decide all these things in steps as you are introduced to the functions visually in the software, with detailed explanations of what it means. I had to look up some settings in the help section before I managed to make a qualified decision on some of them.
When compared with the free Square Point of Sale, the Restaurants software feels like an expansion of the free software -- but with much more restaurant features and much more customisation choices. The interaction between front-of-house and back-of-house operations, i.e. orders placed at the till and fired into the kitchen, is one of the key things you are paying for. This includes:
Deciding which foods have been fired immediately to the kitchen
Many features are similar to the free Point of Sale features, including all of the payment methods (card reader, manual card entry, cash, cheques, vouchers, others), split accounts, adding tax, tipping, product variants, client library and gift cards. A difference with the Restaurants POS is that settings for each iPad till have options to tailor some of those functions further.
Let's have a look at Restaurants features, some of which are only the Plus (compensated ) plan.
Table tab functions: The visual floor plan, dividable into segments, is handy for keeping track of requests. Attach each invoice to a person/chair and check the timer attached to each table for when the group arrived. Decide when the table should turn on the floor plan (e.g. after an hour) to make it easier to spot who is likely to leave soon. You can also split bills after you started creating one order to get a table, so every chair gets a separate receipt for their own products.
Discounts and promotions: Set up different kinds of discounts like Buy One Get One Free, Student Discount (# or% ) and timed promotions like a Happy Hour offer on all alcoholic beverages on set days and times.
Service charge and tipping: At the Dashboard, you can set a discretionary service charge to be added to bills automatically, whether for larger groups (depending on number of chairs ) or anyone. It is also possible to apply taxes to the service fee automatically. Alternatively, you can set up detailed tipping options.
Employee management: Set up individual staff accounts so you can analyse sales per employee, attach orders to coworkers, monitor work hours, set individual staff permissions and view timecards. Square for Restaurants requires employees to log in with a device code specific to the respective iPad.
Stock management: Products can be monitored, i.e. you may add stock levels for each item and automatically hide it when out of stock, but you can not track ingredients. This means you need another system to handle food stock and fresh stock orders.
Customer library: Create a customer library with personal details like address, order history and stored payment methods (useful for invoices). You can not add loyalty points to customer profiles, however, so you are dependent on discounts and gift cards as devotion perks.
While all of the above can be carried out with Restaurants Plus, there are some limitations on the Free plan. On both plans, you get access to the Order Manager, fast entry requests, multi-location management, remote device management, open tills, repeat items, dining preferences and advanced discounts.
Virtual Terminal (for remote payments, no monthly charges )
Features not included in the restaurant POS may be added as additional subscriptions via the many partner apps that integrate with Square. These cover areas such as bookkeeping, ecommerce, customer loyalty, stock management and promotion.
Most of these extra tools cost a monthly subscription, so you should consider carefully if it is economical to choose a POS system containing all the features you want, or if it is far better to pick and choose integrations that work with Square for Restaurants.
It has never been more important to have a socially distanced installment as during COVID-19, and Square has been quick to introduce features for this. Firstly, all Square merchants can mark POS transactions as eat-in, takeaway, delivery and pickup to distinguish transactions in the system. This can be for click and collect (pickup) and takeaway deliveries, or self-serve orders inside restaurant premises.
You can print QR codes to place on your tables, which seated clients can scan with their phones. A web page with your menu then appears in their mobile browser, enabling the customer to purchase and pay for meals from their telephones. All food orders will be sent to the POS or kitchen display system so they can be ready immediately.
Alternatively, Square for sandwiches could be connected with internet takeaway sites (Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Just Eat and others). This requires a monthly Deliverect subscription fee of #39 + VAT, which is a discounted price for Square users (begins with a free trial). Just like the online ordering page, Deliverect automatically sends takeaway orders to your POS system.
Card payments and hardware
Square for Restaurants can be used together with Square Reader and Square Terminal, but the latter has some restrictions. The system can't be used with other card machines.
Square Reader is completely integrated with the Restaurants software, i.e. it activates and accepts card payments in sync with the Square for Restaurants app when it's connected with the iPad through Bluetooth.
Square Terminal, on the other hand, can only use the built-in Point of Sale software, but you can connect it using the Restaurants software so it's in sync for tableside ordering.
When setting up the Square POS for restaurants, These configurations are automatically enabled on the Terminal:
Predefined and open tickets
Open tickets menu as home display
Require passcode from all users
These settings can be changed manually. You can't add service fee, print'minimised reception span' receipts, add products to a chair or use detailed modifiers on Terminal.
The restaurant software only works on iPad and a choice of compatible receipt printers, cash drawers and kitchen knives. In addition to that -- the backend settings enable you to determine how a food order is sent to kitchen knives (e.g."Straight Away" items are sent to the kitchen printer without coursing information) and operate together with other iPads in your food establishment.
Reports and analytics
Square's analytics are obtained fully from the web dashboard (have to log in through an online browser). These are just some of the things you can analyse in detail: earnings trends, payment methods, discounts, modifier sales, labour vs. sales analyses, service fees, voids and gift cards.
The cash drawer is handled through the iPad app, where you start the day confirming the quantity of cash, and close the till at the end of the day when you can confirm the amount left in the till (note: these are Plus plan attributes ).
Live sales (Plus only)
Revenue reports which can be emailed, printed or customised by day, device and team member
Money management reports detailing paid-ins/outs, start of change, etc. (Plus only)
Export end-of-day reports to an Excel (CVS) file, or integrate transactions with Xero, Zoho Books or another accounting application.
Customer service and reviews
The Plus subscription includes round-the-clock phone service, while Free only has weekday service (9am-5pm).
There's also a help section online, walkthrough videos and articles answering most questions.
Customer reviews are usually good for Square UK, but there are occasional reports of capital being held unexpectedly by Square who then ask for trade proof as part of their safety procedures. From our own evaluations, we have not had any issues with Square's payments or service.
Who's Square for Restaurants best for?
If you're already using Square for card payments, ecommerce or invoicing -- and opening a café, bar or restaurant -- it is a no-brainer to try Square for Restaurants. The software works seamlessly with Square obligations and integrates with all your Square activities across multiple locations, but it only works with Square's card servers (and just on iPad).
On the other hand, when you have multiple till points at precisely the exact same location, there is lots of money to spare because the monthly fee covers unlimited iPad tills in precisely the identical location. Most other POS providers bill their subscriptions per pill till, which quickly racks up the monthly price. The main things you're paying for is a restaurant-tailored POS system with crucial features for this business, customisation options, coordinated orders between front and rear of home -- with 24/7 support thrown in for good measure.
Then again, there is a lot of value in Square's free payment features, such as self-service ordering at your establishment.
Other POS systems for hospitality have more advanced features for a similar price (or similar features for less), but with multiple tills at one location, Square can work out cheaper per iPad.
Square can integrate with tons of partner apps for a variety of functions like customer loyalty, takeaway ordering, restaurant management and more, so you're not actually that restricted. What you can not change is the fact it only works with Square's credit card terminals, so there's absolutely no choice to use other payment systems.
The lack of a locked-in contract makes Square for Tavern a low-risk investment, but finding out what functions you need in your own food business is vital to deciding whether it's the best value for your budget.