Point of Sale (POS) terminals were the first digital technologies to be adopted by the casual dining industry, back in the 1980s. When they came out, they were widely recognized as a major innovation that was set to change the face of our industry. However, even as POS terminals have become ubiquitous over the decades, the technology behind them largely remains the same.

But this is now changing—permanently. The POS model is evolving at a fundamental level and it’s important for you to understand that. Otherwise, you are likely to be stuck with an expensive piece of technology that is obsolete and prevents your concept from achieving its full growth potential. Let’s spend a few minutes to understand why this evolution is happening and what you can do to future-proof your restaurant.

Key Trends

There are four key trends that are driving this change and are responsible for its acceleration.

Decline of the PC & emergence of mobile – Most legacy POS systems have a dated, Microsoft platform at the core. In the late ‘80s PCs were the only viable platform but that is not the case anymore. The dated design makes these POS systems bulky, static, and needing wired power. Mobile platforms can untether the classical POS, make them low cost, more secure, and highly flexible. They eliminate the need for staff to constantly journey to the terminals to use them.

Increasing labor costs – Labor is getting more expensive and harder to retain across the developed world.This is a result of slower low-skilled immigration, increasing minimum wages, and emergence of competitive ‘gig economy’ options like Uber and Lyft. The flexible hours, controlled environment, and increased control of these options can be very attractive compared to working in a restaurant. COVID-19 has accelerated this trend over the past year.

Higher guest expectations – Consumers are attaching greater importance to their time, which can also be perceived as additional risk during the pandemic. There are higher expectations for speed and control in restaurants, especially among millennials. Even as vaccination expands and pandemic-related restrictions start to relax, restaurants need to adapt to the emerging new normal.

Growth stagnation & cost focus – Casual and fine dining industry growth was flat even before the pandemic. Looking forward, most growth is expected from consolidation and market share transfer. There is a focus on cost savings, guest experience, and operational speed versus simply opening new restaurants.

Next-gen POS System

Evolution of the POS system.

The next generation POS system costs significantly less and is far more efficient. Instead of multiple fixed PC-based terminals, it involves deployment of tabletop tablets, server handhelds, and mobile contactless systems that all connect to a single POS terminal.

In this new model, guests, staff and management all win. Placing an order at the table can get the food delivered as much as 3 minutes faster. Staff can spend more face-time with the guest, cover more tables, and boost tips instead of constantly making the odyssey back and forth to a randomly placed POS terminal. Handhelds provide a real-time communication channel to staff that is not possible with traditional POS terminals. Waitstaff can be alerted when food is ready, when a guest requires assistance, or with steps-of-service reminders. Management spends less on technology and labor, achieves happier guests and staff, while driving up loyalty.

Presto is the current market leader in next-gen restaurant POS systems. We offer an all-in-one solution for point of sale, online ordering, reporting and analytics, and staff management. The core terminal is a powerful, cloud-based solution with a user-friendly interface that is fully customizable for your specific needs. It updates automatically to provide you the latest features instantly. This terminal seamlessly integrates with our own as well as third-party tabletop, handheld, and contactless devices to help you get the most out of your technology investment today while future-proofing it.

What can you do?

Don’t let your POS be an albatross around your neck. The current POS model is on its way to extinction. If you own one, you already realize it. If you are in the market, ask around and do your research. The POS system is the single most important technology investment a restaurant makes—don’t short change yours. Visit presto.com/pos to learn more about Presto’s next-gen POS system.

About the Author


Rajul brings a unique combination of corporate, agency, and startup experience to Presto. He has 20+ years of marketing leadership experience at Microsoft, Wunderman, NPD, and Aarki.

He holds a bachelors from IIT and a doctorate from UT Austin. Rajul routinely provides media and analyst briefings on emerging trends in hospitality technology.

Contact mktg@presto.com to schedule a briefing with him.