All successful businesses know they must adapt to the market and customer expectations. Restaurant owners often find themselves stuck with a POS system that cannot adapt to keep up with those needs. Flexibility and customization in a POS are possible through an open API (application programming interface). Let’s discuss what open API is, why it is important, and how it can benefit your restaurant. This will help you understand why you will want to ensure you have a POS with an open API.
What is an Open API?
First, it is important to understand that API is a set of protocols designed for building software applications and allows different software components to interact with each other. Generally, APIs are private and considered a trade secret. In the software industry, including POS systems like Lavu, have begun to offer open APIs to their users.
There are three key ideals in open API, specifically:
- Based on an open standard.
- Available to developers and users with few restrictions.
- Backed by open data that is free for anyone to republish or use as is.
What Can an Open API do?
By having an open API, users can customize their POS platform to better fit the growing needs of their business. Tech-savvy clients with programming knowledge can build onto the existing software platform, create new account features, and even build new products altogether. For instance, if you have a specific color scheme in your restaurant or font on your menu, with an open API you can change the background, in-application color schemes, and font to match your current restaurant brand.
Furthermore, open API presents the ability for software vendors to specialize and really create the best products. As we all know, vendors who “specialize” in the full caboodle really don’t have much to offer. When experts can focus and design a functional product, we all win. When multiple vendors partner with other experts for other functions of a business, it becomes a win-win-win scenario.
The Benefits of Open API
While using an open API is a worthwhile endeavor, some programming and technical knowledge are required to capitalize on this feature. While most restaurants do not have an in-house programmer, some work with their POS provider, or opt to hire third-party developers to build onto the API of their POS system. The beauty of this is the freedom to experiment and tailor your software to fit your needs.
An endless number of pos integrations can be made with an open API. For instance, users can integrate social media pages to their interface, or incorporate restaurant signage. You and your developer may even create innovative ways of using the primary software. At the same time, always be sure to communicate enhancements with the primary software company… as oftentimes they will incorporate some functionalities brought to their attention.
Some tangible options to consider include:
If your existing checkout process is confusing or not detailed enough, an open API in a POS allows you to remove or add to the process. Customizing the payment processes can help reduce employee errors or aid in faster customer checkout.
With the popularity of the app-driven world, payment methods are more popular and seen more commonly to include debit/credit cards, mobile payments, e-wallets, prepaid cards, gift cards, and good ol’ cash. The more payment options you can provide your customers, the more customers you will attract, and it adds value to the checkout process mentioned above.
Increase profits with a Cash Discount Program to help offset payment processing fees.
Creating personalized icons that can be color-coded based on important health concerns, such as allergies, diabetes, high-sodium, or low-calorie. Custom icons allow employees to communicate better with guests regarding menu item ingredients. The interface could also enable administrators to store notes pertaining to dishes, such as ingredients and possible substitutions.
Complex Loyalty Programs
When a loyalty program is fully integrated with a POS system, it saves time and staff frustrations in processing rewards. A working example of this is the popular Starbucks app, which includes ordering for pickup, payment, gift card integration, a personalized favorite drink list, all while keeping track of points and using rewards that are available.
One Database for Customer Communication
With a primary account for customers through an app or simple account creation in-restaurant, communicating by email and snail mail becomes efficient and accurate.
Online Ordering & Delivery Coordination
With a growing number of pay-to-deliver services, even restaurants without delivery are able to integrate a food delivery platform with their POS through an API. Customers can order online as a guest or create a profile, then order the food through their preferred delivery platform, pay, and anticipate delivery.
Inventory and Purchasing
A daunting task for any restaurant manager or owner, digitized inventory is a dream come true. The POS with an API connects with the inventory/purchasing system to accurately track how much is being purchased (or ingredients being used) and can provide reports or integrate with vendors for purchasing supplies.
Payroll & Benefits
An often-overlooked part of any software package is a strong payroll system. By integrating with an open API, you can have staff log time, provide performance measures for bonuses, and easily process payroll whether you have 5 or 100 employees. Many payroll systems available incorporate benefits, time off, scheduling (and shift swapping), blackout dates, online employee portals for easy access to paystubs and W-2 statements and may even handle tax payments for your restaurant.
Analytics & Reporting
Unlocking valuable data about your restaurant is one of the biggest benefits of having a POS with an open API. Whether it’s to pull sales data, labor costs, menu pricing or online ordering data, using the restaurant POS analytics is a critical element that will aid in the success of your business.
Reservations & Waiting List
Make reservations or your waiting list easy to access for customers. This will save your staff time in managing it on paper or a spreadsheet and saves a lot of time by not having to answer the phone.
One way to think about all these options is like building a café menu. The central items focus on coffee drinks (aka open API POS system), then adding non-coffee beverages (payment methods), light pastries (loyalty program), healthy snack options (online ordering), and so forth.
Whether your restaurant is a new coffee shop or a seasoned sports bar with multiple locations, having a restaurant POS with an open API enables your POS to grow with your business rather than having to wait for new features to be added by the software company.