Best Bar POS Systems for 2024, Elevate Your Bar Management Game
June 14, 2023 • 23 minutes
What does a bar POS system stand for? POS, or a point-of-sale system, is a software solution that allows bars to manage orders and tabs, process payments, track inventory, log employee hours, prevent employee theft, run reports, and more. Such an automated bar management system has many benefits for an establishment. It helps businesses run smoother, operate better and faster, offer excellent customer service, and prevent employee or customer fraud.
At first sight, it seems that a bar can function effectively with a POS system fit for any other food services establishment. However, every bar owner knows that their business has unique bar point-of-sale software needs. Bars need to pre-authorize guests’ credit cards, manage tabs quickly and effectively and track liquor inventory precisely. Depending on the business size and peculiarities, there might be some more specific needs as well.
Thus, choosing the right operation automation tool is one of the highest priority tasks for new and existing businesses in 2023. In this post, we will compare POS systems for bars from the top players on the market and give you tips on choosing the tool that fits your business best. A POS system you pick should meet your current business needs and fit your budget, assist you with the growth of your business, and comply with any other apps that you use to run your establishment.
The Importance of Efficient Bar Operations
Efficient bar operation is crucial for the success of a bar business. Firstly, things move around much faster in bars than in restaurants and other eateries. Bar guests expect to be served precisely what they want on the spot without any hassle. Slow or inaccurate bar processes on customer satisfaction, staff productivity, and revenue generation.
What’s more, bars need top-notch bar inventory management software to track liquor stock, eliminate theft, as well as prevent over-complimenting. The solution needs to notify you when you run low on certain items and help you understand what items are most popular.
Customization of a guest’s order is another must-have bartender POS system feature. It shouldn’t be a problem for your employee to quickly swap ingredients for any drink or whip up a new custom cocktail. Wonder if a bar system needs much customization? Just check out what real people ordered in a bar, on this Reddit thread. So, your bar software should allow your bartender to whip up a Strawberry Daiquiri with a pickleback and exactly three olives without any problem.
Pick a solution that can streamline bar operations and improve overall performance. Since you already have a brief idea of how the right POS can facilitate and automate bar processes, let’s have a closer look at how bar point-of-sale software works and what key features it has.
Understanding Bar Point-of-Sale (POS) Software
Bar POS software is a ready solution that you install on your device (usually a tablet) or use with a provider’s hardware to automate and facilitate the operation of your bar. Let's see exactly how this works by breaking down the key features to look for in a point-of-sale system for bars.
It is the first and the most important feature of a POS system for bars. The solution should allow you to set up a flexible and customizable menu. This way, your bartenders and waiters will be able to meet the needs of the most demanding customers. What’s more, good customization allows you to make the most of happy hours, themed parties, and all kinds of promotions you can think of.
The best bar POS systems take the hassle out of credit card pre-authorization. An automated solution allows a bartender to pre-authorize customer cards, open a tab, keep track of it, and close it without interfering with the guest’s having a good time in your bar. In addition to that, good POS for bars allows not only card pre-authorization but the verification of a specified amount of money available on the card before the guest is served. This feature allows you to repel any dishonest visitors before they cause any damage.
Splitting the bill without the right bar payment system is a nightmare for every bartender. The best POS systems for bars make it a no-brainer. Your customer won’t have to wait until you calculate who pays for what and thus their overall experience in your establishment will be better.
The simple truth is bar supplies are pricey. Liquor is expensive. And, let’s be honest, every bar owner wants their supplies to generate revenue instead of being wasted on overspilling, unauthorized treats to family and friends or simply stolen.
A bar inventory system facilitates and simplifies bar inventory tracking. Bar inventory software features are usually integrated into a POS for bars. Real-time inventory tracking is essential for in-time restocking and being prepared to offer a change when your customers want an item that’s running low.
Tracking helps eliminate human error and fraud when it comes to liquor stock as well. When an employee knows every drop counts, they won’t feel like overcomplimenting or overpouring.
Top POS systems for bars allow bar owners to manage their employees effectively and boost the performance of their teams. They equip the establishment manager with the right tools to supervise the work of the team members, assign and change roles, manage access, and even measure employee engagement. POS systems for bars take the hassle out of creating and modifying employee schedules, checking the availability of certain employees, and planning days off and vacations.
A digital tool lets your team concentrate on work and making guests happy rather than on planning, tracking, and reporting.
What’s more, as a business owner, supervising your team and calculating the paychecks is so much easier with the bar accounting system features that good bar management software has.
The point is, there are numerous benefits of using POS software for bars, like tracking inventory and preventing theft, reducing manual errors, improving order accuracy, increasing team efficiency, and boosting customer satisfaction. So let’s take a closer look at the best bar POS software solution available right now.
Poster POS for Bars
Poster is a sleek POS that makes running a bar simple. This cross-platform point-of-sale app works on smartphones, tablets, laptops, PC, or Macs, so you don’t have to invest in costly hardware. With its smart features, you will be able to boost customer satisfaction and gain more revenue. Let’s take a look at the key features of this bar point-of-sale system.
Robust and intuitive
Most importantly, Poster is simple and intuitive. Learning how to use this bar POS system will take your employees only minutes. It operates on different devices seamlessly, operates in the offline mode with no hassle, and allows your employees to do their job faster and better, focusing their attention on the customers rather than staring at the POS and trying to figure it out. You can set up the system in under 15 minutes and start selling right away. You can customize dishes and drinks, take orders faster and accept all kinds of payments.
Manage your business from anywhere
POS software for tracking bar sales like Poster allows you to manage your establishment from anywhere, be it your home PC or smartphone on the go. You can control your bar finances, check the inventory quickly, review recipe-based inventory, and get detailed sales reports from any laptop or tablet around the globe. A smartphone Poster app lets you view and check reports, monitor financial flows, conduct storage audits, and get all the analytics you need immediately.
Flexible and usable inventory
Poster has some of the best bar inventory software features. It lets you manage bar inventory in real time. It supports all of the inventory operations that take place in the bar (supply, inventory check, waste, transfer, etc.).You can check the inventory quickly by entering the actual balances into the system and simply watching Poster do the rest. The system also allows you to monitor purchase costs from the suppliers. You’ll get notified when your supplies are running low so that you never upset your customers with a missing item they want.
Simple, clear financial reports
With Poster, you control your cash drawer at all times. In case of any discrepancy between the cash shift balances, Poster will help you find the gap easily. It also lets you check your net profit for any period, get exhaustive reports on all of your bar operation expenses, and calculate payrolls based on hours, shifts, or sales percentages. You get all of the transactions, receipts, and inventories under your control, wherever you are.
24/7 customer support
Bar and nightclub POS system support needs are different from those of an average eatery. Such establishments work way too beyond regular office hours, and the last thing you want is to have a technical issue no one can help you with during a busy night at the bar. At Poster, we got you covered in every pricing plan. You can get the assistance you need via email and chat (for Mini plan), and via email, chat, and phone (for Business and Pro plans).
How much does a Poster POS system cost for a bar?
Poster has a flexible pricing policy that makes it a great fit for every business, ranging from small bars to popular nightclubs. It operates on a subscription model, with a free trial.
You can give Poster a try for free by signing up for a 15-day trial. To do so, visit joinposter.com and complete a two-step signup process. During the free trial, you will have the opportunity to make test sales and experience the features of the Pro pricing plan at no cost. Dedicated customer support team will be available to assist you throughout the trial and answer any questions you may have ever after.
With Poster, the cost of a POS system for a bar depends on the size of your business and the specific features you require. You have the flexibility to choose the subscription plan that best suits your needs. There are three subscription plans available: Mini, Business, and Pro. You can easily switch between pricing plans as needed. With Poster, you only pay for the subscription, and there are no hidden or additional payments.
The Mini pricing plan is available at $24 per month if paid annually or $29 per month if paid monthly. The Business pricing plan is available for $44 per month if paid annually or $49 per month if paid monthly. The Pro pricing plan is available for $64 per month if paid annually or $69 per month if paid monthly.
What types of bars does Poster POS Fit best?
Mini pricing plan is the best fit for a small bar that needs to get up and running. With this package, you can add up to a hundred items to your menu and efficiently manage your menu and inventory. Additionally, you have access to a range of features including analytics, reporting, financial accounting, cash shifts, and delivery management. The Mini plan also offers customer loyalty programs and allows you to monitor sales from your smartphone. As you can see, it provides practically everything you need to start your small bar successfully. Furthermore, 24/7 customer support is available via chat and email.
Business pricing plan is the best fit for a middle-sized business that stands firmly on its feet. With this plan, you can add up to 300 items to your menu and enjoy all the features available in the Mini plan. Furthermore, you gain access to additional features such as promotions, dish modifications, and payroll calculation. Additionally, the Business plan includes 24/7 customer support via chat, email, and phone, ensuring assistance is always available.
Pro pricing plan is the best fit for a large bar with an extensive menu, numerous employees, and a high turnover. With this plan, you can add up to 1500 items to your menu, offering ample flexibility. In addition to all the features available in the Business plan, the Pro plan includes table reservations and extended access rights features. Furthermore, 24/7 customer support is available via chat, email, and phone, ensuring prompt assistance in this plan.
How to Choose POS Software for a Bar Business?
Strictly speaking, all of the most popular POS systems for bars will get the basic job of optimizing bar operation. However, some will be more expensive, others will require more time and effort to figure out, and others will lack or have more features than you need. So before you start looking for a perfect POS, you have to set your business goals, needs, and capacities clearly. Whether you are looking for the best POS for a small bar or a thriving nightclub, walk through the following steps before you make a choice.
Budget is naturally the first factor to consider when it comes to bar computer systems. Based on the stage your business is in now, choose a product you can afford to invest in. Take into consideration all of the additional costs and check for the hidden ones.
Business size is a tricky factor. For instance, with a small location that is just starting out you could get a simple bar inventory app, only to discover that it doesn’t meet your needs anymore as your business grows and it’s too painful to transfer data from it to another POS system. So, when choosing based on your business size, take your most likely future needs into consideration as well.
The features of the software you choose should correspond to your current business needs and promote its growth. Look for functionality that makes things at the bar run faster, easier, and more fun for your employees. A perfect POS should also take the hassle out of the communication between a bar guest and staff.
Ease of use. You want your bartenders to serve the guests quickly and nicely rather than stare at the complex POS trying to figure it out. Look for a system where everything is intuitive, clear, and smooth.
Customer support is a deal-maker or a deal-breaker for the bar POS industry. Bars operate far beyond usual office hours, and when you need urgent help with your system at 2 a.m. on a Monday, you probably wouldn’t want to write an email someone could look at in 6 to 10 hours, right? Look for 24/7 phone support, no less.
Integration capability (with existing hardware and software systems) is another point to consider thoroughly. Different pos systems for bars can be integrated with all kinds of hardware and software, or they can have a locked system where you have to get every solution you need from the same vendor. Both options have their pros and cons. Adding external integrations can be costly, and being limited to one provided could feel like you don’t really have a choice as well.
Scalability of the POS system should boost your business growth instead of limiting it. For instance, you might not need a bar POS loyalty system feature at the moment, but it can get essential over time. So, wouldn’t it be nice to have a POS with flexible and extensive functionality and different pricing packages where you choose what you pay for when you need it?
Security is another matter of priority when choosing a bar or nightclub management software, as it handles sensitive business and personal data as well as your finances. Look for a provider preventing the POS from being compromised from the inside and from the inside. Look for secure cash management, staff permissions, and account-based login when choosing the best product. When you get the POS, keep it up to date, monitor its activity, and use two-factor authentication, and complex passwords. All of it adds another layer of security to the POS.
Top 8 Features of a Bar POS System
Now, let’s get to the top features POS bar software should include.
Calculating, accounting, and checking all of the bar shift transactions can be a time-consuming and overwhelming task. A great number of one-order transactions in every bar adds up to the amount of work. The bar or nightclub management software you choose should be able to record every bar transaction accurately and create accurate sales reports based on them. A POS system should make accounting and auditing easy, accurate, and transparent.
With the right accounting tool inside of the POS system, you will be able to know precisely how your business is doing financially and what steps you need to take to boost your sales and make your customers happier.
2. Inventory Management
It goes without saying that keeping stock of the most ordered bar products is a must for the establishment’s operation. Most types of POS systems for bars have specific inventory management features that help to keep track of the drinks and ingredients in stock scrupulously.
When an order is recorded in a POS, the inventory should automatically be updated. This way, you will always know when you run low on an item and get a chance to restock it before your customers get disappointed. Adding numerous suppliers to the inventory could be another feature you need if you offer a wide choice of gourmet drinks and products. It also comes in handy if your POS can track prices in times of global inflation.
3. Employee Management
Handling the workload in a busy bar is a tricky task. A POS system at the bar can boost sales by managing the team better. For example, you can plan to allocate more resources on busy days and holidays and avoid last-minute hassle.
Inside a POS system, you will probably need to assign roles to different employees and grant different permissions to them. With the help of a POS, a business owner, and a manager should be able to set shifts, track and bill hours, and see the sales volume of every employee. You should be able to get notifications on void, discounts, or no-charge transactions to prevent employee theft or losses.
4. Loyalty Management
You can increase revenue with bar POS software if it has the right loyalty management features. For instance, you can reward your returning customers with points they can further exchange for discounts, free items, merch, or other things you choose. Customers get points when they make a qualified purchase.
The loyalty management feature can let you track and compare loyalty and non-loyalty purchases so that you can boost your sales. You can offer rewards based on items purchased, visits, or the amount spent in your bar. To increase the engagement of your customers, you need to make the loyalty program as simple and rewarding as possible.
Integrating a POS with an eCommerce platform could be a tricky task. What’s more, if you need to use an e-commerce solution outside of your POS, it means you have to pay for it as well. Thus, we recommend you look for a POS system that already has an E-commerce management feature inside of it.
If you need to create an online store for your bar, this feature comes in handy. Your POS should be able to sync information between your offline and online sales and update inventory in real-time.
6. Credit Card Processing
Credit card preauthorization is an important feature that helps you make sure that every order gets paid for. With a quick swipe, a bartender verifies the customer’s credit card and opens a bar tab for them. You can verify not only if the card is real, but also if it has a sufficient amount to cover the predicted bill of the customer.
The credit card processing feature allows you to stay away from customer fraud, stolen and fake cards. What’s more, this feature will take the fuss out of tab tracking and payment, allowing your customer to enjoy their time in the bar and the waiter serving them best instead of worrying about the bar tab and payments.
7. Reporting and Analytics
When looking for the right tablet POS system for a bar, pay attention to the reporting and analytics features the solution offers. A great POS system allows you to check real-time stats on how your business is doing from anywhere. You should be able to see stats on criteria like favorite orders, average check value, inventory, sales, turnaround, labor reports, employee productivity, and more.
POS reporting and analytics should let you see any bottlenecks and problems so that you can take immediate steps. It can also provide you with insights that help you decide how to grow your business, make your customers happier and your employees — more productive.
8. Email Marketing
Analytics and reporting features help you understand who your customers are, what they love, and what brings them back to your bar. Once you figure it out, you can set your marketing efforts to grow customer loyalty as well as your revenue. It’s important to be able to market your bar and keep customers coming back with the help of your POS. For instance, with an email messaging tool, you can create automatic promotions based on the purchasing activity of the customer or create promotions that fit all, like happy hours and seasonal offerings.
If the marketing feature is not available in the solution you choose, check what third-party marketing services it integrates with.
Tips for Implementing Software Correctly
After you choose a product that fits your needs best, it’s time to get it up and running. How to implement the software you chose correctly? Check out our recommendations for the successful implementation of POS software in a bar:
Plan ahead. Before you even choose a POS, talk to your staff about the pains they have and engage them in the selection process. When the product is chosen, choose the lowest activity period for its implementation. It will give you time to set everything up, train your employees, make sure all the integrations work smoothly, and give the POS a test run before you dive in.
Train your employees to use the POS. Some vendors offer different training options, from knowledge bases and video tutorials to dedicated representatives teaching your staff on-sight. It’s a good idea to dedicate a point person who can devote time to learning all the aspects of the POS system so they can answer most of the staff questions about it, as well as train new employees.
Integrate with existing systems your business uses. You need to make sure your new POS works well with other pieces of software your business uses. Naturally, businesses of different sizes and locations will have different integration needs. Yet, there are the most common ones like payroll, customer relationship management, analytics, reporting, and accounting.
Start a small pilot program before implementing new software across your entire business. Based on your business size, you can give the solution a try in one location only, during certain hours, or try it out only with one bartender. When you are sure things run smoothly, you can dive in and make a full transition.
Monitor the progress of your business with the implementation of the POS. Before you committed to a POS, you had a list of problems and tasks that needed to be covered with the POS software. Get back to that list to see where your POS is standing and what value it brings to your business. As time goes on, you might need to switch to a different pricing plan or discuss better customization with your provider.
For sure, using bar POS software for bars has many benefits. A POS system can help you take and process customer orders faster and better, verify customer cards, process payments, track your inventory, and monitor every cent that goes in and out of your business. It can help you make your employees more productive, take the hassle out of their work, and let them make your customers happier and more loyal. All in all, the right POS can streamline bar operations, improve efficiency and increase revenue.
So, what is the best POS system for a bar? The truth is, one answer for all does not exist. We encourage you to explore different bar POS software options and make an informed decision to automate your bar processes and achieve operational excellence.