This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Self-service kiosks are customer-facing devices that allow customers to place orders, make purchases, check in for appointments, or make payments without assistance. The best kiosk software works seamlessly with your point-of-sale (POS) system and payment processor.
Kiosk software should easily handle complex information like food modifiers, event ticketing, or appointment information. The best ones also suggest popular add-on sales and collect customer information for marketing purposes.
Based on our evaluations, the best self-service kiosks for small businesses are:
- Toast: Best overall self-service kiosk for restaurant self-service and reservations
- Lightspeed Restaurant: Best tabletop restaurant kiosk
- DaySmart Salon: Best self-check-in kiosk for salons
- KORONA POS: Best for ticket-selling kiosks in event venues and tourist attractions
- IT Retail: Best self-checkout kiosk for high-volume grocers
- Square with KioskBuddy: Best budget kiosk for restaurants, retailers, and businesses using Square POS
Best Self-service Kiosks Compared
Monthly POS/ App Fees
Monthly Kiosk Fees
In-person Payment Processing
Supported Business Types
From 2.49% + 15 cents
From 2.6% + 10 cents*
Table service and counter service restaurants
Included in Deluxe and Premier plans
Month to month
Varies by processor
Salons, beauty services
Month to month
Varies by processor
Event venues, amusement parks, museums, nonprofits, retailers
Short- and long-term available
Grocers, markets, specialty food stores, convenience stores
Month to month
2.6% + 10 cents
Restaurants and retailers; any business that uses Square
*This provider also integrates with select third-party payment processors. See provider section for more details.
Which Self-service Kiosk Is Right for You?
Answer a couple of questions and get our expert recommendation right on this page. The quiz takes less than 30 seconds and requires no personal information.
Need alternative options to self-service kiosks? If you prefer not to purchase additional hardware, use customer smartphones instead. Find out more in the section below on self-service kiosk alternatives.
Toast: Best Overall Kiosk for Restaurants
Like Lightspeed Restaurant, Toast only has kiosk software for restaurants. If you need tools for ticketing operations, you’ll need to look at KORONA. Retailers will want to look at Square with KioskBuddy and IT Retail. Salons that want walk-in check-in tools should look at DaySmart.
Lightspeed Restaurant: Best for Restaurant Tabletop Kiosks
Since Our Last Update:
Lightspeed Restaurant formerly offered a 14-day free trial. Currently, it does not offer a free trial of the restaurant POS—only the retail POS.
The Lightspeed Self-Order menu is only currently offered on Lightspeed’s Restaurant POS. If you need kiosk tools for checking in customers or selling tickets or retail items, this is not the solution for you. For ticketed events, see KORONA. If you need to check in customers, look into DaySmart (for salons). Retailers can find kiosk tools in Square with KioskBuddy or IT Retail.
DaySmart Salon: Best Self-check-in for Salons
DaySmart Salon’s kiosk only supports appointment-based beauty and wellness businesses. It also cannot process payments at the kiosk. If you want to check in customers for dining reservations or accept full food or retail orders with payment processing, you’ll need a different solution. For reservations check-in, try Toast. Restaurants wanting table-side kiosks should see Lightspeed, while busy counter-service restaurants may prefer Toast.
KORONA POS: Best for Ticketing Businesses
KORONA doesn’t have much to offer full-service restaurants, and the kiosk hardware can get pretty expensive. Restaurants that want self-service kiosks have a lot of providers to choose from, including Lightspeed, Toast, and Square with KioskBuddy.
IT Retail: Best Self-checkout for Grocers
IT Retail kiosks may be more machine than small operations need. If you only need a single self-checkout kiosk, Square and KioskBuddy may be more your speed. For a self-checkout setup somewhere between Square’s small budget option and IT Retail’s big budget option, look at Lightspeed
Square With KioskBuddy: Best Budget Kiosk for Restaurants & Retail
KioskBuddy and Square include tools for both retail and restaurant operations. But, KioskBuddy currently doesn’t integrate with Square Appointments. So, if you need a kiosk for your salon or other wellness business, try DaySmart Salon. If you want check-in tools for a restaurant, try Toast.
Methodology—How We Evaluated Self-service Kiosks
We compared over a dozen popular self-service kiosk systems based on what’s important to independent business owners, including overall cost, purchasing functions, POS and payment integrations, and ease of use for customers and staff. We also considered our retail and restaurant experts’ personal evaluations of each software.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
25% of Overall Score
First, we looked at whether or not each software offers a free plan, free trial, and a software option under $75 per month. We also considered hardware costs and looked for kiosk systems that operate on readily available hardware like iPads. We awarded points to systems that integrate with more than one payment processor so restaurant owners can shop around for the best processing rates. And, we also considered how each kiosk handles cash payments.
10% of Overall Score
We awarded points to systems that support multiple hardware configurations or multiple software workflows to support different business types.
20% of Overall Score
Kiosks need to support complex orders with modifications and meal combos. We also looked for systems that upsell onscreen to increase check averages. Since customer preferences vary, we looked for systems that accept a wide range of payment types, from credit cards to mobile wallets and cash. We also looked for kiosks that collect customer information to support your marketing and loyalty solutions to encourage return business. To keep your business running smoothly, we looked for kiosks that integrate directly with restaurant POS systems.
20% of Overall Score
Kiosks need to be easy for customers to navigate without guidance. They also should be easy for owners and managers to update when prices or menu items change. We looked for systems that are easy to self-install or include professional installation at no additional charge. We also awarded points to systems that offer 24/7 customer support. Then we considered how the system notifies customers that their order is ready, giving high marks to kiosks that support integrated SMS text messaging.
25% of Overall Score
Alternatives to Self-service Kiosks
The drive toward contactless self-service solutions in recent years has led to a surge in business tools that use customer smartphones as self-service kiosks. The benefit of using customer smartphones is that you don’t need to purchase or maintain additional hardware. There are two main ways to use customer smartphones for self-service: QR codes and apps.
QR codes are inexpensive. Most every POS system now includes a QR code generator, which allows you to print a scannable QR code that directs customers to any webpage. This could be your online store, online ordering site, reservations and waitlist page, or self-check-in site. Understaffed restaurants can even use QR codes to accept customer orders and payments from individual tables.
All you need to make a QR code-based self-service system work is a web page that has your desired functions, a QR code generator, and a high quality printer. If your business sees a lot of customer traffic, you may want to add lamination to your printed QR codes so they last longer.
Use a QR code for self-service when you already have a website that performs the function you need. When you don’t have a website where you can easily direct orders and process payments, a self service app would be better.
Many POS systems and third-party software providers offer custom apps at prices that many small businesses can afford. You can find an app to support practically any function your business performs. You can add or develop white-labeled customer or employee-facing self-service apps to help you manage everything from digital orders and loyalty to employee payroll and tip distribution.
What is “white-labeling?”
White-labeling allows you to use your business branding on a preconfigured software tool so all your customers see is your business information, not the information of the underlying app. White-labeled apps give small businesses the polish and appearance of much larger operations.
You don’t have to break the bank to add a self-service app. Many are built into affordable, cloud-based POS systems, or offered at prices starting from $0 per month. We’ve listed a variety of interesting self-service apps below.
Small Business Self-service App Providers
(with Toast POS)
(with Revel POS)
Employee self-service wage and tip management
White-labeled restaurant and retail shopping app with loyalty functions
White-labeled salon and spa appointment booking
White-labeled digital ordering app
Best for: Growing restaurants
Best for: Multilocation restaurants a budget
Best for: Busy spas and salons
Best for: Restaurants on
Nowadays there are self-service kiosk options for virtually every business type. In this evaluation, Toast outscored the competition by providing the most comprehensive, user-friendly tools for the businesses they serve—restaurants. With smart cash routing, complex order modifiers, and full communication with your loyalty program, restaurants can save labor hours by rolling out Toast kiosks. With a $0 Starter Kit subscription and pay-as-you-go hardware, you can get started for $0 upfront.