A New Way to Do Business Is on the Menu

Restaurants have been hit hard by COVID-19. But a Canadian POS system has already helped 25,000 establishments adapt to the new normal.


COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way restaurants function in the face of public health restrictions, but point of sale (POS) systems like TouchBistro are helping them adapt.

TouchBistro is a mobile iPad POS and integrated payment system that helps restaurateurs manage the many facets of their businesses more efficiently. The cloud-based platform is a one-stop shop for reservations, payments, POS, menu and inventory management, reporting, staff scheduling, customer loyalty, accounting, and more.

In consultation with owners, the platform was designed specifically for restaurants. Users can use this versatile tool to ensure reliable service and speed to boost sales, satisfy guests, and save time and money. In short, owners can focus on creating memorable dining experiences rather than fuss over paperwork and separate technologies.

TouchBistro offers businesses in-depth training and 24/7 technical support to keep things running smoothly.

Coping under COVID

It’s no secret that restaurants have been hit particularly hard by the lockdown and subsequent restrictions put in place to keep us safe.

The Canadian restaurant industry is expected to experience losses in the region of $20 billion in 2020. Many staff are out of work or struggling financially, businesses are closing, and customers are understandably anxious about attending their favourite venues.

In light of the overhaul to how restaurants operate under COVID-19, TouchBistro has issued a comprehensive guide on how to make the most of technology to comply with regulations, maximize safety, and maintain business.

A cloud-based POS system might have been a competitive advantage in 2019, but now it could be a literal life-saver. Take a feature like table management, which could be used to ensure parties are organized in a socially-distanced manner.

Each server can be equipped with their own iPad to stop the spread of germs between staff, and this also allows for tableside ordering or while customers wait in line, limiting the amount of traffic moving around the restaurant. Contactless payments further help to reduce exposure between guests and servers.

The huge uptick in online ordering this year has forced restaurants to adapt, and an integrated system that takes orders from the website straight to the kitchen is vital to remain competitive. TouchBistro’s platform facilitates the process while allowing restaurants to keep 100% of the profits (other 3rd party providers charge a fee per transaction).

Lastly, data and analytics are more important than ever for managers keeping an eye on precarious finances. Having these tools available will allow them to make crucial data-driven decisions on the hours of operation, the number of staff, and insight into the profitability of menu items.

A variety of features

There are over 200 features available on the platform and the software is regularly updated, so more functionality continues to be added. Some core features are worth a closer look, however.

Restaurant managers can use the platform to create a floor plan via a drag-and-drop interactive feature. Tables and seating arrangements can be managed on the fly, and parties can be shifted from one table to another. Table turnover can be tracked, so managers can evaluate the efficiency of their staff.

Similarly, the inventory can be managed on the system, and users receive alerts when certain supplies are low. Users can also track ingredients while developing recipes, allowing users to note the profit-margin on individual menu items, which ultimately helps with deciding the price.

TouchBistro has an in-depth data reporting tool that provides insights into daily sales, broken down by menu item or category, for example.

Users can observe hourly sales hotspots through a heat map of the restaurant, receive a summary of labour costs, and view the gross margin by day. Data can be printed and converted into Excel files or exported to popular bookkeeping apps like QuickBooks.

Accounts can be created for individual customers where their preferences are recorded and their purchase history and account balances are viewable to staff. Loyalty programs can be integrated through TouchBistro Loyalty, which facilitates the collection of customer data and the management of points, gift cards, and rewards.

For the staff themselves, everyone can be added to the platform and have their role and schedule designated. The time clock feature monitors employees as they clock in and out, and there’s even a messaging service so managers can better communicate with their staff.

Building the brand

The concept for TouchBistro came to CEO and founder Alex Barrotti while relaxing on a patio at a friend’s restaurant. His friend was frustrated with the cumbersome process of taking order slips from tables, bringing them back inside, and ringing them through on the fixed POS system.

Barrotti saw a gap in the market and that an integrated mobile tech system could be the solution. Back in Toronto, he partnered with software developers and got to work on developing an iPad-friendly app for restaurants, and TouchBistro was launched in 2011.

In an interview with the Daily Hive, Barrotti noted that creating an effective marketing team was key in the push to take the product to the next level. Along with a digital campaign, this meant knocking on doors, talking to restaurant owners, managers, and staff to understand their problems and frustrations and demonstrate how they could solve them.

“I listened to the problems they were having in operations, worked behind their counters, studied their workflows, and made adjustments in the design of the app in response to their input,” said Barrotti.

Two years after laying the groundwork in Toronto where word spread in the industry, $5 million was secured in seed funding, which was put back into marketing and development.

Today, over 25,000 restaurants in over 100 countries have adopted the technology, and TouchBistro has offices in Canada, the US, England, and Mexico. The group completed its Series E funding round in 2019 and has raised $275 million in venture capital to-date.

“The global restaurant industry is undergoing a technology renaissance, and TouchBistro is leading the way in driving the industry forward,” said Barrotti in a press release.

“We have teamed up with some of the largest financial institutions in key markets around the world to provide our customers with enriched payment services and easier access to financial services. We are proud of these strong partnerships and plan to build on this model as we expand our global footprint.”

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Barry is a journalist, editor, and marketer for several media outlets including HeadStuff, The Media Editor, and Buttonmasher Magazine. He earned his Master of the Arts in Journalism from Dublin City University in 2017 and moved to Toronto to pursue a career in the media. Barry is passionate about communicating and debating culture, science, and politics and their collective global impact.