As secure mobile payment methods like Apple Pay, continue to surface, more and more business owners are feeling the pressure to adopt new payment technologies for their business.

Mobile POS (mPOS) and iPad-based POS software provide restaurateurs with significant advantages over businesses that still use traditional cash registers. But even with the benefits of user-friendly technology at budget-friendly price tags, more than half of restauranteurs are still not using restaurant POS software.

To get the scoop on why restauranteurs are slow to adopt mPOS, we spoke to market researcher Justin Guinn from Software Advice. Check out Justin’s thought on mPOS adoption and the benefits that iPad-based software can bring to your business.

SK: You recently found out how many restaurants are actively seeking an mPOS system for their business. What did you uncover?

“Our recent study found that 72% of single-location restaurant owners are looking to adopt a mobile POS for running their business. These systems offer multiple benefits over cumbersome, traditional restaurant POS solutions. Chiefly, these mPOS systems are much simpler to implement than a traditional, bulky system.”


Why do you think that number is so high?

“To answer, and get a full picture on that, it’s helped for us to look at the many conversations that we have with restaurant owners every day; we found that 63% of them flat out don’t currently have a POS system in place. Instead, they are relying on manual/paper and pen methods, and some kind of Quickbooks or Excel spreadsheet software. Running a restaurant only with this system (or lack thereof) is often inaccurate and will undoubtedly be a time-consuming process. At the same time, many older legacy POS systems that most restaurant operators are familiar with, are costly to maintain and update, and many times can simply be ineffective. So, given that 72% stat I mentioned, it seems like a majority of restaurants are realizing the inefficiencies with both manual methods and with older systems, and are turning to other possibilities, like mPOS, as an alternative.”

If you were to sum it up, what are three of the top benefits for a restaurant operator who adopts an mPOS system?

“Mobile POS systems offer many, many benefits for restaurants operators. First off, with their consumer-based hardware and subscription-based pricing models, these systems are very affordable. Along with that, since they do run on consumer-based tablets, that makes these systems easy to use; especially compared to costly and cumbersome legacy systems. Finally, perhaps the greatest benefit of these new mPOS systems is the mobility they provide restaurant servers and other staff. This mobility can lead to improved customer experiences that can really differentiate one establishment from another.”

restaurant owner standing in front of pos system

Affordability is the first one you mentioned. Are mPOS systems really that much cheaper than legacy systems?

“We get that question a lot, and just to make it clear: Yes, mobile POS systems are much cheaper than traditional, legacy POS systems.

“As New York City restaurant owner Anthony Tse told us, “those traditional systems are, at times, in the six digits for hardware, training, setup etc. That’s really the first reason we decided to look at iPad systems.

“For a single-location restaurant, an mPOS system is a great starting POS that can sustain a business for the long-run, but it’s not only limited to first-time POS users. Mobile POS systems are able to grow and expand with restaurants, allowing multiple restaurant locations to operate independently while still being managed by the same backend reporting.”

You said mobility, which might sound like an obvious benefit for ‘mobile POS,’ but what have you heard from restaurants who’ve adopted this kind of software? What has it done for their business?

“The mobility these mPOS systems provide is probably their greatest benefit. With these tablets, servers can now input and send orders at the table as well as process payments. This greatly cuts down on server errors by enabling them to put the order in and send it without having to write anything down or memorize anything. Additionally, the software allows for customization and flexibility. Restaurant operators can prompt servers to use recommended modifiers and other add-ons. These up-sell items have very positive effects on revenue, and they enable customers to get exactly what they want, even if they didn’t know it was an option. In addition, a past study we did found that mPOS systems can also have a positive influence on tips.”


You listed ‘Ease of Use’ as another benefit… Do these systems create a lot of downtime for restaurants as they’re adopting them?

“Mobile POS systems are easy to use and set up. The downtime for implementation can be as little as a few hours. It really just depends on how complex the overall system is (i.e. wireless printers, docking stations, kitchen/bar communications). But compared to legacy systems that typically require an installation and implementation specialist, setting up mPOS systems is a breeze. Plus, most of the top vendors out there in today’s marketplace have pretty solid customer support in case any questions or hiccups do arise.”

When deciding on an mPOS system, are there certain things a restaurant should consider to make sure the platform fits their needs?

“There are definitely things restaurants need to consider before adopting mPOS software. To take full advantage of the mobility aspect of these systems, restaurant operators have to put protocols and best practices in place to get servers, bartenders, the kitchen, and the rest of the staff on board. Along the same lines, the mPOS system ought to feature user-friendly customer-facing functionalities so that the ways that the actual system interacts with customers is a positive, painless experience. Another key aspect to consider is that the mPOS shouldn’t be skimping on backend features like inventory management, food costs, customer management, and reporting and analytics capabilities. These are key features for restaurants to employ and most mPOS systems offer them. We’ve found that it helps to put together a POS checklist of what a restaurant needs to make sure the systems they implement really aligns with what they want.”


Now that you have information on why restaurant POS software is great for businesses, you might have questions about choosing an actual system. If you’re curious to learn more, checkout our post on 4 questions that will help you avoid costly mistakes when purchasing your system.

Sara Sugar

Sara Sugar

As Managing Editor at ShopKeep, a leading iPad Point of Sale System, Sara Sugar uses her distinguished journalism background to boil down small business and point of sale topics.