There are over a million restaurants in the United States. The cumulative sales from all these restaurants are expected to have clocked nearly $800 billion last year. The sheer size of this industry has given rise to a slew of POS apps that are explicitly targeted at this industry.

Picking a restaurant POS application is not merely an exercise in determining the cheapest product on offer. When starting a restaurant business, there are often several moving parts in the restaurant industry and a POS not only helps you with completing a transaction, but also goes a step ahead and assists you in other tasks like managing inventory, handling suppliers, integrating with your marketing campaigns, and helping you scale up to multiple locations.

Here are seven (7) must-have features you should look for while choosing a POS app for your restaurant.

1. Offline Management

Customers expect restaurants to process their orders fast. Given that most modern day POS systems are cloud-based, even minor disruptions to your internet connection could potentially throw your processes haywire. A POS that cannot work offline might prevent you from placing orders, handling payments, and so on. In addition to ruining customer experience, this can also potentially bring your revenues down. It is thus essential to invest in a POS app that will continue to process orders even when the internet is down.

2. Coupon System Integration

Restaurants run a lot of marketing campaigns over social networks and in the print media. In addition to these, there are also third-party sites like Groupon and LivingSocial where customers get a lot of coupons. It is not uncommon for a waiter or others in the service line to be unaware of a specific promotion campaign. A POS should be capable of being integrated with all the various marketing channels so that coupons from these different sources may be processed without the need for individual tools.

3. Payment Splitting/Tipping

Tipping is a big part of the food business in the United States. Also, customers often request for the payment to be split among multiple cards or modes of payment. These are extremely popular requests that a POS you pick should be completely capable of processing such payment requests straight out of the box.

4. Online Orders

The past few years have seen an exponential rise in the number of customers ordering food online through services like DoorDash and GrubHub. Mobile online ordering is a significant revenue chain for most restaurants in big cities like NYC and Chicago. The point of sale should be capable of integrating with such services to make it possible for the kitchen to process these orders seamlessly alongside regular dine-in orders.

5. Analytics

What is the average order value of a customer? What’s the average group size? How often do customers come back to your restaurant? What’s the most popular item on your menu? Does increasing price of food items by a dollar increase order value without bringing down volumes? These are very pertinent questions that drive a restaurant’s marketing strategy. Your restaurant’s POS holds data that can help you analyze and interpret the answers to such questions. It is crucial for a good system to either come integrated with sophisticated analytics systems or at least be capable of integrating with a third party software that can do the job for you.

6. Employee Management

The restaurant business is notorious for high turnover among the waiters as well as the cooking staff. It is thus essential for a restaurant owner to study the performance of each of your employees and reward them handsomely for a job well done – this helps keep turnover down and productivity up. When comparing point of sale systems, your POS should include the ability to tie each order to the staff handling them so that overall performance over a monthly or bi-monthly period can be studied for employee performance analysis.

7. Supply Chain Management

Inventory management is extremely critical in restaurants. The absence of even one ingredient may make it impossible for your restaurant to process dozens of different orders. A POS should have a sophisticated back-end integration system with your inventory systems so that a restaurant manager has a real-time view of the inventory stock – this helps manage orders as well as plan future procurement for your location.

Are you a restaurant owner shopping for a POS? Share what other features you want in a POS application for your restaurant in the comments below.