How much will implementing a Point of Sale (POS) system cost your restaurant business?

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A Point of Sale (POS) system is critical for any restaurant and should be treated as one of the most important investments when starting a restaurant business.

Yet, with the wide range of options for POS systems, there’s now no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “how much does it cost to implement a POS system for your restaurant?”

There are cloud-based POS systems that aren’t tied to any hardware, making them more affordable options. On the other side of the spectrum, there are also advanced hardware-based POS systems that are designed for reliability and scalability. 

Meaning, ultimately, how much you should spend on a POS system will depend on your restaurant business’s size, location, target market, and other factors, and choosing the best one for your restaurant can be easier said than done.

With that being said, in this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about investing in a POS system, including but not limited to:

  • Different types of POS systems and their typical price ranges
  • Different pricing models for POS systems
  • Factors that constitute a POS system’s price
  • How to evaluate your restaurant’s needs in choosing the ideal POS system

Without further ado, let us begin this article from the basics: what are the different types of POS systems?


Different Types of POS

Despite the wide variety of POS systems available in the market, we can differentiate them into just three big categories:

  1. mPOS

mPOS stands for mobile POS, and as the name suggests, this type of POS runs as a mobile app on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. You use your own mobile device, and in many cases, the mPOS app itself is free, and you’ll only need to pay a payment processing fee per transaction. This model may or may not be more cost-effective, depending on the frequency and size of the transactions in your restaurant.

In practice, this mobile device will function as the POS terminal (cashier machine) that operates wirelessly over Wi-Fi. Typically they are relatively affordable, although not as affordable as cloud-based POS systems that don’t offer any hardware tie-in, but the main advantage of the mPOS system is its portability.

Many mPOS providers will send you a credit card reader (that you can attach to the smartphone or tablet) for free, and most will work with a portable printer (for your receipts.) 


Ideal for: 

  • Smaller restaurants do not manage a lot of inventory.
  • Food trucks and other types of mobile restaurants, due to the mPOS’s portability and the ability to run wireless


  1. Cloud-based POS

Cloud-based POS systems have been really popular in recent years, especially thanks to their cost-effectiveness.      

With a cloud-based POS system, the POS software/application is delivered over the cloud, and you can use your own device (PC, laptop, tablet, or even mobile device),  so it’s more versatile than an mPOS. 

Another key characteristic of a cloud-based POS is that all data is stored in the cloud, so you can easily access and monitor your transactions in real time on any device. This will also make it easier if you need to switch to another device. 

Most cloud-based POS systems are offered with a recurring subscription model. Many are offered at a (very) affordable price, and some are open-sourced and free. However, there are also those offered at a premium price. 


Ideal for:

  • Businesses wanting to access data (sales, inventory, etc.) anytime and from anywhere
  • Restaurants wanting to save on initial costs (i.e., lower hardware costs)
  • Restaurants who’d like more versatility in their day-to-day operations
  1. Traditional (hardware-based) POS

This type of POS system offers a package of hardware and software solutions, and in some cases, the provider may also allow you to create a custom combination of hardware, payment processing system, and software features of your choice. 

Typically this type of POS system would require the highest upfront investment, but you’ll also get the most freedom in getting the best possible solution according to your needs. 


Ideal for:

  • Restaurants that have the funds for a long-term investment
  • Restaurants that need custom-tailored features or peripherals (i.e., custom kitchen printers, handheld inventory devices, etc.)
  • Restaurants that need full-service POS consulting (which may be provided by these vendors.)


POS Systems: What Constitute Their Prices

As you can see from the different types of POS above, POS systems consist of 2 main components: software and hardware. However, when it comes to cost, there can also be additional factors to consider depending on the type of POS systems and custom features you’d like to implement.

Below, we will discuss these different cost components in greater detail:

  1. Software cost

There are open-source POS software solutions that are available for totally free (although the restaurant POS integration vendor may charge transaction fees or other fees.) On the other hand, there are POS systems that charge more than $200/month for software services alone. 

We can categorize POS software solutions into three major types, each with different costs:

  1. Cloud software. The POS software is delivered over the cloud and is not installed on on-premises devices. Typically cloud POS software follows the SaaS subscription model, so you pay a (relatively small) monthly subscription fee, which can be as low as under $5/month.
  2. On-premises software. The POS software is hosted on an on-premise device or hosted on a local server. Typically offered with a one-time fee that is relatively expensive or bundled with a POS hardware solution.
  3. Hybrid software. As you might have guessed, this type of POS software provides a combined experience between a cloud-based application and on-premise software.                   

On-premises solutions typically offer higher initial costs, but you’ll also get more versatility in using different types of hardware and additional peripherals.

Nowadays, however, many restaurants prefer the versatility and cost-effectiveness of cloud-based solutions, especially for smaller and startup restaurants.

Thus, we can summarize that the software aspect of the POS system could cost between $0 to upwards of $300/month.


  1. Hardware cost

In the context of POS systems, any device you use to facilitate transactions in the restaurant, from taking orders to updating inventory to processing payments.  

Even if you opt to use a cloud-based or software-only POS system, you’ll need to at least invest in a tablet or smartphone, but most restaurants typically require the following pieces of hardware:

  • Credit card reader. There are standalone card readers, but there are also portable ones that attach to smartphones or tablets. Costs between $20-$50 per device.
  • Tablet or smartphone. Pretty self-explanatory, starting from below $100/device.
  • Kiosk hardware. Not mandatory, starting from $200 to $700.
  • Tablet stand. For setups that use tablets as cashiers or input devices on guests’ tables. Starting from $50.
  • Receipt printer.  May need dedicated printers for the kitchen and for guests’ receipts. Starting from $35.
  • Cash drawer. From under $10 to above $200.
  • Terminal POS or touchscreen. Starting from $250 to above $1,000
  • Digital menu board. Not mandatory, depending on the type of restaurant you run. Starting from $200 to above $2,000.

Depending on the type of restaurant you open, you may decide to process payments by the table or let your guests order from cashiers, which may dramatically alter your hardware setup. Also, if your restaurant has multiple chains, you will need to implement the POS hardware across multiple locations, which may require you to invest in more cost-effective setups.

Below, we’ll share rough guidelines for the average POS hardware costs based on the size of your restaurant:

  • Food truck/startup/fast food restaurant: 
    • Tablet/smartphone
    • Card reader
      • Total: ±$600
  • Small established restaurant:
    • Tablet
    • Card reader
    • Receipt printer
    • Cash drawer
      • Total: ±$1,000
  • Medium-sized restaurant:
    • 2 tablets
    • 2 card readers
    • Receipt printer
    • Cash drawers
      • Total: ±$1,400 
  • Large restaurant:
    • 3 terminal POS systems
    • 3 card readers
    • 3 receipt printers
      • Total: ±$5,000

When weighing

  1. Additional cost components

In addition to costs related to hardware and software, different POS vendors may involve other fees and costs, including: 

  • Payment processing fee. The POS vendor may charge a fee to process payment transactions, especially credit card transactions. In the US, the standard credit card processing fee is around 2.5%.
  • Installation fee. The POS vendor may charge a fee for installation assistance per location, which can easily inflate if you have multiple locations for your restaurants. Additional hardware installed in more locations (i.e., additional card readers or receipt printers) will also cost you more. 
  • User accounts. Some POS vendors may require you to pay more for additional logins for more employees, for example, if you’d like multiple employees to monitor transactions and inventory. Before committing to a plan, confirm how many users you’ll need to access the POS software at any given time, and check whether the plan limits the number of employee accounts for individual plans.
  • Integrations. The POS vendors may charge extra for integrations with eCommerce or CRM platforms, among other solutions. If you need the POS to integrate with your existing applications or solutions, make sure to check with the POS vendor whether there are any additional integration costs. For example, the popular online ordering solution App2Food offers integration with many popular restaurant POS systems for a small monthly fee.
  • Custom and additional features. Different POS vendors may offer additional features like inventory management, analytics/reports, restaurant marketing tools, and referral/restaurant loyalty management for extra fees. Some vendors may also offer the ability to add custom features according to your restaurant’s unique needs (of course, for a fee.)

Wrapping Up 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how much implementing a POS system will cost you, in general, we can determine a POS system’s cost by weighing these things:


  1. Hardware cost. Even if you’re considering a software-only (i.e., cloud-based) POS system, you’ll still need to invest in some hardware, at least a smartphone. The bigger the scale of your restaurant and the number of locations you have, the more you’ll need to spend on hardware devices. 
  2. Software cost. You’ll either need to pay a one-time fee or a recurring subscription fee to use the POS system. 
  3. Additional features. You may need to pay extra for additional and/or custom features on the software.
  4. Quantity/size. Larger restaurants or multiple restaurant locations may require you to invest in more hardware devices and user licenses, which will translate into higher overall costs.

With so many different POS vendor options available in the market, you have the option to invest in a POS system that is completely tailored to your restaurant’s exact needs. So, take your time to figure out your option, and make sure you really understand your needs and requirements before committing to a POS vendor. 

While finding the right POS system for your restaurant can be quite a daunting process, the tips we have shared above should provide you with a solid knowledge into how much you should spend when implementing a POS system.