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Bar POS Sytems: A Complete Guide from BinWise

November 27, 2019
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XuanThy Nguyen
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What Is A Bar POS System?

The term POS in "bar POS" stands for point of sale, which refers to the physical place where sales take place in the bar. In the past, a POS system would be a cash register, sometimes with a printer or scanner. It didn’t “know” the products’ costs and required the person operating to manually enter the purchased items’ prices.

Nowadays, with the growth of bar and restaurant technology, a POS system has advanced further to do more than simply ringing up items sold and print receipts. At its most complex, a POS system is an all-in-one purchasing and reporting software that enables you to manage every aspect of your bar business. And that's what most bar owners and operators are looking for.

Why Do Bars Need A POS System?

You can run your bar with old-fashioned cash registers or traditional pen and paper. But having a modern system can be a huge help to your business. A POS system can streamline the communication between different parts of your bar. It can cut down the time that your staff spend on entering orders and reduce transactional errors, which are deadly to your business. On top of that, some POS systems can help you monitor your liquor and track your beverage inventory.

In general, if you are the heart and soul of your business, a good POS system can be the brain. Let’s take a look at the different types of POS systems. We'll see how much they typically cost, how bar owners and operators are using them, and which POS system is great for your business.

How Much is a POS System for a Bar?

Right now, there are two types of POS systems available on the market: legacy bar POS systems and cloud-based POS systems.

For legacy models, their price is typically on the higher range. That's because they often require an expert’s physical installation and extra equipment for the initial set up. You can expect the number to be anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. And most of them tend to come with a multi-year contract.

On the other hand, cloud-based models are usually much cheaper, ranging between $50 and $500 for a monthly subscription. Most vendors even offer free lifetime software and security updates as well. If you’re opening a bar from scratch, we recommend looking for a modern, cloud-based system for budget and flexibility.

How Do You Use a Bar POS System?

A POS system is one of the most powerful tools to help ensure your bar’s success. With a system in place, you can keep track of your bar’s sales and prevent any fraud due to fake or stolen cards. Your staff can save time on completing your guests’ transactions quickly and accurately, especially with closing out tabs and doing pre-authorization of payments. This will also reduce any risks of having unpaid tabs at the end of the night.

On top of that, an all-in-one POS system can even help monitor and improve your liquor inventory control to avoid potential inefficiencies. Think over-pouring, unauthorized comps, and even employee theft. Some systems alert you when your stock is running low so you can take necessary actions. Or they provide detailed reports on your bar’s performance to help increase your profit margins.

To learn more about what your bar’s par level inventory is and how to set it, read our previous blog post “Setting Par Level Inventory for Your Bar.”

How POS Systems Are Installed

Legacy POS systems require physical installation with the help of experts. That means maintenance and updates need to be done manually from time to time as well. On top of that, they sometimes require specific equipment to work with.

On the other hand, cloud-based POS systems have a simpler installation and updating process as everything is done online. You can download the system’s compatible version to your mobile device or access it using a web browser. Then start using it right away after logging in to your account.

What Is the Best POS System for a Bar?

With so many options available on the market, how do you know which one is the best for your bar? When considering which software to purchase, make sure that it would offer the following features.

Fully Customizable To Fit Your Bar’s Needs

It is extremely important to have a POS system that is easy to use and fully customizable. That's because your bar’s operation can change based on various factors. Your staff shouldn’t be struggling to find a tequila substitute for margaritas on a busy night. Because your POS should make knowing what you need easy.

Additionally, the system needs to be designed to handle a large volume of orders at once. No one has time to waste in a fast-paced environment like a bar. Especially during a big game night or a Happy Hour rush.

Mobile and Contactless Integration

Nowadays, it is very important for your bar staff and bartenders to spend time interacting with your guests. That's how your service is being evaluated. And with a mobile POS, your staff is not stuck behind the bar entering orders. They can chat with guests and help them place the perfect order. This is also a great way for them to increase check size (by making recommendations and upselling premium liquor) and increase tips.

Easy Menu Management

There will be multiple special occasions that your bar must carry menu specials for, such as Game Day Specials or Happy Hour Specials. Therefore, we recommend looking at cloud-based systems that can keep up with all the special occasions and allow you to adjust your menu quickly.

Final Thoughts About Bar Point of Sale Systems

Having a POS system is a great way to up your game in bar management. It can help you increase your profit margins and keep track of your bar’s performance quicker than just using a pen and paper. However, with so many options on the market, it is important to take your time and evaluate your bar’s needs before making a decision. Like every purchase you make for your business, always consider if it would fit your bar’s vision first. And don’t hesitate to discuss it with your staff for their opinions as well.

If you find this article helpful, contact us to learn more about BinWise Pro, a cloud-based beverage inventory management system. BinWise Pro comes with seamless integration with 50+ POS systems. Schedule a free demo with us to learn how the system can help you save time, eliminate errors, and grow your bottom line.