TrustRadius
Toast POS: affordable, but lacking common-sense features
https://www.trustradius.com/restaurant-posToastUnspecified8.714101
Erin Thorp profile photo
Updated May 08, 2019

Toast POS: affordable, but lacking common-sense features

Score 4 out of 101
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Overall Satisfaction with Toast

We use ToastPOS at our Pizza shop in Boulder, CO. Our partnership with Toast began in October 2015 (we were a very early client of theirs), and I should mention it's the first POS system we've ever used; previously a pen & paper shop. A digital POS allows us to access Sales reporting at any moment so we can find patterns in sales/labor that point to suggested operation modifications much more quickly than before. We also use it as a tool for sales projections that help us with scheduling our staff. We now have easily accessible records of every transaction, and processing our monthly financials is a much more accurate and enjoyable experience.
  • The Toast POS App itself has a very user-friendly interface. Training staff on the POS is straight-forward.
  • Though expected of any digital POS, they provide quick and mobile access to Sales & Accounting reporting.
  • ToastGo, which is Toast's new handheld order-taking & CC processing device, would be great for table-service restaurants trying to increase their customer turnover.
  • Toast Online Ordering (ToastOO) is an online ordering service offered for an additional monthly charge (we pay $50/mo), that allows your restaurant to put a link on your website where customers can "order direct" that is directly linked to the POS, so there is no manual entry involved. There is also no commission charge associated (as with GrubHub, UberEats, etc), just the flat monthly rate.
  • Accounting General Ledger Report is a life-saver for bookkeepers.
  • Toast has integration with AMEX so as I understand, you can accept AMEX payments without having an actual partnership with AMEX. AND you receive daily deposits from Toast's CC processing settlements quickly, which is always appreciated from a cashflow standpoint!
  • As a client of ToastPOS since Oct 2015, I have submitted a multitude of feature requests over the years. Some were considered and implemented, some were of course not. But I still have a list of (what I feel are) glaringly obvious features that are missing from the product that, had I known of them, I may not have chosen ToastPOS for my business in the first place (assuming other POS systems do offer these features?). I will lay them all out in detail here:
  • Gift cards are *not redeemable* on Toast's Online Ordering Platform (ToastOO). This includes both physical gift cards purchased in person through the POS *and* e-gift cards purchased online via a website that is directly linked to the POS. Aka a customer goes to our branded website to purchase an e-gift for our pizza shop, but when they go to our branded online ordering website to order pizza Delivery (also provided by Toast), they cannot use their e-gift card to pay. They must either call the shop or show up in person to pay using their gift card. Gift cards not being redeemable online is 100% a missed opportunity that frustrates every customer to whom we issue a gift card. This is also not a good method to entice customers who are loyal to 3rd party website such as Grubhub/UberEats, to switch to ordering direct from ToastOO (saving thousands in commissions). A customer would love FREE money to redeem at a restaurant they already regularly order delivery from, but not at the expense of not being able to order online. At the very least, until there is a solution, Toast should add verbiage to the gift card purchasing page (as well as on the checkout cart page) that states gift cards are not accepted as payment online, to better manage customer expectations.
  • Quote times are too complicated/difficult to manage. This is my staff's biggest pain-point operationally and is management's biggest pain-point since it is so difficult to train something so unintuitive. Say your standard quote time is 30 min Take-out and 60 min Delivery, but these vary all day long every day of the week depending on weather conditions, how busy we are, time of day, etc. Rather than a simple and straightforward "Take-out Quote Time"=30 and "Delivery Quote Time"=60 setting on the POS itself, you have to open a browser, login to the Toast Back-end, set “Default Prep Time (OO/API)”= 30mins & “Default Delivery Time” = 30mins, hit Save, and hit Publish separately. Yes, you have to add the two quotes together in order to come to the Delivery Quote that will be displayed on ToastOO (30 + 30 = 60). If we wanted Take-out to be 45, and Delivery 60, settings would be “Default Prep Time (OO/API)”= 45mins & “Default Delivery Time” = 15mins (45 + 15 = 60 minute delivery time), Save, + Publish. Unnecessarily complicated in a chaotic restaurant environment, especially when most restaurants are managing quote times across multiple 3rd party platforms on top of their own direct ordering website.
  • The online Ordering Schedule is too complicated/difficult to manage. Best explained with an example. If your restaurant is open until 10pm, and you want to accept orders up until 10pm, but your “Default Prep Time (OO/API)” is set to 30 minutes (aka 30 minute Take-out quote), you need to set your Online Ordering Take-out Schedule to be open until 10:30 pm in order to accept Takeout Orders up through 10pm.....and similarly for “Default Delivery Time” = 30 (which actually means a Delivery Quote time of 60 minutes, as explained above), you need to set the Delivery Schedule to close at 11:00pm in order to accept Delivery orders up through 10pm. The frustrating part is that this caveat isn't explained anywhere on the settings page, so you if you didn't happen upon this by attempting to place a Delivery order on your own website past 9pm (and not being allowed to), or noticing a late-night drop in Online Orders, you'd never know your website wasn't accepting orders up through 10pm as you wished.
  • Digital receipts. Toast cannot send digital emailed receipts for $0 orders. Aka if you are making an In-Kind donation (which we do several times per month) and the non-profit requires a receipt (which all do), you have to print the receipt and email them a picture of the paper copy. You cannot just email them a receipt stating the amount of the donation. This is frustrating as Tax Exempt businesses are typically the only customers these days who actually need receipts. It's a shame the ones we send them must look so unprofessional.
  • Toast Loyalty Rewards Program. Pro: purchases are linked to customer Credit Cards so points can add up automatically once they've linked their CC. Con: Because of this, you can only sign-up at the register itself (in-store). I instead would suggest customers be able to enroll online [make it part of the check-out process on ToastOO]. Then customers could enroll, and manage their associated CC's without holding up the line in-store. We are a quick-serve pizza-by-the-slice shop, and the goal is to move the line as quickly as possible, not having customers fumbling to sign up for a rewards program.
  • Bad Hardware. For 3+ years we've had to attach our Elo (think big check-out screen at the front register) to our cash drawer using 6 monster zip-ties, which looks very unprofessional. Toast does not provide any actual hardware (nuts/bolts/etc) to attach the ~$1k+ computer to the cash drawer so it doesn't fall off of the counter when flipped over for signature. Toast has only provided us with Velcro as a solution, which I, of course, do not trust considering the cost to replace the Elo when it inevitably crashes to the floor.
  • ToastOO Delivery Platform does not require a house number, a full 10-digit phone number, and we also have addresses within our delivery zone that get rejected from ordering direct because the system says their address is not in our zone. ToastOO Delivery is currently partnered with Mapbox for address verification. Valid House/Phone numbers are not required, which allows orders through with missing information. It requires our staff to spend unnecessary time on the phone, sometimes not being able to get ahold of the customer. This has been reported to Toast and they claim to be upgrading to a different mapping platform at some point in 2019. The 10-digit phone number issue was discovered as of 1/13/19 and has also been reported to Toast, with no follow-up as of yet. Mapbox rejecting customer addresses within our zone was discovered 10/2/18 and still has not been resolved; forcing those customers who can't get through to order from Grubhub, which of course costs us a hefty commission on orders that should be 0% commission.
  • Promo Codes are not robust enough for a modern digital age. Toast does allow setting up Promo Codes for customer use on ToastOO, but it cannot do basic functions such as limiting the dates/times the promo code can be redeemed, or Limiting the promo code to 1 redemption per user.
  • No branded app. It doesn't seem to me like it would be a far stretch for Toast to offer a branded App option. Restaurants want fewer partners, not more. Partnering with a 3rd party app company just adds one more menu to manage, aka rather than submitting in ToastPOS that we're out of "Green Peppers", and having that translate to ToastOO and a branded Toast App, we'd instead need to login to a 3rd party App provider to mark "out of Green Peppers", along with all other 3rd party online ordering platforms (Grubhub, etc). It gets to be too much for a small staff to manage, and an all-in-one solution with your already-created POS company/Menu, all linked together flawlessly, would be ideal.
  • General Ledger Accounting Report. This is a truly useful report for accounting purposes, but if you accept AMEX payments at your restaurant, this report does not account for AMEX fees, which you must manually calculate separately. Not a huge deal of course, but added time. UPDATE: As of 3/22/2019, Toast has finally updated the General Ledger report to include AMEX fees in your restaurant's accounting reports. It's no longer a separate manual calculation for bookkeepers. Hooray!
  • Menu Set-up Limitations. You cannot make certain items available for Delivery but not for Take-out, or vice versa.
  • No integration with Instagram. There is no partnership between Toast, despite Toast claiming on Twitter to be a restaurant's most important social media platform. Because of this, a restaurant using ToastOO cannot have a "Start an Order" button right on their Instagram page, making it most convenient for customers to order direct.
  • Switching from pen & paper to a digital POS system has been absolutely vital for the growth of our restaurant, and we are grateful for Toast to helping us make that transition. Allowing orders to be placed on a direct online ordering platform that are automatically entered into the POS system saves countless labor. Toast allows us 24/7 access to sales reporting and statistics that help us to make important decisions at the shop every day regarding scheduling staff, ordering food, removing items from our menu that are not selling well, when the best time to close is, etc. Given that ToastPOS is the only POS we've tried, I unfortunately can't speak to whether ToastPOS is better or worse than alternatives. All I know is it was the most affordable option for a small, single-location, locally-owned restaurant, with the best-looking user interface, and I'm glad we made the switch to digital! And all I can compare ToastPOS to what I believe a POS system *should* be. As you can see from my review, I have a myriad of suggestions for improvement that we haven't seen much progress on in our 3+ years with the company, but given their recent funding, I am hoping that will change in 2019.
In my POS research I demo'ed with Revel, ToastPOS, In-Store POS, and Lavu. The main reason we chose Toast was because of the relative affordability, the ease of the interface, and expected ease in training employees how to use it.
At this time, I would honestly not recommend ToastPOS for a restaurant like ours; a quick-serve pizza-by-the-slice shop, offering Delivery, open late-night, with a lot of rowdy college students as customers. The wear-and-tear on the hardware alone is a big concern, as Toast's hardware solutions are not great (they want us to attach our Register Screen to our Cash Drawer using velcro..?). Support is rarely available when we need them most (3am). The workflow of the Delivery Queue platform needs some work to become more efficient, as there isn't much room for error/fixing mistakes is difficult. And most specifically, I would not recommend adding the Toast Online Ordering feature as it is the most non-user-friendly online ordering front-end & back-end that I have worked with in my 10 years with restaurants. The releasing of improvements/upgrades/features is also incredibly slow as far as tech goes.

I think ToastPOS would be better suited for a more calm, table-service environment, with a bar, and with many food prep stations. Restaurants like this would find some Toast features (that we don't use) very useful, such as Kitchen Display Screens, printing tickets at different Prep Stations, swiping customer payments at their tables, and allowing customers to open bar tabs.

Using Toast

30 - Everyone at our company uses Toast. Our Counter employees, Cooks, Delivery Drivers, Management team, Finance team, everyone.
  • Taking customer orders in-store and checking them out quickly
  • Taking customer orders via Phone/3rd party online ordering/ToastOO and getting all orders into the Delivery Queue for Delivery Management.
  • Finance department uses all back-end reports to assure our restaurant gets paid in a timely fashion, and to help with filing our monthly sales tax reports.
There are many features I wish Toast had that it currently does not, but we are likely to renew this year because given Toast's recent increase in funding and expanding of their staff, we are hopeful some of these issues will finally be resolved in 2019. Plus, though I've never done it, I'd imagine that switching to another POS system would take a ton of time, money, and resources---things most businesses don't have a lot of. So we'll sit tight with Toast for now and see what they come up with this year in terms of fixing our biggest pain-points.

Using Toast

Toast POS is a great basic POS tool, having some features I didn't think would be possible at this price point, such as:
  • processing CC payments in "offline mode" in case there is an internet outage
  • kitchen display screens
  • collecting payment from customers using a handheld right at their table
  • pre-approving card payments to assure the customer has enough money to pay for their order, etc

That being said, I still feel that Toast misses the mark on some things that I truly would consider 'common-sense' features, such as:
  • providing hardware that connects the Register Screen (Elo) to the Cash drawer so it doesn't fall off the table when flipped over for customer signature
  • accepting physical and e-gift cards as payment on their own online ordering platform (ToastOO)
  • a Rewards Program that allows for online enrollment, rather than holding up quick-serve lines to sign up
  • a Promo code feature that allows you to add basic restrictions such as Limit 1 per customer, or date/time limitations
  • increasing in-store operations efficiency by creating more straight-forward ways to manage restaurant/ToastOO hours, and Delivery/Takeout quote estimates
Facing these issues after 3+ years has been a frustration. We hope Toast has some solutions in mind that they will be implementing in 2019.
ProsCons
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Not well integrated
Inconsistent
  • If you put the time into initial construction of your restaurant's menu, the physical use of the POS devices, placing orders, checking out customers, and even training the system, are all very easy.
  • Setting Delivery and Take-out Quote estimates
  • Setting up Toast Online Ordering hours
  • Workflow of Shift Reviews is cumbersome as the workflow of some steps kicks you out of the Shift Review, rather than allowing you to simply 'go back' one screen
  • Working with support can also be cumbersome as email correspondence doesn't allow for in-line images, which makes it difficult to quickly respond to an issue and show examples.
  • Having to explain to customers that gift cards purchased at our restaurant, or as e-gift cards via our website, cannot be used to pay for orders online (Toast Online Ordering module).
Yes - I access www.toasttab.com on mobile for my business daily. You can do all of the same things you can from desktop, and it's very practical!