Square has long been the favorite of small businesses like hair salons and independent artisans. Now, the merchant-services company is hoping to make an impact in restaurants with its newly announced point-of-sale system (POS).
The software, which works for both sit-down and quick-service restaurants, is reportedly Square’s “most sophisticated software yet.” The system centralizes all a restaurant’s operations in a single place, from booking a table to placing orders and managing the check after the meal. Restaurant owners and operators can also do maintenance tasks, like changing table maps and updating menus on the fly, without the need of a service person.
Most important, Square’s new system promises to also solve an issue puzzling more and more restaurants nowadays: how to manage orders coming in from multiple different channels, both online and off.
Its POS system does so by integrating online and offline sales and centralizing them into one software system. In other words, sales from in-house diners as well as those ordering via Postmates, UberEats, and the growing number of other online services can all be viewed in the same place, giving restaurant owners and operators a better understanding of how each channel contributes to the overall sales picture.
As others have said, the acquisition of Caviar from four years ago makes more sense in light of this news. Add to that Square’s recent acquisition of “certain assets” of corporate catering service Zesty, which would help Square to further expand Caviar’s capabilities. Meanwhile, Caviar serves 18 different metro areas and counts Eataly, and Momofuku among its restaurant partners, presumably giving Square access to a whole new set of potential clients for this new POS platform.
Square isn’t alone in rethinking restaurant operations. Actually, that’s an understatement, because there are plenty of folks trying to centralize restaurant tasks, orders, and data into one place and also address the growing number of channels by which consumers order food. “Every restaurant is becoming an omnichannel business,” Gokul Rajaram, Caviar lead at Square, told Fast Company.
Toast is another big player in the space, offering similar features to Square, including the promise of integrating online orders with the rest of the operations. TouchBistro and Clover both offer “all-in-one” systems, and there are tons more options on the market, too.
Square puts a lot of emphasis on the online orders and delivery aspect of its system, even saying “delivery is in our DNA.” That’s a wise proclamation to make in this day and age, but it’s also only a matter of time before most restaurants will add the same thing to their DNA. Which means we can expect the battle for the omnichannel restaurant to get much bigger, sooner rather than later.