The 3 Best POS Systems For Bars [Reviewed] – 2019 Buyer’s Guide

best pos system for barsA bar POS system has the purpose of helping bar staff and managers oversee beverage service, so you would need much more than a standard retail POS system.

Substitutions, drink recipe lists, price scheduling, tab management, and split inventory for liquor pours are just some of the things to look for in bar POS software. In general sales management, all bar POS systems fulfill the same exact functions as any POS system.

A bar owner or manager can take orders, manage inventory and purchasing, process payments, track sales, and review business analytics. A great bar POS system, however, goes above and beyond all this.

It offers bar and beverage service-specific features, such as being able to transfer tabs and split checks, run customer tabs, order entry that allows drink customization, split liquor inventory products and track pours.

Also, it will make drink recipe lists with ingredients, schedule prices for happy hour and other specials, provide a multi-user environment with staff tracking, and track tips and end-of-day payouts.

Having these features makes every aspect of your facility and services run smoother. You can improve inventory tracking, serve drinks faster, allow patrons to pay however they wish, and track every aspect of your business in one streamlined system.

Our Top Pick For the Best Bar POS System: Lightspeed

Lightspeed has been on the market for over a decade, but their bar POS was launched a bit more recently. However, it has quickly become one of the top-ranking POS systems for bar owners. With this system, it is possible for patrons to pay however they want, including by means of store credit. You can also easily place items on layaway or on hold and apply discounts. On the back end, it also features a myriad of functions such as managing inventory, purchase orders and staff.

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Best Bar POS Systems 2019 – Reviewing the Top 3 Providers

Ease of Use
Customer Service
Starting Price
Not provided
Cloud, SaaS, Web
Cloud, SaaS, Web
Cloud, SaaS, Web
Live Online
In Person
In person
Online, phone, 24/7
Online, business hours
Business Hours
Free Trial
Billing & Invoicing
Demand Planning
Distribution Management
Inventory Management
Order Management
Order Tracking
Quality Control
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Why We Love Lightspeed POS For Your Bar Business

This POS can also track unit costs and shipping fees, ensuring good budgeting. If you have more than one bar, you’ll enjoy complex inventory functionality. You can transfer merchandise between sites, and you have full visibility of all goods.

You can also set varying prices on a location basis for the same unit, helping you maximize your profit margin. Lightspeed can help you create quotes or estimates, service and repair orders, and determine labor costs.


The cheapest Lightspeed POS plan is their small plan, which costs $99 a month for a single register with access for up to five staff members. The medium plan costs $169 a month and offers up to two registers and access for ten employees.

They have a large plan too – the plan you select depends on the size of your establishment. This POS is relatively expensive, and not only in terms of the present review. You will need to pay more if you want to add more registers or employee accounts than your plan allows. On the upside, even the smallest plan includes 24/7 support, free software updates, multichannel capacity and secure cloud backups.

Add to that robust multi-location management tools and an amazing array of ready integrations, and you tailor Lightspeed POS to fit your exact bar service needs.

Here’s a brief overview of the features that make Lightspeed POS an excellent bar POS system:

  • Run customer tabs & split checks
  • Mobile device tableside ordering using iPads & iPhones
  • Drink order customization with modifier price adjustments
  • Drink menu lists that ties to inventory with automated reductions per-order
  • Schedule timed price events and discounts for happy hours and other specials
  • Offer a customer loyalty program via several 3rd party integrations
  • Automated upsells and promotion reminders
  • Add a food menu tied to your kitchen for bar fare

Even More Features

Lightspeed offers the option to choose from a number of integrated merchant account providers, shift inventory between locations, manage multiple locations, and offers multi-user staff logins for security, time and tip tracking.

You can manage stock purchasing and receiving per location, split inventory products to track pours, and work in offline mode if you lose your Internet connection. The system also offers detailed location-specific and aggregate business reports and analytics and location-specific customer data collection for promotional needs.

Easy Sales and Management Operation

Lightspeed handles most bar sales and management needs seamlessly. It is very easy to manage tabs, customize orders, tie split inventory to every sale, track tips, and manage your staff. It also lets you price-shop processors to get the best rates as you can choose from several merchants/payment providers.

Lightspeed is a great choice if you need to manage sales, inventory, and staff across multiple locations. Bar owners can oversee all location-specific activities from one central hub and look at aggregate data or break down reporting by location from there. You can even track patrons to target your email, social, and loyalty marketing efforts by location.

Build Your Own Checkout Register

Lightspeed also provides register bundles or you can build out your own checkout register with a-la-carte iPad stands, cash drawers, and receipt printers.

The benefit here is that Lightspeed Restaurant POS lets you use the registers and devices that meet your specific requirements and budget, and you can use any laptops, iPads, or iPhones that you already have.

Lightspeed register terminals are iPad-based and access to the backend business management system is possible from any mobile device or desktop computer. A big advantage here is that you can download Lightspeed POS to your own equipment – you don’t need to buy new hardware from Lightspeed in order to operate its POS. You can even use it with an iPhone for tableside ordering.

Possible Drawbacks

The price of this system is one downside, as mentioned. It offers a lot of features and can serve as an all-around POS option, but this makes it a relatively slow software. It’s hard to make spontaneous, unplanned price or inventory adjustments because of the complexity of the system.

If you need a number of add-on features, like online ordering, a loyalty program, or email marketing, you’ll get these through third-party integrations, but this will hike up your total monthly costs. These aren’t built-in to the POS system.

The Bottom Line

One major advantage of Lightspeed is that you only pay for the add-ons you need. So, rather than paying a hefty monthly fee for bar POS software with everything added, this POS has streamlined base pricing and users can add just the features and costs that matter to their operation.

However, the price of Lightspeed makes it a better option for more established enterprises. Owners or managers of smaller venues may be able to find more lucrative options as far as the cost goes. Lightspeed POS’s wide variety of features also makes it attractive for bars with a large number of staff and lots of items to manage.

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Our Number Two Pick For Best Bar POS System: TouchBistro

Like our previous choice, TouchBistro is designed specifically for bars, but also caters to breweries, cafes, pubs and restaurants. It offers mobility, cloud-based reporting, and excellent customer support among other advantages.

This iPad POS system can be taken anywhere in the bar. Waiters can take orders and accept payments tableside or serve clients waiting in line. This helps your bar run efficiently and enables staff to focus on providing good services instead of on racing back and forth.

TouchBistro is compatible with iPad, iPad Pro and iPad Mini. Hardware investments are minimal, and the system is cheaper to set up than most traditional bar POS systems because it is compatible with third-party POS equipment.

Cloud-Based Reporting

The cloud-based reporting makes it possible to access back-office features using any device equipped with a browser. This can be done remotely.

You can follow what’s going on at the bar without having to actually be there physically. The company offers video tutorials, a searchable base of knowledge and other information to help you learn how best to use the system, and step-by-step guides. It is also well-priced.

Actually, it is one of the best-priced POS systems for small bars. There are four software plans based on the number of iPads you plan on using with the system, and you can view rates and plan details based on annual billing on the company’s website.

TouchBistro Trial & Support

All plans feature full selection and support for an unlimited number of users and cloud reporting. There is a free trial if you want to test the system before making a commitment. Based on your bar’s requirements, custom quotes are also available.

TouchBistro’s solid reporting tools offer excellent assistance in running a growing business. With sales data, expense reports, inventory counts, and other analytical data, the system offers detailed and comprehensive views of how the bar is doing financially, which beverages or snacks are selling best, who your best bartenders are and more. It can also help you establish trends to make your menu better.

Perfect Customer Service

TouchBistro’s professional customer support representatives are friendly and knowledgeable, and there are countless ways to contact a live representative and resolve issues under their guidance. All clients have access to email and phone support at no extra cost.


You’ll need a Mac computer such as an iMac, Mac Mini or iMac Pro to use as a server if you use more than one iPad. This POS system relies on Apple-based infrastructure. You need both an iPad and an AirPort Express router to launch it. If you’re looking for an Android- or Windows-friendly POS system, this one may not be right for you. It is a good choice if you’re already an Apple user.

TouchBistro is a POS system that runs with cloud-based reporting on a local network. This is why you need the router and server. TouchBistro’s functionality depends on the local network and device, not the internet, so if the internet connection in the area is unreliable or just plain slow, it may be a good option for your bar.

If you are looking for a cloud-based POS system that you can access, sync and change regardless of where you are, it isn’t a good option for your venue. You’d be better off choosing one of the other two POS system we’ve reviewed if you need access to the system from anywhere at any time with an internet connection.

Bottom Line

TouchBistro features a good mix of bar-specific features that help you manage catering, reservations, and deliveries. It’s an affordable solution that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract.

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Our Number Three Pick For Best Bar POS System: NetSuite

NetSuite is a well-known name in the industry. The software provides real-time insights into sales and other financial information, customer behavior, inventory, and more.

The order management system features an activity dashboard that provides weekly or monthly sales reports for stock managers. NetSuite can modify and add new capabilities into the system in case your bar grows and expands, as we hope it will.

NetSuite’s POS system boasts advanced reporting functionality. You need to carry out respective implementation for the product to work optimally. In addition, you need to scope out the upfront work.

NetSuite can transform your bar with a real, single commerce platform. By providing your sales associates with the info and tools needed to assist and engage customers, you can boost profit. Moreover, you can offer a greater variety of product choices and more convenience with a practically endless array of fantastic beverages.

Add Brands And Regions

NetSuite enables bar owners to add new regions, channels, brands, and business models, providing real-time insights to help increase your earnings. Actually, this company even makes its software available to non-profit organizations as a donation. On the downside, it is not a particularly intuitive system, but you can get used to that.

Combines POS And E-Commerce

NetSuite is a multi-channel, cloud-based bar management solution for bar managers and owners that combines POS, e-commerce, and order management functionalities. The software grasps the complexities of the specific model quite well, providing a unified system with back office management. The apps understand the software and hardware requirements, enabling staff to focus more on customers and less on the system.

Bottom Line

NetSuite is the one of the best cloud software providers on the market right now, and the vast majority of its users are fully satisfied. It is a full package and a one stop solution for the needs of your establishment.

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What To Look For In A POS System For Bars

When searching for the perfect bar POS system for your operation, you’ll find many options. Some packages are designed specifically for food and beverage service businesses, like TouchBistro and Toast.

Others, like Lightspeed, Square, and ShopKeep, are customized versions of popular multi-industry POS systems. You are at the heart of the selection process. It is of paramount importance to take the time to list the features you need for your bar now, but also what you expect you’ll need in the future.

That will help you pick the best bar POS system that can fit your bar and budget now and as you grow and expand, hopefully. We find Lightspeed to be the best POS system for bars on the market right now. Its lowest price is suitable for smaller bars.

Bars with few employees, a limited product selection and a single location may find our second choice the best option. All three choices are suitable for a growing business. TouchBistro will let you shop around for the best deals because it is compatible with multiple payment processors.

Our Final Say

A POS system and software will make or break your bar. For every software vendor pushing a program, there are tens of misleading statements, hidden fees, and other risks. It might seem like all programs have the same features and functions, and the price could then be your only consideration.

As you can see, it shouldn’t be. There is a world of difference between one bar POS system to the next. A reliable bar POS system must include all the software and hardware needed to process and record sales and print receipts, such as computers, cash drawers, and printers.

This combination of software and hardware can be difficult to manage, especially for smaller bars, because owners presume the system will work with any old computer or printer. You shouldn’t be scared – this complexity is meant to serve and not deter you.

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