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As a food truck owner, finding the right point-of-sale (POS) system can be the difference between success and struggle. Not only does a POS system help you process orders and payments efficiently, but it can also provide valuable insights into your business operations and help streamline your daily tasks.
What Is a Food Truck Point-of-Sale (POS) System?
A food truck point-of-sale (POS) system is a computerized system that, on the simplest level, processes orders and payments for food truck businesses. Typically, it includes:
- A computer or tablet.
- A cash drawer.
- A receipt printer.
- A payment terminal for accepting credit and debit card transactions.
However, some food truck POS systems may also include additional features such as inventory management, customer relationship management, and employee time tracking.
Why Do I Need a Food Truck POS System?
Food truck businesses need a POS system for two main reasons: to streamline their operations and to improve their efficiency.
A food truck POS system streamlines operations by automating many of the tasks that otherwise need to be done manually, such as taking orders, processing payments, and tracking inventory. By using a POS system, food truck owners can save a significant amount of time and effort, as they no longer have to manually record orders and inventory levels or calculate sale totals.
In addition to streamlining operations, a food truck POS system can also improve efficiency. For example, a POS system can help food truck owners manage their inventory more effectively by providing real-time data on what items are selling, what items are currently sold out, and what items are performing poorly. This can help them avoid running out of popular items and reduce food waste.
Food truck POS systems are the backbone of your food truck, allowing you to accept in-person and online orders.
What Features Are Important in a Food Truck POS System
When trying to decide which POS system is best for your food truck, you should first decide what features are most important to your business. Here are seven key features that you should consider:
Payment processing is one of the most important features of a food truck POS system. It allows businesses to accept and process electronic payments from customers, including credit and debit cards and mobile payments. This helps food truck owners to accept and process payments faster, reduce the need for cash handling, as well as track financial transactions in one dedicated place.
Menu and Inventory Management
Menu and inventory management give food truck owners the ability to manage and update their menu, track inventory levels, and generate reports on sales and inventory movement. With menu and inventory management, you can remove or modify menu items and their prices, set up discounts and promotions to help unpopular dishes sell, and track inventory levels in real time.
If you’re still using handwritten paper tickets to track customer orders, a POS system with a good order-taking feature is a must. By recording customer orders directly into the POS system, you can speed up the amount of time that customers spend at your truck’s window, more accurately record their orders, and collect real-time data about what is and isn’t selling.
Since food trucks tend to move around often, being able to set up and easily take down a mobile point of sale is essential. With a mobile POS system, food truck operators can accept payments and process transactions from anywhere, using a device such as a smartphone or a tablet, instead of bulky and stationary hardware.
In addition to the mobility of its hardware, food truck owners should make sure that their POS system of choice is able to work offline or has a built-in data plan since your truck won’t always be parked near a secure wifi connection.
If you have questions about your POS system, you’ll want a reliable customer support system that can help. After all, getting paid by customers hinges on your POS system running correctly. When trying to select the right POS system, do a quick Google search and see what customers are saying about their customer service.
Food truck point-of-sale (POS) systems typically come with a range of different hardware options to choose from, including tablets and mobile devices, printers, and cash drawers. The specific hardware options available to you will depend on the POS provider and the features of the system that you need to take advantage of. Some common hardware options for food truck POS systems include:
- Tablets and mobile devices. These portable devices can be used to run the POS software and accept payments from customers. Some POS systems offer specific tablets or mobile devices that are optimized for their software, while others may be compatible with a range of devices.
- Printers. Many food trucks use printers to produce receipts or order tickets for customers, as well as to print labels or other information. Some POS systems offer printers that are specifically designed to work with their software, while others may work with a variety of models.
- Cash drawers. Cash drawers are used to securely store cash transactions and can be opened using a key or a code. Some POS systems provide you with a cash drawer that works with their system, while others will recommend that you purchase a compatible one.
What Food Truck Owners (Really) Want Out of Their POS Systems
As I was researching POS systems, I wanted to get a sense of not only what the POS systems themselves offer, but what features food truck owners and other business owners actually use the system for. It’s clear that certain features are valued more than others. These features include:
- Financial reports. According to Salesforce, 50% of small business owners believe that the reports offered by POS systems are vital in helping the business run.
- The ability to collect customer data. POS systems allow businesses to keep track of their customer demographics, which helps with marketing. 56% of businesses use POS systems that collect this data at checkout, according to the National Retail Security Survey.
- Easy-to-use payment system for all employees. Having one set POS system that’s easy for all company employees to use speeds up business and makes keeping everyone on the same page a lot easier. According to Salesforce, this is just one feature that major retail executives say is in their top five must-have features.
- Offline options. Food trucks are mobile, meaning they may find themselves in ares with little-to-no internet activity. This makes having an offline option a must. Having this option is another of the top-five features retail execs look for in a POS system.
- Order management. It’s just bad business when orders get jumbled up and the customers that order first don’t get their food first. This is likely why 67% of POS system users make it a top priority to find a system that offers order management.
How Much Does a Food Truck POS System Cost?
There are a variety of costs associated with implementing a point-of-sale (POS) system for a food truck business. The main costs you will want to consider include:
- Hardware. Depending on the type of system you choose, you may need to purchase hardware such as a tablet or mobile device, a printer, and a cash drawer. These costs can vary widely depending on the features and capabilities of the hardware you choose and your food truck’s needs.
- Software. Many POS systems charge a monthly or annual subscription fee for access to their software. This fee may include updates and support, as well as additional features, such as inventory management and analysis.
- Payment processing fees. Most POS systems charge a fee for each transaction processed through their system. These fees can vary depending on the type of payment being accepted (e.g., credit card, debit card, mobile payment), and may be based on a percentage of the transaction amount, a flat rate, or a combination of the two.
- Integration costs. If you’re integrating your POS system with other systems or software (such as an online ordering platform or accounting software), there may be additional costs involved in setting up and maintaining these integrations.
To help cover these costs, food truck owners may be able to explore various funding opportunities. Some options worth considering include food truck loans, business credit cards, food truck business grants and hardware financing. It may also be possible to negotiate favorable terms with a POS provider, such as a discounted rate or a waived setup fee. It is important to carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of different food truck funding options and choose one that aligns with your business goals and financial needs.
The right POS system can provide peace of mind and help you manage every aspect of your business.
Best POS Systems for Food Trucks
Just like no two food trucks are the same, no two POS systems are either. You’ll want to shop around to find the POS system that best fits the needs of your truck. Here are a few of the best food truck POS systems for you to consider:
TouchBistro allows you to be active in and easily manage all aspects of your business, offering built-in inventory and menu management tools, as well as add-on options like POS-integrated marketing, gift card processing, online ordering, and loyalty program capabilities. These features can be added on as your truck’s needs grow, giving you a customized experience.
TouchBistro also offers you the ability to manage your staff’s schedules, payroll, and labor costs with built-in staff management software that was designed for restaurants. Plus, 50+ reports can give you insight into your truck’s sales, staffing, and more.
Toast is a popular point-of-sale (POS) system specifically designed for food and beverage businesses, including food trucks. They offer an impressive list of features. Toast allows food truck owners to easily create and update their menus, including modifying prices and descriptions, and even adding photos of menu items. Toast also provides real-time sales data, including sales totals, transaction details, and customer information.
Toast has a mobile app that makes them the best mobile POS system for food trucks. They allow food truck owners to manage their business from anywhere, including taking orders, processing payments, and tracking inventory. This can be particularly useful for food truck owners who are always on the move. One downside of Toast is its UI, which feels outdated and in need of an upgrade. That said, they are a powerful POS system that is trusted by many food businesses.
One of the main benefits of using Clover for a food truck is its mobility and flexibility. The system includes a portable card reader that can be used to accept payments from customers anywhere, as well as a variety of hardware options such as a cash register for food trucks and kitchen printers for use in a stationary location. Clover also offers a range of software features that can be useful for food truck owners, including inventory management, employee tracking, and customer relationship management.
One potential downside of using Clover for a food truck is that it requires a subscription fee starting at $120/month, which can be a significant cost for small businesses. Additionally, some users have reported that the system can be difficult to set up and customize, and that customer support can be slow to respond to inquiries or issues. That said, Clover does provide 24/7 access to customer support.
One of the best things about Square is that they don’t make you sign a contract or pay any installation fees. This makes it easy to get started using a POS system, even if you’re a small operation. You’ll find three plans, one of which is a free plan. There’s also a more advanced plan for $60/month.
Square allows you to make real-time menu updates, set kitchen timers, and manage in-person and online orders. Their employee management system can also help you easily keep track of schedules, timecards, and tips all in one place. You will pay a processing fee of 2.6% + 10¢ processing fee for in-person payments.
Revel is used by over 20,000 different businesses around the world. Since they use hardware that is familiar to almost everyone, the iPad, to host their system, it is easy to set up and train your employees on. Payments through Revel are done through cloud technology using Point-to-Point Encrypted (P2PE) payments.
Through Revel, you can manage your entire inventory. Since you can connect this data to your online menu, you can keep your customers up to date with what you have in stock. Plus, you can customize your own tech to your needs, making it a good option for a variety of different types of food trucks.
Lightspeed is trusted by big names like Five Guys and NOBU. Through Lightspeed Payments, you can accept all popular payment methods as well as manage your inventory through the system. Like many other POS systems, Lightspeed is an all-in-one payment and business management system. So you can see your sales volumes, customer profiles, and employee performances.
The one downside is that Lightspeed doesn’t seem to be as robust as other POS systems, but that doesn’t mean they’re not right for food truck owners looking for the basics. You can get a free demo of how Lightspeed works before fully diving in.
SpotOn lets businesses choose how complex they want their POS system to be. You can use SpotOn as a simple payment terminal and add on additional features as your business grows. Additionally, SpotOn lets you integrate your POS system with software your food truck may already be using, like QuickBooks and DoorDash Drive.
You can get 24/7 help from customer support through SpotOn, as well as access sales reports, manage employee scheduling, take on email campaigns, and manage inventory through the easy-to-use platform.
Rezku makes bold promises on their website, like the possibility of achieving “a machine-like production flow” and “deeper insight than you’ve ever had before” when using their system. Big talk? Nope, they have the customer reviews and testimonials to back it up. Rezku’s hardware works with various different models of Apple’s iPad, including the iPad mini (generation 4 and 5). Unfortunately, however, you will need to purchase your own iPad separately from the system.
Rezku is also unique in that it can help you create a loyalty program for your food truck, and you won’t have to pay an extra commission to do so. You can even offer reloadable gift cards through Rezku’s interface.
With dozens of POS options, business owners can select a system they can customize to their own needs.
Comparing Food Truck POS Systems
Reporting and analytics
Ability to bring your POS on the go
Easily manage your employees schedules and pay
Track your progress through reports
Does not bundle products together
|Starting at $69/month, with add on products priced a la carte (starting at $25/month), not including hardware costs||Loyalty programs and other customer-centric features|
Create and update menus
Real-time sales data
One of the most popular systems
Built with the food industry in mind
Easy-to-use mobile app
Long-wait times for customer service
|Free starter kit; $69/month for just point of sale features; $165/month for larger businesses that need more features||Mobile restaurants like food trucks|
Portable card reader
Multiple hardware options
Many hardware and mobile options
Employee tracking features
Slow customer support
System can be difficult to set up for some
|$49 for handheld card reader; $120/month for full POS system; multiple other plans with various features starting at $35/month||A variety of hardware and mobile options|
Multiple plans, including a free option
Real-time menu updates
Ability to set kitchen timers
Easily manage in-person and online orders
No need to sign a contract
No installation fees
Real-time menu updates
Easily manage in-person and online orders
High processing fees
Free plan is limited
Three plans: Free, Plus ($60/month), or Premium (custom price).
2.6% + 10¢ processing fee for in-person payments.
iPad is their host system
Real-time menu updates
Extra security conscience
Easily manage inventory
Less appealing UI
|Starting at $99/month for entire POS system||Easy-to-use tech|
Easily see your sales volumes
View customer profiles
Track employee performances
Easily manage your inventory
Manage sales volumes, customer profiles, and employee performances
|Not as robust as other POS systems||$69/month for the Lean plan which includes 1 register; $119/month for 1 register, integrated payments, and other more advanced features; $199/month for Advanced plan||A simple interface that still has all-in-one management|
Integrate your POS system with QuickBooks or DoorDash Drive
24/7 customer support
Access sales reports
Manage employee scheduling
Take on email campaigns
Easily include add-ons in your plan as your business grows
Integrate your POS system with software like QuickBooks and DoorDash Drive
24/7 customer support
You must connect with a representative to get an idea of what you’ll pay
Reports of slow customer service response
|Must contact customer service for a quote||Small businesses|
Rezku’s hardware works with various different models of Apple’s iPad
Create a loyalty program
Offers reloadable gift cards
Easily create loyalty programs
Works with various different models of Apple’s iPad
Positive customer reviews
You’ll need to purchase your own iPad
Starter plan starts at $119/month); Pro plant starts at $289/month;
Processing fees start at 1.99% + 15¢
Hardware prices vary, depending on your individual needs
Which Food Truck POS System Is Right for Your Business?
So, now that you know the many POS options, how do you possibly choose the right one for you? Make sure you’re considering the following:
- Consider what features are most important for your food truck. Do you need a system with robust inventory management capabilities? Do you need a system that integrates with your online ordering platform? Start by making a list of your must-have features to help narrow down your options.
- Consult your business’s budget. When choosing the best point-of-sale (POS) system for your food truck, consider the fees associated with each system, including per-transaction fees and any monthly or annual charges. Next, compare the costs of different systems and weigh them against the features and benefits they offer. This will help you determine which system is the most cost-effective for your business.
- Research POS systems thoroughly and compare them. Look into the various POS systems available on the market and compare their features and pricing. A good place to start is by reading reviews (both the positive and negative ones) and asking other food truck owners for their recommendations.
- Ask to try out systems that you are interested in. Many POS systems offer demos or free trials, which can be a great way to test out a system before committing to it. You should take advantage of these opportunities to see how these systems work in a real-world setting.
- Consider whether or not the system can grow with your business. As your food truck grows, you may need to upgrade your POS system to meet your increasing needs. You should think about whether the system you are considering has the flexibility to grow with your business or not.
As the food truck industry continues to grow, the need for efficient and reliable POS systems is essential. The right food truck POS system can help manage inventory, staff, and customer orders while increasing profits and efficiency. With many options available on the market, it’s important to consider the features, price, and customer service when selecting a POS system for your food truck business. Choosing the right POS system can make a huge difference in the success of your business, so take the time to find a system that works for you and your needs.