This article is the first in an ongoing series of POS reviews. Our goal is to take a closer look at the options available and discuss how well I feel they meet the specific needs of a bar or restaurant.
The Shopkeep POS is an intuitive iPad based system that is fairly flexible and offers most of the functionality any bar would need for a reasonable monthly price. Overall I feel it’s a great value for any small business owner, and fully featured enough to be a long term solution for many bars. That said, it wasn’t purpose-built for bars, and in some ways, that shows.
Below is a high level overview of The Shopkeep POS offering for bars, followed by an in-depth review with screenshots and details of all of the various functions you’ll need for a complete bar POS solution.
Shopkeep, At a Glance:
|Who is it best for?||Food trucks, Coffee shops, Cafes, Bakeries, fast casual, full service restaurant and bars.|
|Contract required?||No, but the cost is lower when you pay annually|
|Start-up Cost||$859 plus cost of iPad(s) (It will be lower if you already have cash drawer, printer, etc)|
|Credit Card Processing||Shopkeep integrates with all major credit card processors and also offer their own credit card processing with the lowest rates available on their platform. (Contact ShopKeep for specific rates)|
|Support|| Text, chat, and web based support is included in the service fee.
“Premium” phone support is available for an additional $30/mo
The Pros: Biggest Selling Points:
- No Contract
- Low monthly fees
- Low start up costs
- Intuitive: reduces training time for employees
- Ability to add new terminals as business grows
- Ability to issue, redeem and track gift cards.
- Inventory tracking included
- Analytics reporting and dashboard included
- Marketing tools and dashboard included
- 24/7 tech support by text, phone, chat and e-mail
- Large library of support videos on YouTube
- App Integration with MailChimp, QuickBooks, AppCard
The Cons: Things to Consider
- Not purpose built for bars or restaurants
- No Table Map available
- Doesn’t support multiple courses
- Doesn’t offer an item count-down
- No in-person training is available
Detailed Shopkeep Overview
ShopKeep is an iPad based POS terminal that started in 2008. It’s a flexible platform that was designed for small to medium sized businesses.
ShopKeep has many features that you would expect with POS system such as time clock management, credit card processing, the ability to organize menu items in logical sections, etc.
Since the software runs on an iPad, much of the anxiety associated with learning a new POS system is alleviated. The layout of the menus are very intuitive with the category buttons on the bottom, item buttons within the category are above that.
Pricing and Contracts
One of the most appealing things about ShopKeep to me is the fact that it does not require a contract. This gives business owners a lot of flexibility, especially if they are just starting out. I could see a new bar owner starting out with ShopKeep knowing they could easily reconsider in a few months if it’s not meeting their needs.
Further, it’s very approachably priced. Without any contract at all, it is only $69 per month for each of your first three terminals. ($29/mo for additional terminals after that.) They also offer some additional discounts: it’s $59/mo per terminal if you sign a year-long contract or $590 for the year if you pay a year in advance.
At $859, the initial equipment cost is also very reasonable. (And it may be even cheaper if you already have a compatible cash box, printer, etc.) You will need to purchase your own iPad(s), so remember to include those in the budget.
Customer & Tab Management
ShopKeep would be an ideal solution for many fast casual concepts where you are ringing up one customer at a time, but it is also flexible enough to support full service bars and restaurants. That said, it does lack some key functions that are usually standard functionality in F&B POS systems
Strengths: Tab and Checks
Overall, customer management is well supported:
- The check screen is very intuitive and it’s easy to add items and if needed, discounts.
- Naming and retrieving a customer tab is extremely easy and you can even start a tab by swiping a customer’s credit card. You will need to swipe the credit card again for payment, but when you are busy, this function is extremely valuable.
- It’s very easy to split checks based on equal payment or based on seat numbers and both are easy to do.
- It’s also possible to transfer checks, though I’ll admit it wasn’t as intuitive as I had hoped. Once you know how to do it. it’s easy to do.
Weaknesses: Some standard F&B Functions
I was disappointed to see the ShopKeep appears to be missing the ability to do the following:
- Table Maps: As a workaround you can name your tabs after table numbers, but it’s definitely not as quick and will take some getting used to.
- Multiple Courses: As far as I can tell, multiple courses are not supported.
- Item Countdown: It is not possible to see an item countown and make it visible on the home screen. This makes it harder for staff to know when you’re out of a given item on the menu, and runs the risk of frustrating staff and customers alike.
Back Office Reporting & Functionality
ShopKeep also natively integrates with Quickbooks to expedite your bookeeping process.
ShopKeep has done a great job of giving you solid analytical reporting options (Sales reports, shift summary, individual transaction details) and condenses some of the most valuable information into their BackOffice dashboard.
The dashboard provides the following information:
- Gross Sales
- Net Sales
- Sales Tax
- Number of Transactions
- Average Sale Value
- Average items per sale
- Total sales by hour
- Average sales by hour
- Top Selling items
- Sales Tenders
- Number of new and returning customers
There are a few powerful reports that are especially useful in the inventory management section and are likely to save you and your management team significant time:
- Current value report: tells you the value of all the inventory you have in stock
- Reorder report: tells you which items are under par and recommends an amount to order
- Current stock report: tells you how much you have of each item in inventory
You can also set thresholds to have the software notify you when you are running low on items and recommend how much to order.
Digital Marketing Tools
The marketing tools are a great feature set and allow you to keep a list of your customers, their email address and physical address (if provided). You can also send customers’ receipts via email, like many modern POS solutions.
The marketing dashboard allows you to see how many new customers and email addresses were added in a given time period, who your top customers were (by number of visits and by purchase totals). You can even integrate your social media into trackable links that are delivered with a customer’s digital receipt.
Shopkeep also integrates with Mailchimp and Appcard to further enhance your digital marketing options.
With an intuitive iPad interface, I didn’t have much trouble quickly figuring out all basic front of house functions. I did find that I needed some help with some of the back office setup steps, but this is something their 24/7 support can easily assist with. I was also very impressed with their YouTube Channel – finding they offered training videos covering most of Shopkeep’s key functions.
Since the training is located on YouTube, it would be easy to make a list of videos that all staff should watch before starting. This lets you expedite the training process and ensure that everyone has some degree of familiarity with your POS before facing the customer.
While no in-person training is available, I don’t think that should be too much of a concern for a bar owner thanks to the intuitive interface and detailed videos available on YouTube.
Technical support can also be a big factor to consider when comparing POS systems. Traditionally, tech support costs extra on top of your POS fees, and can become very expensive very quickly.
ShopKeep provides 24/7 support by e-mail, text messaging and online chat, all included in their normal service fee. They also have quite a few support videos on their YouTube channel. 24/7 phone support is also available, but that will cost an extra $30/mo.
All that said, Shopkeep doesn’t offer in-person support – so you don’t have the option to have a representative come visit to help you set up the system or fix it when something goes wrong.
ShopKeep is a great alternative to traditional POS systems and over delivers on many features that were out of reach to business owners in the past. The fact that they include inventory management, strong analytical reporting, marketing tools and integration with MailChimp, QuickBooks and AppCard can be a huge bonus for data oriented owners.
There’s no question: the most persuasive selling point for ShopKeep is the fact that you don’t have to sign a contract, and the pricing is extremely compelling.
If you can live without a few of the creature comforts that a purpose built restaurant and bar POS brings to the table, then you may want to consider taking a look at ShopKeep.
What have we missed?
Got questions about Shopkeep for your bar? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer and update this article accordingly. Cheers!