- Extremely easy to use
- Build custom menus with categories and different features
- Dedicated restaurant-specific hardware
- Niche specifications for certain types of restaurants
- Strong data reporting features
- Doesn't work with iOS devices
- No integrated payment processing
- Lacks support options
- No barcode setup
Toast is a well-respected US-based restaurant POS startup. It's used by thousands of businesses, and is valued at a whopping $1.4 billion as of a late-2018 funding round. But it isn't our favorite restaurant POS provider on the market. That honor goes to Square POS.
Toast POS operates on the Android operating system, and isn't available on iOS.
While Toast performs well with its admirable till, stock management, and marketing tools, it is relatively expensive. What's more, we really don't think its help and customer support options cut the mustard. They vary by price – something we're never keen on – and Toast doesn't offer email or live chat support at all. Plus, it doesn't automatically backup your data.
Before committing to Toast, we'd recommend you take a look at some other providers on the market. The easiest way to do so is by using our quick price comparison tool, which thousands of other businesses have used to figure out their pricing options. You'll receive obligation-free quotes tailored to your business's needs within minutes.
Toast POS Pricing
The Toast software service starts with the aptly titled Starter plan – but pricing gets complicated immediately, because you'll have two different options for how you pay with Starter.
You can pick the popular Pay-as-you-go Starter plan, which costs nothing upfront but charges 2.99% + 15¢ for all transactions — you'll get both a software subscription and a Toast Starter Kit Hardware Bundle for free, though you'll still pay the taxes and shipping for the hardware.
You can also get the Standard Starter Plan. This drops the transaction fees down to 2.49% + 15¢ per transaction, but you'll pay $799 upfront followed by $69 per month in order to pay for the Starter Kit, which includes software, a POS hardware terminal, Tap payment device, router, and support.
Note: Prices updated November 2021
Toast also offers two more software packages: Essential and Growth. The Essentials plan starts at $165 per month for a subscription that includes one hardware terminal, and brings some pretty important features. For example, online ordering and delivery are included, rather than being an optional add-on. The Toast takeout app is also included to help manage your takeout sales.
The Growth plan costs $272 per month for a software subscription with one hardware terminal, and brings gift cards, customer loyalty programs, and email marketing to your restaurant POS system. If you sign up for the Essential or Growth plan, you'll receive custom pricing on the Restaurant Grade hardware package, meaning you could save a small chunk of money upfront.
Toast also charges payment processing fees, although it doesn't clarify what they are for the Essentials or Growth plans. In early 2021, Toast's fees were 2.49% + 15 cents for card-present transactions and 3.5% + 15 cents for card-not-present transactions — fairly pricey for the POS industry. It has since lowered its fees for the Starter plan, and likely for the other plans as well. The fees are comparable to Square‘s 2.6% + 10¢ or 3.5% + 15¢ fees, although Square has a bonus of not including any monthly subscription fees at all.
Toast doesn't disclose its hardware prices for users, saying instead that it has “flexible payment options available, including payment as a percentage of your sales or fixed monthly payment.” Nor does it disclose the prices for hardware products sold separately. This might sound fishy but, perhaps regrettably, it's becoming increasingly standard practice throughout the POS industry.
For more specifics on the monthly, per terminal cost of a version of Toast POS that's tailored to you, you'll have to contact Toast for a custom quote. While you're at it, we'd recommend joining the thousands of businesses that have used our quick price comparison tool to get the same quotes from other leading POS vendors available today.
One-time $799 fee, plus $69/mo
2.99% + $0.15
2.49% + $0.15
3.5% + $0.15
3.5% + $0.15
Toast is a great restaurant POS, but it isn't the only service worth considering. All POS services offer your business something different, so it’s important you identify which ones will cater to your needs, and gather quotes from these providers to compare. We appreciate this can be time-consuming, so we created this easy-to-use custom-built tool to do that hard work for you! Alternatively, you can read on or watch this quick explainer video to hear about other systems that might be right for your business.
Square is our favorite POS provider for restaurants. There are no monthly fees to pay, only transaction fees on the stuff you sell. Square has all the features restaurants need to get started, and has payment processing built right into the POS – saving you doing two separate but essential jobs.
What's more, Square has a range of stylish hardware options for restaurateurs like yourself to choose from, including contactless card readers, touchscreen payment terminals, and tablet stands.
ShopKeep, on the other hand, isn't quite as well-rounded as Square, but has some excellent and unique marketing features. Its customer marketing features allow for receipt customization, and the ability to easily communicate with previous customers through MailChimp. ShopKeep isn't the cheapest POS on the market, with plans starting at $49 per month, but it has all the features that your restaurant needs to get off the ground.
Here's a comparison table of these three restaurant POS services:
Tech.co rating for restaurants
Score out of 5 based on Tech.co's independent market research.
Tech.co's verdict to help you identify the most suitable choice for your restaurant
The typical lowest starting price. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Is there a version of the software made specifically for iPad use?
Is there a version of the software made specifically for Android tablet use?
BEST FOR RESTAURANTS
Smaller, quick-service businesses, due to cost-effective pricing, strong brand recognition and support.
Large or growing businesses that want easy set-ups and training
Helpful features for kitchen and serving staff
Chain restaurants that want to build great customer relationships
Best for small restaurants
Businesses not looking to reuse or rely on iPads
Restaurants looking to expand into online ordering and deliveries
Restaurants looking to integrate marketing and accounting tools.
Restaurants that need to onboard new staff quickly
Businesses without existing software or hardware.
Free (but transaction fees apply)
$39 per month
$69 per month
Restaurant POS package costs $999 or $72 per month. Also works with a variety of third-party peripherals.
Sold separately but works with lots of third-party devices
Sells a range of third-party hardware devices from payment terminals to barcode scanners and cash drawers.
Sells a range of proprietary hardware including tableside ordering tablets. Limited time offer for January 2022: get up to $10k of free hardware!
Offers a full hardware suite for $799 but custom pricing is available on more expensive software tiers
Sells a range of proprietary hardware devices from handheld tableside tablets to full POS terminals.
Offers kits for iPads, MacOS devices, Windows PCs but all are $POA.
Sells $899 starter kit that includes iPad, cash drawer, printer, portable card reader.
Leases you a printer, terminal, card reader, and cash drawer on two or three year contract.
Tableside Order Management
Toast enables servers to accept orders from customers and relay them to kitchen workers, all while still at the table. Once the meal is ready in the kitchen, the server will receive a notification on their tablet, increasing efficiency. When customers are ready to pay, the server can then take tableside payments, with EMV card processing supported, as well as Samsung Pay.
Toast also includes a “Guest Feedback” feature, which lets the software collect customer feedback. These tableside management features are all fairly standard for a POS system, though Samsung Pay isn't always supported.
Toast's management software lets managers easily parse the costs for labor and product costs, factoring in fixed overhead costs as well for a unified view of total revenue. Meals and ingredient costs can also be separated, for an inside look at which types of sales offer the best cost-benefit.
Cost management is imperative for any successful business, and if you’re looking to monitor costs through your POS, we’d advise you ensure you’re getting the right POS for your business in the first place. Installing a new system can be costly and time consuming, and getting it wrong can be hectic. That’s why we recommend collecting as many quotes as possible that suit your business needs – and we’ve created this custom-built tool to allow you to do just that. It only takes a minute, but could save your business a lot.
Reporting & Analytics
Spot trends and track the most vital stats through Toast's POS reporting abilities. A Location Overview offers a birds-eye view of net sales or total employee costs, and can be viewed across all locations or broken down individually. Sales summaries can be produced across any time period, and areas for improvement can be identified across a location's product mix.
Toast's reporting features are thorough and on par with the best reporting from other top POS systems, including Shopify, Talech, and Revel.
Toast also supports an online ordering option, in the form of a public-facing website that guests can use to place their orders using a menu updated in real time.
Users can save their profiles and credit card information, while the interface connects to Toast's delivery dispatch feature, letting your employees deliver the order if needed. The online site can be tailored to your restaurant's branding, too.
Gift card features and loyalty programs are supported as well, whether the user is present in person or online.
Menus can be updated from any device logged into the Toast POS software, including terminals and smartphones. The cloud-based software will be constantly updated in real-time, making sure that servers and kitchen workers remain in sync regardless of which deals might be starting or what ingredients might be temporarily out.
Toast has exceptional inventory management tools. In fact, according to our research, Toast's inventory management makes it truly stand out from its restaurant-specific competitors.
Toast's platform lets restauranteurs track the cost of each ingredient. This means that you can see exactly where your money is going and improve efficiency. It also helps your staff ensure consistent portion size and account for any wastage. This is the kind of feature that you only get with Toast, rather than non-restaurant-specific POS platforms.
Plus, Toast automatically updates your inventory, meaning that there's no data export needed — helping you save money and time instantly.
Toast offers email marketing features integrated directly into its POS systems. Customers can enter their email for a virtual receipt when checking out, building an email list that can be used for automated campaigns centered on guests' histories.
Loyalty programs can also be created through Toast, with customizable rewards offered using a points-based system. Gift cards can also be supported with the right add-on, whether physical, branded gift cards or a digital version.
Since employees clock in and out, their hours are tracked automatically, including both regular and overtime pay. However, there's another added benefit to logging this data: Weekly, monthly or even annual reports can be compiled automatically, offering insights into employee life-cycles and performance.
Toast Now is an entirely virtual service with no upfront costs. It supports online ordering, takeout, gift cards, and contactless delivery – all functions that restaurants are eager to adapt in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns.
The service is free for the first three months, though virtual payment processing fees continue to apply: 3.5% + $0.15 for Visa, Mastercard, and Discover, and 3.89% + $0.15 for AmEx. Businesses can easily try it out, even if they aren't Toast POS customers. After the first three months, the digital ordering feature will cost $50/month, while the gift card feature will cost $25/month.
Toast offers a suite of team management features, allowing businesses to create one profile for each employee. Employees can clock in and clock out through the POS software, and payroll will automatically log their hours worked, saving managers the manual labor. Cash and credit card tips earnings are factored in as well. It's a comprehensive range of employee management features that beats some other restaurant POS systems like Shopkeep and Cake, although Shopify and Vend are even better.
Toast has also stepped up to address the biggest challenge facing its customers today: The novel coronavirus pandemic. In addition to a new coronavirus resource center, Toast has announced support for Rally for Restaurants, a grassroots initiative to encourage more takeout orders through social media posts tagged with #RallyforRestaurants. For each post, Toast will donate one dollar to organizations supporting the restaurant community, up to maximum of $250,000.
Case Study: Odd Duck and Toast Go
Just how useful is the Toast POS? Odd Duck, an Austin, TX-based food-truck-turned-restaurant, offers a great example. In this four minute video, they explain how adapting to use Toast Go handheld devices directly helped them make an extra $500,000 in annual sales.
Toast offers a hardware range that includes:
- Toast Tap for payments
- Guest-facing displays
- A kitchen display screen
- Hand-held tablets
- Assorted accessories — receipt printers, routers, wireless access points
The displays can be swiveled and bent, while the card readers accept tapped cards as well as inserted or swiped ones. In other words, Toast takes its hardware seriously.
Toast will sell you everything as a bundle, or as separate items. Toast doesn't currently list prices (though its bundles started at $899 as recently as February 2021). You can install the hardware yourself, or have Toast do it for you at a cost of $499.
Toast also doesn't disclose how much each of the items costs on its own. Ultimately, you'll have to get in touch with its sales team to find out how much this will cost your business.
Restaurant Self-Ordering Kiosk
The Toast Kiosk allows guests to choose exactly what they want to eat on a large touchscreen display.
This means the whole process, from order to collection, is streamlined and completely contactless. Wait times are reduced, and staff productivity goes up. Plus, it's likely that your check size will increase, as customers can be easily enticed into upselling their own orders.
Toast Go 2
The Toast Go 2 is designed to help your staff offer a full POS experience at tableside.
It's easily handheld and offers a full touchscreen interface, with support for swiped, tapped, or keyed-in transactions. Plus, it'll completely integrate with any kitchen display equipment you have, notifying servers when food is ready to roll.
What's more, it's spill and drop-proof, and has a 24-hour battery life – twice as long as an iPad, and three times longer than the Clover Flex.
The Toast Flex is a touchscreen terminal which runs on the Android operating system.
You'll find everything you need to start taking and managing contactless and keyed-in transactions with ease. It has a large interface for you and your servers, as well as a convenient side-mounted card reader. The inconspicuous design also means it shouldn't disrupt your restaurant's decor too much.
The Toast Flex comes with a handy receipt printer, and can swivel and tilt for easy operation. It's also waterproof, and can be set up in less than 30 minutes, according to Toast.
Toast Flex for Kitchen
Toast also makes a Flex screen for use in your kitchen.
The kitchen display instantly shows orders to your kitchen staff the moment they are taken by your servers. This means you can get orders filled quicker and more accurately than using the old-fashioned pen-and-paper setup you might be used to.
The Flex for Kitchen can be mounted on a surface or on a wall in the kitchen, freeing up valuable counter space for your chefs.
Toast Flex for Guest
The Flex for Guest gives your customers an 8-inch screen to show what they've ordered, and what they need to pay.
A big, simple display can help eliminate errors by showing your customers exactly what they've ordered on your system – your customers won't need to fret about whether your servers took down their coffee order with soy milk rather than oat milk, for example.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Toast supports a wide range of third-party integrations, in order to make the Toast POS a one-stop-shop for all of a manager's needs.
If your restaurant already relies on KitchenSync for online bookkeeping services, for instance, or handles local deliveries through GrubHub, employees and managers can download an additional integration in order to continue benefiting from these tried-and-true services while upgrading to Toast.
You can find the full list of integrations online, but here are a few examples of popular options:
- Compeat — Gain business insights without leaving the Toast POS interface
- PeachWorks — This suite of apps streamlines back-office features like inventory and scheduling
- CrunchTime — Manage labor, inventory, and menus, while finding new ways to cut food costs
- PayTronix — Simplify the ordering process for customers
- Craftable — Streamline ordering, automate inventory, and cut down on manual checks
- GrubHub — Fulfill GrubHub orders from within the Toast POS
- KitchenSync — Manage your bookkeeping and payroll services within the Toast POS
Toast also offers add-ons beyond its basic POS software. Consider which ones will be essential for your business – each add-on represents an additional monthly charge, so make sure you need it before you sign up.
- Online Ordering – An easy way to let customers order online for in-person pickup
- Delivery Services – Accept online or phone orders, with delivery fulfilment through an on-demand network of local drivers
- Loyalty Programs – Operate an integrated rewards program to encourage repeat visits
- Gift Cards – Sell, track, and manage both physical and digital gift cards
Toast POS support is available 24/7 in the US, both over the phone and through an online portal that can connect users with live representatives.
Toast offers an online knowledge database that's free for all, and also provides paying users with a series of online learning courses it has dubbed “Toast University.” Its website also has a “status” section which users can refer to if they need to confirm a bug or temporary lack of function in services, including the website, order processing, support line, and more.
Installations can be remote, with free live phone support, or in-person, with experts available to lead a team through software installation and staff training. In-person guided installation starts at $499.
Support & Training
Phone: (617) 682-0225
Phone support 24/7
Online knowledge center
Online learning courses
However, here at Tech.co, we think you can do better. Toast is too expensive, and lacks the help and support options we'd expect from a class-leading POS provider these days.
Toast's hardware is nice, but it only works with Android devices, and it can't atone for the provider's downsides.
We'd recommend taking a look at the rest of the market before making your final decision. You've come this far, so we know you're serious about finding the right POS. You can use our quick and easy comparison tool to receive obligation-free quotes from leading POS suppliers, tailored specifically for your needs.
Toast typically creates a local LAN network for each client. Once set up, devices including terminals, printers, and card readers can all connect to this network, limiting the likelihood of a dropped internet connection.
Samsung Pay is supported as well for all Toast POS devices, with no need for any additional integrations.
However, just because your company uses Toast POS does not automatically make the entire company PCI compliant – it just ensures that the payments processed through the Toast software are in compliance.
Are you ready to take the next steps towards a great POS system for your business? To get started collecting custom prices today, take a minute now to fill out Tech.co's quick POS quotes form. Thousands of other businesses used this form last year alone in order to compare providers and save money, and you could too! Just answer a few quick questions, and you can potentially save yourself a lot of stress and frustration.
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