In the fast-paced food truck business, taking customer payments quickly can be the difference between a successful trading day and a squandered one. Relying on traditional cash registers to take these payments at pace can sometimes result in mechanical faults, which end up costing you important sales.
With modern innovations to POS in the hospitality sector, you may be wondering, what is the best POS system for my food truck? There are plenty of brilliant ones, but only you can choose the option which best suits your business. Sit tight as we explore each option, from TouchBistro to Square POS and Toast POS. We compare POS systems to help you take faster payments and optimise daily business operations.
What is a POS system for a food truck?
Great question. The hospitality buzz-word POS stands for a point of sale (or POS) system. A POS system for a food truck is specially designed to accommodate the speed and accuracy required when taking mobile order payments from customers on-the-go.
Food truck POS system question checklist
By nature, food truck POS systems need to be set up for payment flexibility. Beyond flexibility and affordability, here’s what you should consider before you decide on the best POS system for your food truck:
(Image credit: Pexels)
Is it able to process multiple payment types…
Debit, credit, cash, gift card, refunds, split group payments, tipping, online ordering — food truck POS systems really do have to be prepared for any type of transaction. When customer cravings strike, you want to be able to deliver the moment of lip-smacking goodness they’ve been waiting for, not be fumbling with the card machine error code.
…and accept different currencies?
Tourists often flock to food trucks for a taste of authentic local food, meaning your POS provider needs to empower you by being ready to accept a diverse range of currencies.
Can it give me profitable insight into my customer data?
Building a relationship with your regulars encourages word-of-mouth marketing, and can lead to a significant increase in sales.
A quality POS system will summarise customer spending behaviour into helpful reports, and allow you to see who could benefit from regular rewards from a customer loyalty scheme. It may even help you build other repeat orders from would-be one-off customers.
For example, if you set your POS system to flag up when a customer spends X amount, and notice a local business has placed a large lunch order, offering them a subscription discount may lead to a consistent spike in weekly sales.
Will it help me manage my inventory?
Fortunately, alerts for low product levels and notifications for stock rotation are common in hospitality POS software. Whichever POS provider you choose, make sure they offer helpful inventory features to give your food truck a competitive edge.
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Do I actually have space for it?
With less space than most commercial kitchens, ensuring the POS hardware your provider offers actually fits comfortably in your food truck is a must.
Most food truck POS providers offer mobile POS systems that can be used across phones, tablets and desktop devices. This is especially helpful if you’re used to using an iPad POS system, or have multiple food trucks you serve from and move between.
How easy is it to set up, and how much follow-up support do I get?
When you shift truck locations regularly, stay on your feet in a small workspace, and switch between every role from line cook to business owner, the last thing you need is a complicated setup process. Your POS system should be straightforward to get started with, and even easier to teach to colleagues.
Check to see if your POS provider has reliable customer support (available as and when you’ll need it in your time zone), online training guides for reference, or account management. Most POS companies have one or a combination of these things as standard, plus options such as website live chat or in-app support.
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Will it work offline?
There are few things more frustrating than spending the day preparing for a sales rush, only to be defeated by an internet outage at the last second. Luckily, with a POS offline mode from popular POS providers like Lightspeed POS, Erply POS and more, weak network connection is one less thing to be concerned about.
POS offline mode empowers your team to keep taking safe, secure customer payments, even when your internet connection is weak or completely down.
What else can it do for my business?
Food truck POS systems offer all kinds of helpful and proactive business features you might not have even thought of. One of our favourites is the tax summary feature offered by TouchBistro POS as part of their audit reports.
How does it work? By considering the fact that you may need to charge varying sales tax amounts depending on where your food truck is parked.
Their tax summary feature collects all sales tax and location data into one helpful report, so you can watch over state, city, and local taxes accumulated. You can download this report as a CSV file for your internal reporting.
Top 5 best POS systems for food trucks
The best POS systems for food trucks support your business in securing fast transactions alongside freshly prepared street food.
They give you headspace to focus on the customer in front of you, and offer detailed insight into customer spending behaviour as well as, best-selling products, and assist with inventory management. We’ve rounded up our pick of the industry’s top five best point of sale systems for food trucks.
|POS system||Lowest monthly fee||Card rates||Free trial||Support|
|TouchBistro||$69||2.99% + 15¢||N/A – demo sign-up available||Global phone support, online videos and live workshops with step-by-step instructions|
|Lightspeed||$69||2.6% + 10¢||14 days||24-hr phone support (reduced weekend hours)|
|Toast||$0||1.8% + $0.15¢||N/A – free 15 minute demo available||Phone support, free online training guides for staff, and expert live-training available|
|Erply||$19||1.99% + 25¢||60 days||Global phone support and email, plus online resources|
|Square||$0||2.6% + 10¢||N/A||Phone and chat support|
Toast POS system
(Image credit: Toast)
#1 – Toast review – the best all-in-one package
Smart choice for expanding businesses
Reasons to buy
+Secure offline mode+24/7 support, 365 days a year+Powerful reporting tools
Reasons to avoid
–Favours Android software over iOS–Separate online ordering subscription needed–Early contract termination fee
Toast’s restaurant POS system doubles up perfectly as a POS system for food trucks, thanks to its versatility and user-friendly interface. Being a cloud-based POS system means it’s simple for you to access and amend customer or order data confidently at any moment, without worrying about paperwork in a smaller space .
What’s particularly attractive about Toast’s POS package is that they offer everything. Pick and choose from restaurant management software, to water and shock resistant POS hardware, plus the standard POS software.
Creating a custom business POS layout is painless too thanks to intuitive programming. For extra spend, you can bundle in take out, online ordering, gift cards, customer loyalty programs and payroll management.
Their transaction fee might not be the lowest in the industry at 2.59% + $0.10 per Visa, Mastercard and Discover payment through the Toast card reader, but the quality of the POS offer certainly makes it worth it.
You can customise the POS down to daily discounts and promotions, track bar tabs and even store drink recipes for new starters.
That said, Toast POS can be complex to use initially. Make sure to read our full Toast POS review first, and take advantage of staff training and tech support if you land on them as your POS provider.
Square POS system
(Image credit: Square)
#2 – Square review – the best for flexibility
A great option for all business types
Price: $0 per month
Card rates: 2.6% + 10¢
Free trial: N/A
Support: Phone and chat
Reasons to buy
+Wide range of hardware options+Can operate in offline mode+Ideal for food start-ups and multi-channel ecommerce businesses +Easy to use staff POS interface +No contract lock-in
Reasons to avoid
–Reliable WiFi connection needed (doesn’t work with 3G)–Square for Restaurants subscription needed for bigger food truck businesses to benefit from full suite of useful POS features–No evening or weekend support without Square for Restaurants Plus subscription
If you’re new to the food business, Square POS is an excellent choice. Built full of useful features for food start-ups, you can modify and manage inventory, link to food delivery services—or other third party integrations—and easily set up a free online food ordering page with a Square for Restaurants subscription.
If your business is expanding and has more than one till or site, the Square for Restaurants subscription has plenty of handy features. Choose from self-serve ordering options, kitchen display dashboards and printing, POS menu grouping, bill-splitting, tipping, adding tax, and other features to enhance both your staff and customers’ service experience.
Square POS system helps you keep up with modern payment trends at pace: you can generate payment links to accept donations for your online shop, email campaigns, and social media or blog posts. With a long term content strategy in place, this could quickly help your business see an overall profit boost. You’ll need to pay the typical fee per transaction though, which is 1.9% for European cards and 2.9% for non-European cards with Square.
(Image credit: Future)
You can also print custom QR codes to offer queuing customers a new way to pay. This is particularly helpful as a means of taking contactless, cashless payments and complying with Covid-19 health awareness. QR codes also help save time by empowering customers to pay before food collection. If you’re short on staff, this is an especially cost-effective way to take orders.
Plus, with a free to install and use Square Point of Sale app that works across Android, iPad and iPhone devices you can secure fast payments anywhere with an internet connection. Because it’s free to use, you can also take your time testing out the app before implementing the full POS system.
One gripe with Square POS is the support available. Although the service is a quality one, Point of Sale support only includes business customer support during 9am-5pm on weekdays.
Read our full Square POS review.
Lightspeed POS system
#3 – Lightspeed review – best for bespoke solutions
Another good all-rounder, with great flexibility
Price: from £69 per month
Card rates: 2.6% + 10¢
Free trial: 14 days
Support type: 24-hr phone (excl. weekends)
Reasons to buy
+Bespoke solution+Mac-friendly+Great reporting and analytics+Till software works well offline+No minimum contract commitment
Reasons to avoid
–No Windows or Android option–Till software only compatible with iPads–Customer loyalty programme needs external software
Fully customise your food truck’s POS system with Lightspeed’s dynamic POS software. Built for integration, you can connect Lightspeed POS with your accounting software and popular food delivery services like Deliveroo or Uber Eats to encourage extra business.
Alternatively, you can set up a online food ordering page with a subscription add-on: Lightspeed Order Anywhere. Lightspeed also integrates with common card machine providers like Zettle by PayPal and SumUp so you can take payments effortlessly.
Beyond the standard offerings, we like that Lightspeed has a fee-free onboarding process and 24/7 customer support after set-up. It’s needed though, as compared to Square POS Lightspeed has a complex user design that will require dedicated staff training to get used to.
The benefit of this is being able to create bespoke menu groups, button layouts, table plans and VAT grouping. These seemingly small customizations can make operations run with even more ease, leading to smoother customer service and repeat sales. Lightspeed POS is a long term pay-off for short term training, essentially.
Watch out for the set up period if you’re in a hurry for a POS system today, though. You can’t see it in the free demo, but setting up the Back Office side of Lightspeed’s POS software is a manual, somewhat tedious task that needs to be done before you can play with the POS system.
Additionally, you’ll need to share a master food and beverage spreadsheet with Lightspeed that can take a few days to be uploaded to their system. Read our full Lightspeed POS review.
TouchBistro POS system
(Image credit: TouchBistro)
#4 – TouchBistro review – best for multisite businesses
A wise choice for offering a finer food truck dining experience
Reasons to buy
+Email, telephone and live chat customer support 24/7+Intuitive software+Streamlined iPad POS software+Accept payments offline+Data backed up to cloud on daily basis
Reasons to avoid
–EPOS app could be more responsive and user-friendly–Limited reporting features–Separate payment processing provider needed
Like Lightspeed, it’s straightforward to integrate your TouchBistro POS system with third-party food delivery services to keep your online sales soaring. TouchBistro was built for hospitality businesses of all designs, from food trucks to restaurants and bars, so they’re pretty experienced in creating POS systems that deliver fast payments alongside fresh food. Checkout their highly-rated customer service reviews for yourself.
What’s different and perhaps better, is their advanced menu and order management system. You can easily monitor cooking times, ingredient and stock levels (a low stock warning is built in), helping you better manage supplier relationships and be more precise with your food budget.
They also have superb table management features that allow you to specify everything down to the order requirements, customer gender and customer name via in-app floor view.
That’s pretty helpful for pre-placed big orders. So if you’re parked in a consistent location with dedicated picnic tables for your truck, you can offer the vibrancy of street-food alongside a first-class restaurant dining experience.
(Image credit: TouchBistro Inc)
Customer’s have the option of a self-service kiosk, with orders managed via a free TouchBistro app. Alongside this, TouchBistro have a separate reservations app and reporting app on top of the POS app, which feels a bit tedious, but could be a bonus if you prefer spreading business data across different tools.
The data visualization is certainly of solid quality and reports are easy enough to export and share, but reviews are mixed when it comes to the app’s user experience.
Like the customer experience, TouchBistro’s software is feature-rich for both back and front of house staff. Their employee management feature allows unlimited employee accounts and the ability to assign table sections to certain staff accounts too.
Managing table service this way enables you to spot issues such as staff shortages, be aware of customer allergies or intolerances early on, and track employee performance over time.
Getting a clear understanding of how much you’ll spend with TouchBistro’s POS system is tricky without speaking to them directly. Aside from their own hardware and software add-on costs, you’ll need to factor in that you pay per iPad account using the TouchBistro POS app.
And while you can pay on a monthly, quarterly or annual rotation, note that after their free trial you’ll need to commit to a 12 month subscription. We recommend reading our full TouchBistro POS review before you choose to book a POS demo.
Erply POS system
(Image credit: Erply)
#4 – Erply review – best for advanced customisation
Erply is an excellent choice for bespoke technical integrations.
Reasons to buy
+Save 20% when you pay annually+Basic Customer Relationship Management tool+Pop-up shop support+Works with Windows, Apple and Android software+API access+Extended support hours available
Reasons to avoid
–Clunkier user interface than other POS providers–Complex feature set for start-ups–Pricier than competitors
With a 60-day risk free trial, Erply POS really isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to being confident in their product.
From the start of your working day, Erply supports you with a Open and Close the Day feature which monitors who opens and closes your digital till, and compares forecasted profit to actual profit from the previous day.
Having this reminder can help you create a reactive sales strategy that promotes select menu items to make up sales, while also helping you keep an eye on any employee theft.
For speed, Erply’s POS solution also offers Quick Select Keys (QSKs). QSKs allow you to skip the usual manual product search and get to popular items for sales or ingredient information, fast.
(Image credit: Image Credit: Erply)
Their scannable barcodes help with service operations too, by saving you time on inputting long product SKUs. Other features to enhance efficiency also include Stock and Price Lookup for fuss-free inventory management, and saving common transactions as future sales orders.
One criticism of Erply POS is its somewhat dated user interface. The backend interface looks old fashioned compared to the minimalism of Square’s POS layout or Shopify’s sleek dashboards.
Beyond vanity, this could present a problem when it comes to staff training. Naturally, users are more likely to engage with software that looks similar to the responsive modern interfaces they’re used to. Read our full review of Erply POS system for more information.
How we review POS systems
(Image credit: Future)
We reviewed many different POS systems before deciding on which to feature in this guide. Our review process involves evaluating key factors, including features, ease of use, set-up, support, and of course, pricing.
All our reviews are based on hands-on experience: we trial software and materials to get a clear picture of what features are included, for example, and how easy or difficult it is to get started and use the software.
We anonymously contact user support so we can draw honest and informed conclusions about availability, knowledge, and friendliness.
Finally, pricing is gleaned from websites, but we never hesitate to go in-depth with documentation and user support to provide the clearest possible picture.
Discover more about the benefits of POS systems
Looking for more information on POS systems? Try these articles:
How to choose a POS system
How does a POS system work?
5 ways POS systems help you manage staff