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Aloha POS Review

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7.5/10 (Expert Score)
Product is rated as #26 in category Restaurant POS Systems
NCR Aloha is a cloud-enabled tech platform that helps operators embrace digital transformation to run every aspect of the restaurant, drive on- and off-premise revenue, streamline management and exceed guest expectations. Used in thousands of restaurants worldwide, more staff are trained on Aloha than any other POS.
Easy to Use
8
Value
7
Support
7
Functionality
8
Feedback
7.5
PROS:
  • Robust and easy to use menu building options
  • Tons of excellent custom features for different restaurant-types
  • Both mobile and fixed hardware
  • EMV technology available
  • Easy reporting access -- and mobile data reporting features
CONS:
  • Pricing isn't transparent
  • No hardware flexibility -- can't bring your own system
  • No payment processing flexibility
  • Setup can get complicated
  • Issues with customer support

My Aloha POS System Review


Aloha POS Systems Review

My in-depth Aloha review will explore all the features and benefits of these two powerhouse POS systems: Aloha Essentials and Aloha Cloud.

If you’ve been searching the market for the perfect point-of-sale partner, it’s critical to understand as much as possible about each provider. Is this popular POS service right for your restaurant? Let’s explore!

Overview of Aloha POS

NCR Aloha is a cloud-enabled tech platform that helps operators embrace digital transformation to run every aspect of the restaurant, drive on- and off-premise revenue, streamline management, and exceed guest expectations. With an all-in-one subscription model, core capabilities include fixed and mobile POS, contactless dining, analytics, online ordering, 3rd party delivery integrations, and more. Used in thousands of restaurants worldwide, more staff are trained on Aloha than any other POS.

Aloha POS is a titan point-of-sale solution provided by NCR — a large payment technology provider that first started operating over 130 years ago. Aloha POS is backed by one of the most experienced payment technology companies in the United States and serves more than 75,000 restaurants worldwide. NCR is a larger public corporation that trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

NCR Aloha Essentials was released in October 2019, and it includes the best features of its signature NCR Aloha platform for fixed terminals and mobile devices. It’s an all-in-one subscription-based service that includes payments, mobile alerts, advanced reporting, takeout functionality, and centralized site management. It also includes hardware and support services, all for one monthly fee.

The system is a hybrid cloud-based solution, which means you won’t risk losing important information if something happens to your hardware. You can access vital reporting information from an offsite location. It also includes mobile POS functionality, which helps servers increase table turns and reduce order errors.

Aloha POS also offers in-house payment processing that accepts all major forms of payment. EMV technology is also available. It’s easy to build menus and offer seasonal promotions to customers — you’ll also be able to split tabs and tips with ease. Aloha has adjusted with COVID by offering important tools like online ordering, QR code payments, and self-ordering kiosks.

With a list of hundreds of integrations, there are many ways to upgrade your POS system and improve your business. It’s time to explore the specific components of this POS platform in more detail below.

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Pros vs. Cons


PROS:

  • Online ordering available
  • Robust and easy to use menu building options
  • Attractive interface
  • Tons of excellent custom features for different restaurant types
  • Both mobile and fixed hardware
  • EMV technology available
  • Cloud-based system
  • Easy reporting access — and mobile data reporting features
  • 24/7 customer support

CONS:

  • Expensive for small business
  • No hardware flexibility — can’t bring your own system
  • It doesn’t offer payment processing flexibility
  • Pricing isn’t transparent
  • Setup can get complicated
  • Reports of outages
  • Reports of too many ‘clicks’ to perform transactions or take orders


Aloha POS Pricing

Aloha Cloud: Offers a Starter plan starting at $0/month, but it is limited in features compared to the premium plan.

Aloha Essentials: It has a more comprehensive set of features, and pricing starts at around $175 per month per terminal.

Key Features

If you want to know the real nuts and bolts of a POS system, it’s essential to understand its core features. In this section of my review, I’ll break down Aloha restaurant POS’s primary features. Check it out:

NCR Aloha Restaurant POS Terminal

  • Cloud-based POS system that also has an offline mode that ensures you don’t lose transactions
  • Access key reporting data from offsite locations — there’s also a mobile application available
  • Quickly build menus, offer promotions, and customize orders and transactions
  • Manage tabs and split checks with just a few touches of your screen
  • Touchscreen hardware systems that are built to last in a restaurant or hospitality environment
  • In-house payment solutions that provide you with EMV options and the ability to accept all primary forms of payment
  • A long list of outside integrations and add-ons that can add to the capability of your POS platform
  • Manage all your restaurant’s menus, data, and promotions from a central location — you don’t need to be onsite to customize your point-of-sale platform
  • Specific features for a range of different types of hospitality businesses, including pizza and wing stores
  • Mobile POS options that allow you to offer quick service and tableside ordering
  • Set up mobile alerts that notify you of certain events or irregularities
  • Access to customer support via telephone 24/7 — every day of the year
  • Takeout ordering features that allow you to track past customers and store information — plenty of features that also help streamline the takeaway order and fulfillment process
  • Robust security protocols that help you prevent intrusions and other issues
  • Inventory management enables you to keep track of important ingredients and products

Data Reporting

Aloha POS allows you to access reporting data from external locations quickly. You’ll be able to break down different data sets, such as labor costs, sales, employee trends, and more. It’s a great way to access various aspects of your operations and improve your business. Here are some additional features of advanced reporting:

    • Includes 380 standard reports and an export builder that enables customization
    • Schedule reports and alerts emailed periodically
    • Integrates with many accounting software packages – QuickBooks, Great Plains, Lawson, MAS 90/200, Solomon, ACCPAC, and others
    • Integrates to payroll packages including Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Millennium, and others

Best of all, you can access all your core data from your mobile phone. You’ll be able to track staff hours and a range of other data points in “real-time.” You can even set up automated alerts that notify you of certain events.

Aloha Mobile Reporting App

Deployment Type

Aloha offers fixed and mobile POS stations and self-service kiosks. Aloha POS pitches itself as a cloud-based platform but may also require a local onsite POS server hardware device for larger installations. So, what does this mean? Aloha POS stores all your reporting information and menu templates locally but synchronizes your data to the cloud — which means you’ll be able to access your data remotely and make customizations when you’re offsite.

In reality, because Aloha POS is physically installed on your hardware system, it’s more of a hybrid platform than an exclusively cloud-based system. This is the modern standard for many POS systems. It’s also an excellent choice because it tends to be more reliable, and it means you won’t have to worry about losing important information if your hardware is stolen or damaged. The downside is this can add complexity to your installation and be more expensive.

Industries Served

You can use this platform across a broad range of industries, but tons of excellent hospitality features help you customize Aloha POS depending on your type of restaurant. For example, there are features specifically for cafes, bars, and quick-service restaurants (QSR) — you can even find custom features for pizza shops.

In terms of industry size, Aloha is geared towards and markets to enterprise-level restaurants. However, the software is purpose-built for full-service, quick service, and everything in between. So I’d recommend this platform for mid-sized to large restaurants or hospitality businesses looking to scale with multiple locations.

NCR Silver is probably a better option for small restaurants or businesses that only need a few terminals and require less robust features.

Ease of Use

Aloha Essentials software is easy to use and familiar to staff — it also has a straightforward interface that makes finding items much more convenient. Most servers in the business have worked with Aloha, which is a very prevalent system in the industry. Also, the best POS platforms are those that are the easiest to use. If you’re going to invest in a new point-of-sale provider, it must save you time and money.

Aloha Point of Sale Terminal

While there is plenty about Aloha POS that’s easy to work with, there are also a few complaints from users. Some clients claim that it can take too many ‘clicks’ before you’re able to take an order or perform a transaction. This may slow down how quickly you and your staff can perform transactions in the workplace — it’s essential to keep this in mind.

Hardware

Aloha POS seems to keep its cards close when it comes to hardware requirements. The company doesn’t provide any information about compatible devices — their main priority appears to be selling their own hardware systems to clients. In many cases, this means that you won’t be able to bring your own iPad or Android device with you. This may be a bit of a letdown for some business owners.

Still, Aloha POS offers its own durable hardware devices that are built specifically to meet the restaurant industry’s requirements. They offer ever-evolving NCR POS terminals that make it easy to take orders and process transactions.

m70 OrderPay Device

They also offer proprietary mobile devices like the Orderman for table-side ordering and line busting. You can also get a Kitchen Display System (KDS) that integrates nicely with the POS.

If you want to use an iPad or Android device, there are plenty of other competitors on the market that offer this option.

So, how much does NCR Aloha hardware cost? Generally speaking, you can expect to pay about $1,000 per terminal.


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Integrations

Integrations and add-ons help you quickly upgrade the features available with your POS provider. Fortunately, you have a lot of integration options on offer via Aloha POS. These integrations can help you with accounting, payment processing, online ordering, and a range of other functionality.

Aloha Online Ordering Screen

Two popular integrations you’ll find with Aloha include Clover and Microsoft Dynamics GP. There are actually over 200 third-party integrations available at Aloha POS, but you’ll need to contact Aloha POS directly to find out more information.

Payment Processing

Aloha POS is a bit elusive about its credit card processing compatibility. As NCR is a major provider of payment technology, it appears that Aloha POS wants you to work with its in-house solutions — though the prices of these solutions are not publicly available. This is certainly something that you’ll want to clarify with Aloha POS before you make any financial commitments.

Still, you can accept all major credit cards and EMV payments via Aloha POS — which is a distinct advantage in having all components in one solution.

Security Features of Aloha POS

Like other POS systems, Aloha implements various security measures. First, it is PCI DSS compliant. PCI DSS is a set of security standards designed to protect card information during and after a financial transaction. 

Secure access controls are in place so only authorized personnel can access sensitive information and critical functions within the system. This includes user authentication, role-based access control, and the ability to assign specific permissions to different users based on their roles within the restaurant.

The Aloha POS software is also regularly updated to address potential security vulnerabilities and protect against emerging threats. For those using the cloud-based features of Aloha POS, NCR provides secure cloud storage to protect data from unauthorized access and ensure data integrity.

Aloha POS Software Training

Even the best system is only as good as the staff who know how to use it. With Aloha, I’m pretty impressed by their range of training options. Whether you prefer in-person sessions or online courses or just want a knowledge base your team can refer to, they’ve included it.

But here’s what really stands out to me – Aloha has a team of trainers who have actually worked in restaurants and hotels. They’re not just tech experts but genuinely understand the restaurant industry. In my experience, that can make a huge difference in how effectively they train your staff and help you get the most out of the system. It’s a level of expertise and insider knowledge that not all POS providers can match.

Aloha POS Customer Service

At Aloha POS, you’ll be able to contact their customer support team 24/7 via telephone. If you run a restaurant that’s open late at night, it’s critical to have a customer support team that you can contact if something goes wrong. NCR claims to be backed by 35,000 employees globally with a large force of value-added resellers (VARS).

User Reviews

I’m hoping you find my review of the Aloha system valuable, but I realize it’s just one perspective. So, I’ve scoured user reviews and curated opinions from restaurant owners and managers with hands-on experience with Aloha POS to give you a well-rounded view. These reviews offer insights into how the system performs in real-world scenarios.

Rather than directly quoting each one, I’ve highlighted the main themes, both positive and negative, that consistently appear in these reviews. This should provide some balance in determining what real users appreciate about the Aloha POS system and the challenges they’ve encountered while using it in their daily operations.

Let’s start with the positives.

I noted that many users appreciate how intuitive the Aloha POS interface is. This user-friendliness helps speed up the training process for new employees, which is a clear advantage in fast-paced restaurant environments where time is money.

One aspect of Aloha POS that users consistently praise is its comprehensive reporting and analytics capabilities. Restaurant management finds the sales and labor cost reports particularly valuable. Another plus for busy restaurateurs is that they can access these reports remotely so they can stay on top of business performance even when they’re away from the restaurant.

And for complete transparency, here are some of the negatives.

One of the most significant issues highlighted is outages on the platform — this can prove costly if you can’t perform transactions.

The other recurring issue I noticed was the “ease of use” problem highlighted earlier in this Aloha POS review. Some users report that the screen flow can be challenging, and you have to click too many buttons to finalize an order or transaction. While not a deal-breaker, this can be a pain if you operate a busy restaurant.

Awards Achieved

Aloha POS has won several awards. In 2019 and 2020, SoftwareReviews named Aloha POS a Data Quadrant Award Winner for its food and beverage point-of-sale (POS) systems. In 2020, SoftwareReviews named Aloha POS Emotional Footprint Award Winner.

Aloha POS System Case Studies

Gaucho & M Restaurants

Rare Restaurants, the parent company of the renowned M Restaurants and Gaucho, has found a reliable and efficient technology partner in Aloha POS. Under the leadership of CEO Martin Williams, Rare Restaurants implemented Aloha POS across all their M Restaurant locations. The implementation process was managed to the highest standards, resulting in a smooth transition and minimal disruption to daily operations.

One of the standout features of Aloha POS for Rare Restaurants has been its ability to integrate with various solutions across the group. From loyalty programs to stock management. Rare Restaurants using this business software also now have a centralized view of their operations to help them make data-driven decisions and optimize their processes.

Rare Restaurants can focus on delivering exceptional guest experiences, knowing that their technology infrastructure is in good hands. The successful implementation of Aloha POS has shown how well it can perform in a high-end, multi-location restaurant setting.

Cafe Zupas

Cafe Zupas, a growing chain of fast-casual restaurants, adopted Aloha POS to manage their point of sale and employee time tracking. 

Aloha POS serves as the central point of sale and time clock system for all Cafe Zupas locations. The system’s user-friendly interface has made it easy to train new employees and ensures the onboarding process runs smoothly, reducing the time and resources needed for staff training. This ease of use also translates to a faster checkout experience, allowing Cafe Zupas to serve more customers efficiently.

Operating partner Tim Eddington said the system’s reporting feature had been another great benefit to Cafe Zupas. The system provides detailed insights into sales numbers, enabling the company to identify trends, make data-driven decisions, and optimize its menu offerings. For example, through the reprint feature, Cafe Zupas identified an issue with drink sales and developed a targeted plan to increase them, directly contributing to its bottom line.

While Cafe Zupas employees did mention that the hardware associated with Aloha POS can be somewhat clunky, the system’s overall performance and benefits outweighed this minor drawback.

How Does Aloha Compare to Other POS Systems?

There are plenty of options for restaurant POS systems. Let’s compare Aloha against a couple of its more popular competitors. These are brief comparisons; for full reviews, check out our detailed analysis of each one.

Aloha vs. Toast POS

Though Aloha has many advantages as a POS system, Toast is our #1 choice. It offers an extremely user-friendly, modern experience and has now become the industry standard.

While Aloha remains a solid choice for established restaurants with complex requirements, Toast’s forward-thinking approach, comprehensive feature set, and user-friendly design make it the preferred option for many in the industry, particularly for new and growing restaurants.

For more details, you can find our full review of Toast POS here.

Aloha vs. Square POS

Square POS is another popular choice for restaurants, particularly for smaller businesses and those with simpler needs. While Aloha offers a wide range of features and customization options, Square takes a more streamlined approach, focusing on ease of use and affordability.

One of Square’s main advantages is its simple, transparent pricing structure. With no long-term contracts and a straightforward percentage-based fee for transactions, Square is an attractive option for restaurants looking to avoid complex pricing plans and hidden costs.

One area where Aloha has an advantage over Square is its ability to handle high-volume operations and complex restaurant setups. This makes it better suited for larger restaurants with multiple stations.

Read our full Square Review Here.

Our Verdict

There are definitely some strong points associated with Aloha POS; they have the restaurant business down. Like Micros, it’s one of the industry’s biggest players, and they have years behind the system’s impressive list of features.

As Aloha POS is backed by one of the largest payment technology companies in the United States, there will always be some apparent benefits associated with this platform. They’ve adapted to the times by offering a cloud-based solution with tableside ordering, QR code payments, and remote reporting, plus, there is an extensive list of integrations that can take your restaurant operations to the next level and help you expand locations.

Aloha fits in the medium to large enterprise category. They provide many tools you need to provide great service and grow your business during these crazy times, but at what cost? When considering the overall price of software licenses, hardware, credit card fees, and ongoing support, the price might be hard to swallow.

In my opinion, Aloha is a solution for companies that have very specific needs and requirements, that want to work with an industry leader, and can afford it. However, you still should weigh the positives and negatives of working with a large “corporation.” The bottom line is if you need a robust solution and the cost isn’t a factor, then definitely check them out.

If you want to try out Aloha Essentials POS, contact their team directly for a demo. Always ensure that you seek clarification about costs and terms before you make any financial commitments.

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Specification: Aloha POS Review

Best For

Restaurants, Quick Service, Full Service, Bars

Business Size

Medium, Large

POS Type

Cloud, Windows

Software Type

Cloud/SaaS, On Premise (Windows)

Free Trial

Demo Only

Merchant Services

In-House Only

Pricing Model

Monthly Payment, Contract

Price Range

$$$$-$$$$$

Photos: Aloha POS Review

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