When you’re running a bar or pub, everything has to work. That means no interruptions to your point of sale (POS) system, smooth service and fast payments. In today’s coronavirus-world (not Corona, ahem…), it’s also important for many to link the point of sale with online ordering or remote payments.

Thankfully, there are quite a few POS software systems specifically for hospitality businesses – pubs and bars included. However, many of them have a limited reputation and lack of pricing transparency so it’s a little hard to identify the best ones.

We’ve done the work for you and researched the options. Here are six of the best POS systems for bars and pubs in the UK.

Bar & pub POS system Cost* per till Best for
1. TouchBistro £49+/mo Advanced features, easy to figure out
2. Zonal Custom quote Custom setup for high-revenue bars
3. Lightspeed Restaurant £59+/mo Breadth of POS features
4. Square for Restaurants £0-£69/mo Speed and online integrations
5. iZettle Food & Drink £29/mo Simplicity and low price
6. Epos Now £25+/mo Scalable EPOS for larger bars

*Excluding VAT.

Bar &
pub POS
Best for
1. TouchBistro Easy-to-use advanced features
2. Zonal Custom setups for high-revenue bars
3. Lightspeed Restaurant Breadth of POS features
4. Square for Restaurants Speed and online integrations
5. iZettle Food & Drink Simplicity and low price
6. Epos Now Scalable EPOS for larger bars

TouchBistro – best all-round value

Best for: User experience

Pricing: £49+/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad

Pros: Good range of features, not too expensive, offline functionality

Cons: No Android compatibility, customer loyalty extra cost, 1 year’s commitment

Originally from Canada, TouchBistro is gaining traction in the UK with a decent customer service and very user-friendly software. Within the POS app, the advanced settings are explained with descriptions or illustrations, making this a great choice for bars wanting a shorter learning curve. The software works on iPad and not Android tablets or PC computers.

Photo: TouchBistro

TouchBistro tablet screen behind a bar counter

TouchBistro works on iPad, which we recommend you get a tablet holder for.

You pay a licence for each iPad till with the option to pay monthly, twice a year or annually (the more you pay upfront, the cheaper). There’s a minimum of 12 months’ commitment. Unlike POS systems with tiered-feature plans, you get the same extensive features with all the licences, but advanced customer loyalty options cost extra.

Although features apply to any hospitality business, pubs and bars can especially benefit from the tipping options, split bills, drink menus with modifiers, stock management and employee accounts with separate permissions. You can also connect via Deliverect with Uber Eats or Deliveroo for takeaway orders online (extra costs apply).

The software is cloud-based, but stores data on the iPad too so the POS app can work smoothly if the internet stops working. When the WiFi is back on, the new transactions are uploaded in the cloud to keep everything synced. If using multiple iPad tills, TouchBistro can provide a server to ensure all iPads are synced while offline.

TouchBistro pricing
iPad licence, 1st £49 + VAT/month
iPad licence, 2nd-3rd £45 + VAT/month each
iPad licence, 4th-9th £40 + VAT/month each
iPad licence, 10+ Custom quote
Loyalty features From £29 + VAT/month
TouchBistro
pricing
iPad licence, 1st £49 + VAT/mo
iPad licence, 2nd-3rd £45 + VAT/mo each
iPad licence, 4th-9th £40 + VAT/mo each
iPad licence, 10+ Custom quote
Loyalty features From £29 + VAT/mo

TouchBistro offers free customer support 24/7 through the app, phone or by email. The service is generally highly rated by users.

Payment integrations: Barclaycard Business, Paymentsense, Square

Can you try before subscribing? Yes, there’s a 7-day free trial without registration and further 21 days’ free trial if you create an account.

Zonal – custom solutions for high-revenue pubs

Best for: Customer service and tailored EPOS

Pricing: From £5k per site incl. hardware, software, training, installation etc.

Compatibility: PC, iPad

Pros: Personalised approach, good customer service, choice of software modules

Cons: Expensive, no support between 12am-8am, not for tablets-only

Zonal
(4.5/5)

You don’t see Zonal advertised everywhere, but most pub goers will have set their eyes on their colourful till display while they wait to pay for a drink. Zonal is a family-owned company that has existed for 40 years, and its branded Aztec EPOS was first launched in 2003. Both small and large UK hospitality businesses are using Aztec, including Wetherspoons, Be At One and Pizza Express.

Photo: Zonal

The Aztec software looks a bit retro, but it works smoothly.

Rather than relying on aggressive marketing, Zonal prefers a personalised approach to customers. There is no pricing on their website – instead, you phone or message them about your requirements, and they can then advise and give a quote.

Quite frankly, the system is the most expensive on this list. For example, a one-till site would cost around £5,000 with hardware, software, installation, training and everything else included. It is therefore not for low budgets, but rather for businesses with enough capital and knowledge to know what they need in the long term.

Zonal offers modular hospitality management software, custom EPOS and till equipment. This includes e.g. table management, order and pay apps for tablets, stock management, in-depth reporting, EPOS interface editing, payroll, kitchen management, customer loyalty functions and online ordering.

The POS system is run on custom-built POS touchscreens that can withstand spills, grease and regular wiping. These are also purchased through Zonal. It’s possible to use the EPOS on iPad, but you still have to have one ‘master till’ computer for this to work.

Zonal costs
Price per till From £5,000 including all hardware, software & service
Zonal costs
Price per till From £5,000 including all hardware, software & service

Given the higher price tag, you can expect a premium customer service from Zonal. The company makes an effort to work with the merchant to find ways to increase revenue and decrease costs through the software modules offered. Phone support is available 7 days a week every day of the year between 8am-12am.

Payment integrations: Verifone, more or less any merchant service provider

Can you try before subscribing? There’s no trial, but Zonal can provide a live demo at your premises.

Lightspeed Restaurant – wide range of features

Best for: Clean interface with lots of functions

Pricing: £59+/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad

Pros: Range of features, many online ordering integrations, great customer support, works offline

Cons: Add-ons can rack up costs, lots of settings to go through

Lightspeed Restaurant is an extensive POS system for any hospitality business, pubs included. It has more features than most other iPad POS systems, meaning more settings to consider at the beginning such as the myriads of employee permissions.

It’s relatively intuitive to use, but may need some guidance with some functions if you’re unfamiliar with advanced bar operations. The POS app is only compatible with iPad, but works offline.

Lightspeed POS counter view

Lightspeed Restaurant can handle most operations not just in restaurants, but in bars too.

Bar features include inventory management, split bills, ingredient tracking and a customisable product menu with detailed options and modifiers. You get a lot of analytics and can set timed promotions such as happy hour deals. The table order functions are comprehensive, including the option to manage reservations. The app interface is easy on the eye, the dark theme blending in perfectly with a dimmed bar.

Customer support is great. You can reach them 24/7 by phone or email and you get a free one-on-one onboarding session at the start to allow you to ask any questions about using the system. There’s no minimum contract, but choosing to pay monthly is the most expensive option, while annual plans cost less.

Lightspeed will offer various add-ons such as online ordering through Uber Eats or Deliveroo, costing extra.

Lightspeed Restaurant pricing
Licence per iPad till £59 + VAT/month (annual plan)
£69 + VAT/month (monthly plan)
Add-on features Varies
Lightspeed
Restaurant
costs
Licence per iPad till £59 + VAT/month (annual plan)
£69 + VAT/month (monthly plan)
Add-on features Varies

Lightspeed Restaurant works with the contract-free iZettle Reader and SumUp Air readers, but also with traditional card machines from Paymentsense with a long-term contract.

Payment integrations: iZettle Reader, Paymentsense, SumUp Air

Can you try before subscribing? Yes, you can sign up for a 14-day trial without obligation.

Square for Restaurants – speedy, good value for money

Best for: Busy bars on a budget

Pricing: £0-£69+/mo

Compatibility: iPad

Pros: Built for speed, online ordering features, many payment tools, no contract

Cons: Could be more advanced, no offline mode, no Android support, limited to Square payment system

Square for Restaurants is a hospitality-focused POS system for iPad. Despite the name, the software is also ideal for bars and pubs with multiple tills or a kitchen. The system is user-friendly with plenty of customisation options, order management, product settings, payment methods and integration with ecommerce – without any contractual commitment.

Photo: Square

Square for Restaurants works well for busy bars requiring a full till setup with payments included.

With Square, there’s a choice between a free Restaurants subscription with some food-and-drink features, and Plus for £69 + VAT monthly with the full range of POS features for one location and unlimited tills. Since you only pay per location, this could be a cheap alternative for several checkouts compared to POS systems that charge per till. There is also a Premium plan, but this is mainly for getting a better deal on an ecommerce setup.

Square for Restaurants integrates with a free online ordering page through Square Online, a Deliverect integration (costs apply) for Uber Eats and Deliveroo, and other software to supplement your in-person service and manage your business. You can even print QR codes so customers can order on their phones from their table. This makes Square a good place to start, with a later view on expanding the business with more complicated systems.

Square restaurant features include table, order and employee management, service charge and tipping, communication with other tills and a kitchen printer, conversational modifiers, open bills, dark and light mode of software, fast order entry, shift reports and much more. When setting up for the first time, you do spend some time customising exact settings of your till setup, but this pays off when using the till as the interface and settings will then be totally relevant to your processes. There is no offline mode, so you do rely on a good WiFi setup in your bar or pub.

Square for Restaurants costs
Free plan Free (unlimited locations/tills)
Plus plan £69 + VAT/mo (unlimited tills at one location)
Square for
Restaurants
costs
Free plan Free (unlimited locations/tills)
Plus plan £69 + VAT/mo (unlimited tills at one location)

On the Free plan, you only get customer support between 9am and 5pm on weekdays. The Plus plan gives you 24/7 access to support. Square generally gets good customer reviews for its software and payment system, but some users report problems with payments that Square flagged as suspicious.

Square for Restaurants integrates with Square’s own card readers. Square Reader and Terminal payments cost a standard transaction fee of 1.75%. You can benefit from next-day payouts, Instant Transfers (for a 1% extra fee per transaction), virtual terminal for over-the-phone payments, invoicing, payment links and more for no extra monthly fees.

Payment integration: Square

Can you try before subscribing? Yes, you can get a 30-day free trial of the Plus plan or just use the Free plan without monthly costs indefinitely.

iZettle Food & Drink – for uncomplicated pubs

Best for: Small bars keen on a fast system for 1-2 iPads

Pricing: £29+/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad

Pros: Ease of use, no contract, low cost, payment links for distanced payments

Cons: No customer support after 6pm/8pm, no Android support, no online ordering integrations

Most people know iZettle for the card readers, but the company’s iZettle Food and Drink EPOS is great for bars and pubs. The software is an iPad-only app for food and drink with back office analytics, staff management and inventory features. It comes with an additional app that can track sales from a phone. There’s no long-term commitment, i.e. you can cancel the subscription any time.

Photo: Mobile Transaction

iZettle Pro hospitality POS

iZettle Reader and iZettle POS at The Grapes pub, London.

Features include product variants, eat-in versus take-out VAT distinction, product variants, modifiers and user accounts with differing permissions. You can analyse wastage, popular products, and other sales details, generate X- and Z-reports, and connect with Xero or QuickBooks for in-depth accounting features.

There is no offline mode with iZettle, so you need a stable WiFi connection to ensure transactions can be processed at all times. The software integrates with iZettle Reader for in-person payments at a fixed 1.75% per transaction. Payment link transactions cost 2.5% each.

There are no seating plan features, ingredient tracking or the kind of complex features required in a full-service restaurant. This is a system for simpler pubs or bars requiring a fast, extremely user-friendly system built to reduce complexity. The software lacks the option to integrate with online ordering functions, but this is due to be added in the Autumn of 2020.

iZettle Food & Drink costs
Licence per iPad £29 + VAT/month
iZettle Food
& Drink costs
Licence per iPad £29 + VAT/mo

Customer support is included in the subscription, although it can take a while to get a response for non-urgent queries. You can reach customer service by email or phone every day, between 8am-8pm on weekdays or 9am-6pm on weekends.

Payment integration: iZettle Reader

Can you try before subscribing? Yes, you can usually get the initial subscription for free.

Epos Now – better for large-scale bars

Best for: Custom setups

Pricing: £25+/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad, Android tablets, PC, Mac

Pros: Choice of purchase or lease options, can use PC touchscreens, multi-store management

Cons: Customer support costs extra, cheapest plan has limited features, some usability issues

Epos Now
(3.7/5)

Epos Now is a POS system built for any size retail or hospitality business. Even a small bar or pub might prefer Epos Now because it is not just compatible with iPad – it works on Android tablets and purpose-built Windows touchscreens that can take regular cleaning, greasy fingers and rough handling all day. You can even pay for the software upfront instead of subscribing to a monthly plan.

Photo: Epos Now

Epos Now iPad bundle

Epos Now equipment bundle with iPad.

You can subscribe to three POS plans, the most expensive (Enterprise) being a custom package for larger businesses. The cheapest plan, Standard, includes features for unlimited products and user accounts, but not customer support beyond the onboarding service and emailing. You’ll have to pay for the Premium plan to get 24/7 customer support with the option to phone in.

Of the bar functions, the hospitality software can run happy hour promotions and update the stock level of drinks ingredients. If you get the custom POS monitors sold by Epos Now, you can swipe staff ID cards in the swipe reader on the side to speed up logins. Although the till menu looks modern and orderly, some of the buttons can be a bit too small for larger fingers, which could lead to errors.

The software is regularly updated in the cloud, but you have the option to work entirely offline through onsite servers. Bars with the prospect to grow rapidly can upgrade the service to get onsite support suited around your needs across multiple locations.

Epos Now costs
Standard till licence £25 + VAT/mo for first till, £15 + VAT/mo per extra till
Premium till licence £50 + VAT/mo for first till, £30 + VAT/mo per extra till
Epos Now costs
Standard till licence £25 + VAT/mo for first till, £15 + VAT/mo per extra till
Premium till licence £50 + VAT/mo for first till, £30 + VAT/mo per extra till

Epos Now connects with a range of partner platforms for card payments, accounting, ecommerce and online ordering (Deliveroo).

Payment integrations: Barclaycard Business, Global Payments, Paymentsense, Worldpay

Can you try before subscribing? Yes, there’s a