Toast, best known for its restaurant software at this point, just announced a suite of point-of-sale (POS) hardware tools designed by the company itself. Simply dubbed Toast Hardware, the suite consists of four different devices, according to the company’s press announcement. This is the first way in which the company is using money from its recent $400 million fundraise that bumped the company’s valuation up to $4.9 billion.
The main device of the four is the Toast Flex terminal, a POS terminal with a 14-inch screen that works across different contexts in the restaurant, including the front of house and the kitchen. It can integrate with another new piece of hardware, Toast Tap, which is an external payment processing device that supports NFC (contactless payments), EMV (chip), MSR (swipe) forms of payment. Toast Printer and Toast Hub, meanwhile, are aimed at eliminating cable clutter from hardware and allow the restaurant to set the entire hardware configuration up in a few minutes.
This actually isn’t Toast’s first foray into the hardware space. The company released its handheld payment device, ToastGo, in 2018.
Nor are these likely to be the last pieces of hardware the company designs and releases to the restaurant industry. From the point of view of a restaurant chain, having interoperable hardware and software pieces that come from the same vendor solves a major issue in the restaurant biz right now, which is that there’s plenty of technology from plenty different vendors, but most devices aren’t great at talking to one another. Terrible, in fact.
Buying a hardware suite from one company and using the accompanying software means there’s a greater chance a restaurant’s different devices and software can communicate smoothly and that the GM won’t have to play the role of de facto IT person during a busy dinner rush. (Of course, the flip side of that is that restaurants would lock themselves in with a single vendor.)
From Toast’s point of view, offering more hardware in addition to its software and extensive partner marketplace keeps Toast customers firmly entrenched in the company’s own world. It also lets Toast more adequately compete with others in the crowded POS space, Square, Revel, and Clover among them.