Best POS Systems for Food Trucks: 10 Must-Have Features (2023)
Food trucks are a unique restaurant type. So, how do you find the best POS system for your food truck? Here are some features to keep in mind.
No matter what kind of restaurant concept you have, deciding which POS system to go with is a major decision. But there are some unique features of a food truck that make choosing the right platform a bit more complex.
For example, the average brick-and-mortar restaurant doesn’t have to worry about safeguarding the hardware from a potential pothole or suddenly entering a service dead zone during a lunch rush.
Whether you’re starting a food truck for the first time or you’re a seasoned food truck pro looking to upgrade your technology, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll discuss how Toast can help your food truck get started or grow, outline the best POS systems for food trucks in 2023, highlight the top 10 features to consider when choosing a POS system for your food truck, and offer up additional resources to help you get set up for success.
So, let’s hit the road and help you find a point of sale that goes where you go.
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The best POS systems for food trucks in 2023
Toast ranks #1 in the restaurant POS system category based on consumer reviews. G2 examines over 15 data points to determine market presence, using a combination of proprietary and third-party data, and exclusively uses consumer reviews to determine satisfaction. All of their scoring methodologies are explained in more detail on the G2 website, but we’ll provide a bit more information below.
How the G2 Grid Restaurant Review Scoring System Works
G2’s scoring system is based on thousands of customer reviews and a unique algorithm that helps to process the data and find meaningful patterns and results in real time. Here’s a breakdown of the different elements in the grid and scoring system.
- X-Axis: Satisfaction, based on user reviews and feedback
- Y-Axis: Market presence, based on proprietary usage data, third-party data, and customer reviews
- Top right quadrant — Leaders: The restaurant POS systems that have both strong customer satisfaction ratings and a strong market presence
- Ex. Toast, Square, Lightspeed
- Top left quadrant — Contenders: POS systems with weak satisfaction scores and a strong market presence
- Ex. NCR Aloha POS
- Bottom right quadrant — High performers: POS platforms with strong satisfaction scores, but a weak market presence
- Ex. Upserve, CAKE
- Bottom left quadrant — Niche: These platforms have weak satisfaction scores and a weak market presence
- Ex. POSitouch, Payfacto
The G2 scoring methodology and grid system incorporate several attributes to surface the most helpful reviews for prospective technology customers. Some of the factors in satisfaction rates include customer satisfaction with product features, popularity, quality of reviews, age of reviews, net promoter scores (NPS), and more.
Toast for food trucks
Toast's Starter Kit package is the ideal POS system for your 7ft. - 16ft. food truck. The handheld bundle comes with a Toast Go® 2 handheld point of sale, wireless access point, and free setup and installation support.
When it comes to being cost-conscious, Toast has plans that will fit your budget. The Pay as You Go plan keeps startup costs low by including Starter Kit Hardware for $0* (just pay shipping and taxes), and eliminating monthly POS software subscription fees. The payment processing fee covers all costs, meaning Toast only gets paid when you do. One flat rate applies for all credit card transactions, regardless of card type and entry method.
When your business operations can change at any moment, your food truck POS system needs to be flexible and easy to update. That’s where we can help.
But don’t just take it from us. Here’s what others have to say about Toast:
The top 10 features for a food truck POS system
1. Reliable internet connection (and offline mode for just in case)
Having wifi set up on your food truck is a must. As a food truck owner and operator, you should be focused on serving your customers, not worrying about your internet connection every time you move your truck. Keep in mind that connecting to communal wifi at a food truck park or event is not best practice. Oftentimes, a shared wireless setup like this results in stifled connections and a less secure internet experience.
So you may be wondering, "Can I use Toast from the road?" The answer is yes! You will need a third-party 4G modem with an ethernet port to access the Toast Platform, which you can get from most electronic retailers or your mobile network provider. If you choose to go with Toast for your food truck, we'll provide helpful resources for getting online after checkout.
But if there’s anything that’s guaranteed in running a restaurant business, it’s that things don’t always go as planned. For those moments when you go to a location where you’re struggling to connect to the internet or your wifi goes down, it’s important to have a POS system that offers a solution such as offline mode. This fail-safe will ensure that there are no interruptions in your service. With offline mode, you can continue to place orders, print tickets and receipts, and take credit card payments until the connection is reestablished and you’re back online.
You’re going to have enough on your mind as a food truck owner. Don’t let your internet connection be one of them.
2. Payment and financing options for your food truck technology
When it comes to food truck technology, you’re probably not looking for some expensive, massive solution. Even if you have big dreams of expansion, all food trucks start small.
But that doesn’t mean you’re too small for a quality point of sale system.
Toast's Starter Kit package is the ideal POS system for food trucks, food stalls, or food stands. Starting at $0/month, the Toast Starter Kit allows you to get up and running. Plus, Toast offers a Pay-as-You-Go plan that reduces your upfront hardware and installation costs through an all-in-one platform rate.
When looking for a POS platform for your food truck, it’s more important to find a solution that offers everything you need when you need it, rather than one that forces you to piecemeal solutions in exchange for a lower price point.
3. Online ordering
There’s no denying the power of online ordering — it’s growing 300% faster than in-house dining — but how can you implement it for your food truck?
River City Wood Fire, an artisan pizza food truck and mobile catering business, uses Toast to offer online ordering to its customers. One feature of Toast's online ordering platform that stands out is the ability to easily update hours of operation on your online ordering page, ensuring folks have the most up-to-date information straight from your business. And to help keep customers in the know on the food truck’s whereabouts, River City Wood Fire hosts a calendar on their website to make it clear where they’ll be, and when.
Having a schedule of where you’ll be also allows you to drive repeat customers and gives them the ability to order ahead — using your online ordering system — without any confusion.
Without online ordering, the only way folks can purchase from your food truck is to physically stand in line. And while a long line may be a good sign for business, it's not a great customer experience. Giving your guests the opportunity to order ahead via your online ordering platform will lead to faster turnaround times, shorter lines, and will reduce the pressure on your staff. (Because does any employee really enjoy being stared at on the truck while hungry diners wait for their orders to be ready?)
Overall, your customers are looking for you online — make sure your food truck has a presence. Otherwise, they might go with another food truck or eatery nearby instead.
4. Mobile POS tablets
When you’re operating in tight quarters, the smaller the technology, the better.
A mobile POS tablet puts the power of your point of sale directly in the palm of your hand. Whether you’re at the window inside your food truck or hopping out to line bust during a rush, a handheld allows you to quickly and effortlessly accept orders, process payments, and complete transactions all while interacting with guests. Customers can even tip, sign, and request digital, text, or email receipts right on the handheld POS interface.
Plus, the Toast Go® 2 is fully integrated — firing orders to your kitchen display system (KDS), gathering customer information for your loyalty and marketing programs, and more — which means a better experience for you, your team, and your customers from start to end.
5. Easy menu customization and management
For a food truck, a menu might change weekly or even daily.
Specials, event-specific items, catering options, and even updated pricing (especially these days) make your menu a living, breathing entity.
So, why should you have to restart your system to change a menu item? Why should you have to physically be inside your food truck to get into the menu management software?
With a cloud-based food truck POS system, you can add your specials on your phone, even if you wanted to do it while sitting on your couch or out at the store. Run out of an item in the truck? You can 86 it with the tap of a button.
Things move fast in a food truck environment, and your food truck point of sale has to roll with the punches. Whether you're parked and serving customers or en route to your next stop, it’s important to choose a POS system that allows you to quickly and easily update your menu or prices wherever you are.
6. Hardware that fits your business
When it comes to running a food truck, you don’t have the luxury of a large, open-concept floor plan. Instead, it’s important to take advantage of the space you have, making sure your hardware can serve your business — and your customers — without disrupting the flow of preparing and packing your meals.
First, it’s important to find hardware that literally fits your business. Your food truck POS hardware should be designed to blend in while still providing a great experience for both staff and customers. Consider the height of your window when looking into features like guest-facing display screens. Will your customers be able to reach it to sign and tip?
Plus, your food truck POS hardware must be able to withstand the rigors of a restaurant environment, condensed into a small, mobile space. In other words, you need something durable.
Toast hardware is restaurant grade and IP54 spill-proof rated so you can stay running amidst everyday food and beverage spills. Plus, the Toast Go® 2 mobile handheld POS is spill-proof, drop-proof, and dust-proof. Need we say more?
Hardware like a kitchen display system (KDS) can be a game-changer for your food truck. Omar Tijerina, co-owner of Gateway Bagel Co. in Laredo, TX, says having a KDS prevented the poor customer experience that often came with handwritten or printed tickets.
“It’s super hot, so we have to open the windows in the truck, even with the AC on. And what happens? The wind blows like crazy and the tickets fly,” Omar remembers from his days prior to implementing Toast. With the Toast KDS, you never have to worry about losing a ticket and having to ask a customer, “What did you order again?”
Make sure you’re arming your staff with food truck hardware that helps them work smarter, not harder.
7. Customer engagement and loyalty programs
Let your loyal customers know where you’ll be and build buzz for your brand using customer engagement programs like customer loyalty and email marketing.
Bonus points if they’re integrated with your POS system. (Spoiler alert: Toast Loyalty and Email Marketing are.)
Gone are the days of punch cards or stamps. Toast Loyalty is a credit card-linked program that allows guests to accrue points with each swipe of their card. With an integrated loyalty program like Toast Loyalty, you can easily allow new customers to sign up with opt-in prompts on the checkout screen, helping you build your customer base without breaking a sweat. Plus, you can customize your sign-up bonuses, set accrual and redemption rates, and offer birthday rewards to tailor the experience to fit your brand and your budget.
But how do you keep customers coming back once you’re out of sight, out of mind?
Email marketing is a great tool to get in front of customers who haven’t visited your truck in a while. With custom lists, you can target different customer types, like VIP guests, birthdays this month, catering customers, and more. The biggest benefit to using an email marketing tool that’s directly integrated with your POS system? No more exporting your emails from your POS to import them to a third-party tool.
8. Inventory management
Having a handle on your inventory is important no matter what type of restaurant you’re operating. But when it comes to food trucks, the small area and perishable nature of the ingredients makes having a clear understanding of inventory even more important.
These days, the pen and paper method of inventory management and even the slightly more technical Excel inventory strategy are not enough. Choosing a POS platform that has an integrated food inventory management tool can reduce the margin of error and give you time back to focus on serving food, not crunching numbers.
xtraCHEF by Toast allows restaurant owners to perfect menu prices with precise product mixes, balance instincts with insights for more prescriptive costing, and most importantly, reduce costs.
9. Detailed customer and sales reporting
One of the biggest challenges for food trucks is getting customers to the window and coming back for more. But it becomes a lot easier with the right food truck POS software.
Choosing a POS platform that includes integrated reporting and analytics lets you keep pace with performance in real time. Plus, cloud-based POS platforms like Toast allow you to access this data from anywhere, at any time. No more waiting days or weeks to review results, with Toast you get automatic nightly business metrics straight to your inbox.
Curious how that new menu item is doing? A product mix report lets you track sales of a menu item across all your menus. Or maybe you want to reduce your business days due to increased gas prices? View performance on specific days of the week to identify which days are the slowest.
Integrated sales reporting helps you work smarter, not harder, and keep your food truck on the road.
10. Mobile dining solutions and QR code capabilities
No one likes to wait, especially when they’re hungry. (Or should we say hangry?)
Mobile dining solutions, such as Toast Mobile Order and Pay™, allow guests to take control of their ordering experience by browsing the menu, ordering, and closing their check with contactless payment options.
With Toast, you can implement a custom QR code to scan to order, allowing guests to effectively serve themselves and keep staff focused on meal prep. Rather than stand outside the truck, guests also have the freedom to talk a short walk, wait in their car, or head back to the office until they receive a text, automatically sent by Toast KDS, that their order is ready.
Plus, restaurants using Toast Mobile Order and Pay™ typically see an average 10% increase in revenue.1
Provide faster service and drive a better customer experience with mobile dining solutions at your food truck.
Your food truck deserves the best technology
Your food truck isn’t too small for a POS system. Set your restaurant up for success by opting for a cloud-based POS system, like Toast, that will grow with you and allow you to drive great hospitality no matter where you’re parked.
At the end of the day, reliable food truck POS hardware and software will both improve your business's bottom line and help your establishment become one of the hottest food trucks in town.
Related food truck business resources
- Toast Food Truck POS System and Starter Kit
- Food Truck POS Comparison Tool
- Food Truck Business Plan Template
- Essential Food Truck Equipment List
- How to Rev Up New Food Truck Menu Ideas
- How to Create a Food Truck Website
- Everything You Need to Know About Food Truck Wedding Catering
- How to Scale Your Pop-Up or Food Truck to a Brick-and-Mortar Restaurant
- How to Do Food Truck Branding
- Your Food Truck Marketing Plan
1 Based on performance at select Toast customers.
*Pricing applies to new customers and single locations only.
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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.