Best Toast POS Competitors and Alternatives (2023)
Considering alternatives to Toast? Here’s a look into the top features of our POS system that’s built for restaurants, and how they compare to the competition.
How Toast’s Restaurant POS Software Performs Against Industry Competitors
It’s not always abundantly clear how POS software providers differ from one another, so we’re breaking down the differences—and where Toast stands out from the crowd.
We’ll take a look at why restaurants often switch to Toast from other POS software tools, how third party review sites rank Toast and Toast competitors, and how Toast’s features stand up to the industry at large. Use these insights to think through your own POS needs and goals and weigh your options strategically. After all, it’s a big investment, and you want to make sure you’re picking something that will work for your business in the long haul.
Why Restaurants Switch to Toast from Competitor POS Systems
Compared to other industry leaders, Toast stands out in a few key areas. One is Toast’s wide range of digital ordering capabilities, with access to online ordering pages and Toast’s Takeout app. Toast also facilitates a seamless experience for restaurant patrons, who can use Order & Pay to manage their own service from a table-specific QR code.
Another key point of differentiation is that Toast offers 24/7 customer service availability on all of its plans, while many competitors reserve on-demand support for higher price tiers. Toast prioritizes the day-to-day restaurant experience and understands the time-sensitive nature of many potential issues. If a problem arises, its restaurant clients know there’s a reliable support team ready to provide assistance via email, live chat, or phone. Many restaurant owners turn to Toast to avoid an upcharge for this standard service offering.
Lastly, restaurant owners switch from many competitors, including Square and Clover, because Toast was built just for the restaurant industry. Toast users don’t have to wade through features that are built for the retail space or describe common restaurant scenarios to customer service. Since Toast is tailored to restaurant owners, everything from the feature list to the onboarding process is designed with restaurant goals and constraints in mind.
Best Toast Alternatives According to Third Party Reviews
When searching for Toast alternatives, it’s important to use impartial, unbiased data. Reading through customer reviews can be a great help, but it’s difficult to accurately evaluate a product based on a few good or bad experiences.
To aggregate multiple third-party reviews, we’ll turn our search to G2, an industry-leading review site.
G2 collects real-time data from user reviews, online sources, and social networks to assess various products and vendors. As G2 collects data, its algorithm quickly works to calculate the customer satisfaction and market presence scores. The platform updates in real-time to consistently provide business owners with the most current and accurate information.
What’s great is that G2 presents this data accessibly on its G2 Scoring Grid. The G2 Scoring Grid shows how restaurant POS systems rank in relation to each other. To discover information on each product, users can click on any POS icon on the grid and read hundreds to thousands of real unbiased customer reviews.
How does the G2 scoring system work?
The G2 Restaurant POS Scoring Grid has two axes. The X-axis measures customer satisfaction and the Y-axis measures market performance.
These two axes create four quadrants in the grid, listed below.
- Top Right: Leaders, Strong satisfaction, strong market presence
- Top Left: Contenders, Weak satisfaction, strong market presence
- Bottom Right: High Performers, Strong satisfaction, weak market presence
- Bottom Left: Niche, Weak satisfaction, weak market presence
All data points on the G2 Scoring Grid are based on the following information:
- Review recency
- Amount of feedback provided in the review
- Attribution (did the reviewer keep their name and company public?)
- Whether the reviewer is a current user of the solution
- Community engagement with the review
Users can alter their grid view based on the following filters: market segments, star rating, pricing options, trending products, and company size. Each filter allows users to compare products used in markets similar to their own.
Which competitor ranks the highest?
As the #1 ranking software in the restaurant POS industry, Toast can be found in the top right of the grid in the “Leaders” quadrant. This placement highlights Toast’s high scores in both Satisfaction and Market Presence. Through the rest of the grid, you can see Toast competitors whose Satisfaction and/or Market Presence scores fall below Toast.
Let’s take a look at the top Toast competitors and where they fall on the G2 Scoring Grid.
Square, which is arguably the most well-known Toast competitor, is right in line with Toast on the Satisfaction axis but falls short on the Market Presence axis. Since the G2 grid is focused only on the restaurant industry, this likely indicates Square’s primary focus on the retail space. Among only restaurant clients, its market presence falters.
Upserve, which is designed just for the restaurant industry, falls in the “High Performers” category due to its low market presence. Its Satisfaction rating also falls just below Toast, which we can see reflected in its G2 review total (4.1/5 rating, compared to Toast’s 4.3/5).
In the same cluster as Upserve, we also find Clover, TouchBistro, and Revel, which all fall short of Toast in both Satisfaction and Market Presence. Of the group, Revel is the closest to Toast on both metrics
About the #1 Rated POS on G2: Toast POS
According to G2’s research, Toast POS is the best Square alternative. Toast is an all-in-one POS platform and software system built specifically for restaurants.
Because Toast is designed exclusively for restaurant use, it can solve issues unique to businesses in the food and beverage industry. Toast offers online ordering, loyalty programs, website management, email marketing, employee management, and other features that pair with its top-of-the-line hardware options. And, it’s all cloud-based, providing restaurateurs with analytics to help them grow.
Here’s a list of Toast’s Key Features
Restaurant-grade hardware that is IP54 spill-proof rated and super durable
Faster speed of service with quick order and payment processing
Hardware designed to blend in with restaurant decor
Cloud-based access that allows restaurant owners and managers to access data anywhere, anytime, and on any device
Software that is easy to set up and simple to learn
Open integrations with leading industry partners
Transparent pricing options and competitive rates on all transactions
No hidden fees or additional markups
A single point of contact for payment and point of sale
Additional Toast Features
Toast offers handheld technology designed for busy restaurant environments. Their portable devices allow servers to spend more time with guests, accelerate service, and speed through payment processing.
Order Ready Notifications – Servers immediately receive notifications when their table’s order is ready
Tableside Payments - Take tap, dip, or swipe EMV and card payments tableside
Guest Feedback - Collect and respond to guest feedback immediately
Analytics & Reporting
Toast allows restaurant owners and managers to take control of performance with detailed analytics. The cloud-based system provides access to essential reports and sales data from anywhere, on any device.
Make menu updates from any terminal or a connected smartphone. Servers can view item countdowns in real-time to avoid awkward conversations with customers.
Cloud-based menu – Access and modify your menu from any device
Manu countdown – Manage item availability
A single menu – Menu updates automatically reflect in-house and online
Feature Comparison Between Toast and Top Competitors
Many users of Toast alternatives ultimately turn to Toast for an elevated experience. Let’s take a closer look at three top Toast competitors (Square, Micros, and Aloha) to better understand why Toast comes out on top. (And if you’re actively comparing Toast with Square, Aloha, or Micros, use this tool to see all the differences in one single table!)
Toast vs. Square
Square is a common selection for small businesses that are just getting their bearings in the restaurant space. Unfortunately, since Square isn’t built for restaurant owners, its experience doesn’t provide the durability or 24/7 customer service that restaurants expect. Plus, in the online-ordering era ushered in by the pandemic, Square’s online retail tool lacks key restaurant functionality that keeps online service running smoothly.
Toast is also a more robust software for restaurants that are looking to grow, and additional features and integrations won’t cost extra. While Square will nickel-and-dime owners with upgrade options, Toast is constantly rolling out (free) new features, and quote-based pricing offers transparency from the start.
Toast vs. Micros
Micros is another common alternative to Toast, but it falls short in many critical areas. As we’ve mentioned, Toast offers 24/7 support services with a network of specialists on-call for customer service needs. Micros doesn’t offer a similar feature, leaving restaurant owners to figure out issues independently during peak hours.
Micros also fails to offer real-time reports backed up to the cloud, while Toast data can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Toast also excels with online ordering optimized for restaurants, free software updates that are always included (while Micros has additional costs for updates, support, and hosting), and simple menu edits with instant push.
Micros used to be a viable option for restaurants, but in recent years, its focus has shifted to the enterprise hospitality space. The result? Restaurant clients have been left behind, and Toast has stepped in as the ultimate replacement.
Toast vs. Aloha
Finally, Aloha lacks important tech and service features in comparison to Toast when it comes to real-time reporting, 24/7 support, and instant menu updates. Aloha also lacks integration with partners like Checkmate, Chowly, SpeedETab, and many common payroll and labor providers. Toast, on the other hand, easily integrates with more than 70 partners that are mainstays for restaurant clients.
It's clear that Toast is the more robust tool for the restaurant industry, while Aloha has failed to evolve with the times. Its features may have served restaurants well in the past, but they don’t hold up to the modern restaurant atmosphere.
5 Best Alternatives to Toast for Restaurant POS
While Toast is the industry favorite for a reason, these five alternatives are the second-best options for those willing to let go of some key features. Let’s take a look at where Square, Lightspeed, TouchBistro, Upserve, and Clover may serve as the right starting point.
As we touched on above, Square can be helpful for small restaurant businesses that are just starting out and may not need the full scope of Toast’s offerings. Some restaurants begin with Square to get their bearings, then transition to Toast when the basic, non-restaurant-specific features no longer cut it.
Like Toast, Lightspeed is built for the restaurant industry and offers 24/7 support for its clientele. Lightspeed may also work well for restaurants that want to use existing hardware, although it won’t hold up to the durability of Toast’s restaurant-grade hardware solutions.
Unfortunately, Lightspeed also falls short with accounting integration and advanced reporting. In today’s online-heavy restaurant climate, Lightspeed also forces add-on fees for online ordering tools, while Toast includes its industry-leading online ordering tools automatically.
TouchBistro is a locally-installed system that may work well for restaurants that don’t want a cloud-based software. However, like Lightspeed, online ordering is a paid add-on for all plans, which forces an upsell to keep up with today’s consumer expectations.
Upserve is another option that provides 24/7 support and is tailored to the restaurant industry, and its reporting features are praised by some clients. (Notably, reviews are split on whether Upserve reporting is exceptional or horrible, so make sure to compare its offering to your specific reporting needs before committing.)
Again, we see that online ordering is a paid add-on for Upserve clients, so it may not fare well for clients that want an all-in-one solution.
Finally, Clover is one of the few Toast alternatives that includes online ordering capabilities in its standard offering. However, Clover requires a third-party app to sync information between the front-of-house and back-of-house, and its software can only be run on Clover-provided tablets.
How does Toast stack up?
As you can see, there are countless Toast alternatives on the market, and each one offers its own blend of strengths and weaknesses in the space. However, as the G2 scoring grid indicates, Toast is still the industry leader for a reason.
Learn more and explore Toast capabilities to commit to the best-in-market POS provider.
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