This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Restaurant inventory management software helps restaurants manage ingredient stock levels, purchase orders, recipes, and menu costs. The best restaurant inventory management software systems sync with or are built into point-of-sale (POS) systems, saving hours of administrative work. These tools cost anywhere from $99 to $129 per month. However, some tools with limited features are available for free.
Based on our evaluations, the best restaurant inventory software is:
- MarketMan: Best overall restaurant inventory software
- xtraCHEF by Toast: Best for ease of use and Toast POS integration
- Upserve by Lightspeed: Best for automated ordering
- CrunchTime: Best for multilocation restaurants and labor cost analysis
- Revel Systems: Best for security features
- Yellow Dog: Best for commissary kitchens
- Orca: Best for cost control
Top Restaurant Inventory Software Compared
Minimum monthly fee
Vendor management EDI
Month-to-month or 1 year
iOS or Android
iOS or Android
$59 + $60 per terminal
iOS and Android
iOS and Android
Month-to-month or 1 year
iOS and Android
In addition to the features above, all the systems on this list include low stock alerts, suggested orders, and POS integrations.
How We Evaluated Restaurant Inventory Software
We compared dozens of popular food inventory software tools based on what’s essential to restaurants: ease of use, price, stock tracking, and vendor management. We also considered our retail and restaurant experts’ personal evaluations of each software.
Based on the above criteria, MarketMan is the best restaurant inventory management software. MarketMan received the highest overall score according to our grading system for inventory software (4.68 out of 5). Based on our personal experience testing inventory software and working in and with restaurants that manage inventory every day, MarketMan is also one of the top software that we personally recommend.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
15% of Overall Score
30% of Overall Score
We looked for essential inventory functions, like supply levels that sync with sales in real time. We also looked for customizable inventory tracking sheets that match the layouts of your storerooms. Software that fully integrates with restaurant POS systems, is cloud accessible, and supports detailed reporting earned the highest marks.
30% of Overall Score
To support automated restaurant operations, we looked for inventory software that enables physical counts via barcode scanning and direct vendor ordering via electronic data interchange (EDI).
15% of Overall Score
Because restaurants typically count inventory in early mornings, late nights, or otherwise outside of regular business hours, we prioritized solutions that offer 24/7 customer support. Any systems that offer one-on-one installation support or training also earned high marks.
10% of Overall Score
Finally, we considered each system’s standout features and rated whether it offers good overall value for its price. We also judged how popular each system is with other restaurant owners. Then, we awarded points based on our personal experience interacting with the software and the company’s customer support.
MarketMan: Best Overall Restaurant Inventory Software
MarketMan is a cloud-based inventory and vendor management system explicitly designed to support restaurants. Its full features include physical counting, budgeting, purchasing, order optimization, food costing, and vendor management. This system also supports streamlined ordering via email with administrative support from the MarketMan team to process received invoices. Unlike xtraCHEF, Upserve, and Revel Systems, MarketMan also integrates with a wide range of POS systems, not just one.
MarketMan earned the highest score (4.68 out of 5) out of any restaurant inventory management software we considered. It received the highest marks for its general and advanced inventory management features and scored well on price too. The only way the system could have scored higher is if it sent vendor orders and payments via an electronic data interface (EDI) and offered a free subscription tier.
MarketMan Standout Features
All memberships include a dedicated account manager and one-on-one training sessions. Since MarketMan is cloud-based, you can operate it on Windows and Mac computers and Android and iOS mobile devices. You can further streamline your restaurant operation by integrating your MarketMan software with compatible accounting software: QuickBooks, Sage, or Xero.
MarketMan’s standout features include:
- One-on-one setup: When you sign up for MarketMan, you’ll meet your dedicated account representative. Your rep will walk you through your account setup, even assisting with the data entry to get your system running faster.
- Maximum food cost threshold: With MarketMan, you can set a maximum food cost threshold for each recipe. If ingredient costs go up, your MarketMan dashboard will alert you. So you can either raise your menu price, find another supplier, or adjust your recipe.
- Purchase order management: MarketMan software sends your orders via email directly to sales reps. You can also require the owner, executive chef, or general manager to be cc’d on all new orders. To receive invoices, you can input them manually or scan physical invoices with a smartphone, and the MarketMan team will enter them within 24 hours. Unlike xtraCHEF, CrunchTime, Yellow Dog, and Orca, MarketMan does not have a full electronic data interface.
- Delegate tasks: In the MarketMan dashboard, you can assign specific access levels to employees, enabling more staff to assist with large tasks like weekly physical counts. Enlist bartenders, line cooks, servers, and supervisors to count various stock areas. The software will prompt them if any numbers appear erroneous and send you an email if they override these prompts, so you can still keep tabs on your stock, personally.
- Cookbook feature: MarketMan can compile all of your restaurant’s recipes into an easy-to-navigate cookbook. You enter ingredients, portion sizes, instructions, and photographs, and MarketMan takes care of the formatting. Your staff can access cookbooks via computers, phones, and internet-connected tablets, or you can print hard copies. The cookbook is an excellent feature for ensuring consistency across multiple locations.
xtraCHEF by Toast: Best for Ease of Use and Toast POS Integration
xtraCHEF by Toast is a user-friendly cloud-based restaurant inventory and vendor management tool. This system integrates directly with the Toast POS, which regularly appears as one of our top restaurant POS recommendations. In addition to EDI connections to vendor ordering and payment portals and scan-to-enter invoices, xtraCHEF by Toast also offers a free “On the House” subscription tier. This free tier does not include real-time ingredient-level inventory tracking, but it does offer vendor and PO management and invoice uploads.
xtraCHEF was originally designed as a freestanding inventory and financial management platform for restaurants. Toast purchased it in June 2021, so there may still be some kinks to work out as the two brands combine forces. For example, most pricing currently requires a custom quote, and the required contract length is unclear. However, the integrated Toast POS requires a two-year contract. If these terms were more clearly spelled out, xtraCHEF could have scored higher.
xtraCHEF by Toast earned a 4.44 out of 5 on our restaurant inventory ranking system. It earned high marks for its free baseline subscription and its many automated inventory and accounts payable features. The lack of non-Toast POS integrations and barcode scan inventory counts lost the system some points. That’s not to say that you can’t use xtraCHEF unless you have a Toast POS. You certainly can. You just won’t get the full benefit of xtraCHEF’s detailed margin variance and actual vs theoretical inventory reports.
xtraCHEF by Toast Standout Features
xtraCHEF will ultimately replace the Toast POS system’s built-in inventory tools. While Toast’s ingredient-level inventory has always been strong, xtraCHEF’s features expand the system’s automated functions, saving you time in the back office.
xtraCHEF by Toast’s standout features include:
- Visual interface: xtraCHEF’s dashboard is designed to be visual first. Reports condense complex cost analysis into easy-to-read charts, so there is no chance to misread your metrics. Recipe entry and order count screens are similarly pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate.
- Scannable invoices: Like MarketMan, xtraCHEF includes invoice scanning tools for easy invoice entry. Unlike MarketMan, however, xtraCHEF uses a combination of line-item recognition software and a quality control team to read the information on your invoices. There is no limit to how many invoices you scan each month; the more you scan, the more intelligent your xtraCHEF system becomes. Scanned invoices also provide the basis for building your ingredient inventory, speeding your setup time.
- EDI functions: Like Yellow Dog, Orca, and CrunchTime, xtraCHEF includes a full EDI connection to place orders and place payments with suppliers directly from your xtraCHEF dashboard.
- Rebate program: xtraCHEF includes a unique tool that none of the others on this list offer: a manufacturer’s rebate program. Your xtraCHEF system will check your orders against manufacturers’ rebates available on the Buyer’s Edge platform. These rebates help ensure you’ve gotten the best price on absolutely everything and earn some cash back whenever possible.
Upserve by Lightspeed: Best for Automated Ordering
Upserve by Lightspeed offers the most automation of any built-in POS inventory software we’ve encountered. Relying on your POS system’s built-in inventory tools is a great way to control your restaurant software costs. Upserve’s POS and inventory management features are a great fit for small to midsize restaurants that want to automate administrative tasks like ordering and receiving supplies.
Upserve’s inventory tools are only available as part of the Upserve POS system. Pricing for the baseline POS starts at $59 per month, but unlocking inventory management requires the higher-priced Pro membership of $199 per month plus $50 per terminal. Upserve also operates on preconfigured, Upserve-supplied tablets and mobile devices, increasing the system’s cost. All of Upserve’s subscription tiers include Upserve’s 24/7 customer support and a comprehensive, searchable online knowledge base.
Upserve earned an overall rating of 4.36 out of 5 on our restaurant inventory management criteria. It scored well on ease of use and advanced inventory functions. The high-functioning underlying POS also contributed to Upserve’s strong performance. The system could have scored higher if it communicated to suppliers via EDI—like xtraCHEF, CrunchTime, Yellow Dog, and Orca do—and was slightly less expensive. The three-year contract length (like Revel Systems) also cost Upserve some points.
Upserve by Lightspeed Standout Features
Upserve combines a high-functioning, restaurant-specific POS with insightful automation to drastically reduce the time required to order and track restaurant supplies. When used to its fullest extent, Upserve’s inventory software will save you hours of administrative time.
Upserve by Lightspeed’s standout features include:
- One-click reordering: As you sell items throughout the day, Upserve depletes your on-hand inventory count. As supplies dwindle, Upserve sends low stock alerts and generates suggested orders from your suppliers. You can review these orders, then submit them all with one click in your Upserve back-office dashboard.
- Smartphone scanning: You can download the Upserve Inventory App from the App Store and Google Play and transform your smartphone camera into a barcode scanner to receive and count inventory items.
- Color-coded order alerts: Orders change color in your inventory dashboard, so you can see at a glance when a vendor order has been submitted, received by the vendor, delivered, and completed. You’ll see your order status change in real time as suppliers open and read your order emails and text messages.
- Offline functionality: We all know there is zero internet connection in the walk-in cooler. Upserve leverages the POS system’s robust offline functionality to support inventory counts on mobile devices. The system saves updated item quantities in your mobile device’s local cache when you lose internet connection. When you regain internet access, a simple refresh syncs your changes with the cloud. You’ll know your data is updated when the “Changes Saved” banner appears at the top of the screen.
- Comprehensive reporting: Since Upserve’s inventory software directly integrates with the POS, the reporting features are highly detailed. You can see dynamic food cost and usage reports as well as menu optimization reports that draw your attention to high-cost, slow-selling menu items that drag your menu down.
CrunchTime: Best for Multilocation Restaurants
CrunchTime has supported restaurants since 1995, providing purpose-built restaurant inventory and labor control tools. This system is popular with large multi-unit restaurant groups like Shake Shack and Dunkin’ Donuts. CrunchTime’s software designers and customer support representatives are all restaurant-industry veterans, so you never lose time explaining your pain points or processes. This robust software includes three affiliated smartphone apps for counting inventory, receiving orders, and creating daily food prep checklists. CrunchTime also includes auto-scheduling and labor cost tracking.
CrunchTime has not overlooked any inventory functions, and it includes a lot of extras. But that can make this system more machine than a small restaurant truly needs. If you have multiple locations or plan to franchise your concept, though, CrunchTime is an excellent choice. If you’re not wrangling a staff of 40+ or juggling multiple locations, you’ll probably be happier with inventory software that’s built into your POS, like Upserve by Lightspeed or Revel Systems.
CrunchTime earned an overall rating of 4.31 out of 5 on our restaurant inventory management software scoring system. It earned a perfect 5 out of 5 for general and advanced inventory functions. But this system lost points for not offering a free subscription and requiring a custom quote for pricing. If transparent pricing is important to you, check out Upserve by Lightspeed, Revel Systems, MarketMan, or Orca.
CrunchTime Standout Features
CrunchTime includes a lot of insightful features that show the company’s restaurant experience. The combination of labor cost tracking and inventory management tools makes CrunchTime a full-spectrum cost-control system. Smart automation touches further streamline time-consuming administrative tasks.
CrunchTime’s standout features include:
- Detailed analytics: You can customize your CrunchTime dashboard and alerts to track which data you see. POS integration allows you to track profit and loss in real time, so you can make critical business decisions in time to impact your bottom line.
- CrunchTime! Impact: This attached mobile reporting app shows you up to 50 key performance indicator (KPI) metrics on any mobile device. You can set custom alerts and view data from multiple locations from a single dashboard. Impact works on Android and iOS devices, including Apple Watches.
- Physical count on mobile devices: Your staff can count inventory on any Wi-Fi-enabled device by logging into the CrunchTime site. Or, you can download the Counter app from the Apple App Store or the Google’s Play store to process physical inventory counts.
- Task-specific apps: You can extend your restaurant’s efficiency with custom-designed smartphone apps for each area of your restaurant. In addition to the traditional counting app, CrunchTime’s Line Check app helps your kitchen and management team perform quality control checks. Kitchen Sync generates detailed prep lists and syncs with your inventory to track products as they are prepared. You can further expand your CrunchTime system with employee scheduling and team messaging through the TeamWorx app.
- Order automation and forecasts: Your CrunchTime system can generate suggested orders based on your par levels and historical use. The system will also use your actual sales data to forecast future needs. Detailed forecasts tell your kitchen team how much food to prepare to meet expected traffic levels, preventing waste and spoilage.
Revel Systems: Best for Security Features
Revel Systems is a pioneer in the restaurant POS world. This system was the first iPad-based cloud POS for restaurants, and it still manages to pack an impressive number of features into a streamlined package. It consistently appears on our list of best POS systems for small businesses. Revel’s POS is a massively functional system, and its inventory tools are no different. You can add unlimited ingredients, recipes, and vendors.
You can also add customized roles and user permissions to give precise access levels to individual team members. You can even control what individual inventory counters see on the attached smartphone counting app. For example, you can block the expected count number to prevent copied and pasted numbers or attempts to hide theft.
Revel Systems earned an overall score of 4.21 out of 5 on our inventory software rating system. This software scored well for ease of use and both general and advanced inventory management functions. The lengthy three-year contract and lack of a free subscription tier cost Revel some points, though. If you need a free solution, you’ll be happier with xtraCHEF’s “On the House” subscription.
Revel Systems Standout Features
Like Upserve, Revel Systems’ inventory tools are only available as part of the greater Revel POS package. Unlike Upserve, however, Revel Systems includes inventory management in the baseline POS subscription. Revel has the most sophisticated user permissions of any POS-hosted inventory management software. Bars and restaurants that rely on multiple teams for physical counts or struggle with employee theft and breakage will not find a better inventory tracking solution.
Revel’s standout features include:
- Customizable permissions: Revel Systems supports highly customizable user permissions. You can give individual users access to specific functions like inventory counting without giving them access to every report or managerial function. So, you can assign weekly liquor counts to bartenders and dry goods counts to line cooks without compromising overall information security.
- Block information: You can choose to block the “expected count” column on inventory counting worksheets to prevent your team from copying and pasting old counts. This function is also a great way to prevent fudging numbers to hide theft and breakage.
- PO management: You can create POs in Revel Systems’ management dashboard and email them directly to suppliers. Revel’s PO interface is slightly less automated than Upserve’s; you can generate POs from low stock alerts in Revel, but the system doesn’t do it automatically. But, like Upserve, receiving a PO in Revel’s back-office dashboard allows you to update your on-hand quantities as you receive new products.
- Shelf-to-sheet counting: Revel Systems allows you to create physical count sheets that reflect the layout of your restaurant’s storage areas. You can drag and drop listed products to arrange them in the same order they appear on your shelves to speed your physical inventory counts.
- Smartphone counting app: Revel’s Stocktake smartphone app allows your team to take physical inventory counts on iPhones. Divide your restaurant into manageable, easily counted sections, and assign specific count sheets to any trusted employee. Via the Management Console, you can view counts while they are in progress, so you know when you can begin month-end or other accounting procedures.
Yellow Dog: Best for Commissary Kitchens
Yellow Dog’s inventory management software is a free-standing inventory software solution similar to MarketMan, CrunchTime, and Orca. Yellow Dog’s unique functions for labeling and distributing prepped ingredients make it an excellent fit for large-scale catering operations that rely on a central commissary kitchen, especially large food truck fleets. It would also be a terrific choice for tracking inventory in high-volume ghost and cloud kitchen groups.
Yellow Dog earned an overall score of 4.12 out of 5 on our restaurant inventory software criteria. It earned points for its massive array of general and advanced inventory tracking functions but lost points for price and customer service hours. While Yellow Dog does provide comprehensive online training tools, its live customer service team is not available 24/7.
Yellow Dog Standout Features
Like CrunchTime and xtraCHEF, pricing for Yellow Dog’s inventory management software is only available via a custom quote. The system is app- and browser-based, with downloadable counting apps for both iOS and Android mobile devices. Yellow Dog also sells task-specific hardware for barcode printing, barcode scanning, and handheld inventory counting.
Yellow Dog’s standout features include:
- Connect to suppliers via EDI: Like xtraCHEF, CrunchTime, and Orca, Yellow Dog Inventory integrates directly with most popular restaurant suppliers via EDI. This integration automatically downloads your vendor invoices and adds them to your inventory system. Set up invoices to be processed automatically or require manager approval before posting. Any new products are automatically added to your Yellow Dog system. It will also send you an email to alert you to cost fluctuations.
- Rugged hardware: You don’t have to rely on smartphones for mobile inventory counting. Yellow Dog sells inventory counting devices that are as user-friendly as smartphones but much more secure (and drop resistant). If you don’t want to spend the money, though, you’ll find Yellow Dog’s inventory counting apps available on both iOS and Android devices.
- Supported barcode printing: Yellow Dog’s barcode printing system supports design templates for an unlimited number of barcode label types. You choose what information to include, from ingredients and price to nutrition information, expiration date, and graphics. Print detailed sales labels for grab-and-go items or shelf labels for your storerooms to speed inventory counting.
- Integrations: Yellow Dog integrates with almost every recognizable restaurant POS system and popular accounting tools. Bars that struggle with heavy-handed bartenders will find lots of bar-specific integrations for pour-tracking too.
- Commissary kitchen support: If you supply multiple locations with prepped food from a central kitchen—commonly called a commissary kitchen—you have unique product tracking needs. Yellow Dog allows you to create internal transfers of prepared items—like fresh juice blends—that deplete your commissary inventory based on the attached ingredients. The recipient location, however, will be internally invoiced for the final, prepped item.
- Recipe app: Yellow Dog includes a recipe app where you can compile detailed recipes for your team to reference. Recipes include photos, ingredient lists, and detailed preparation instructions. Your team can tick off ingredients as they are added to ensure that nothing gets missed.
Orca: Best for Cost Control
Orca, like the others on this list, is a browser-based inventory tool built specifically for restaurants. Like xtraCHEF, Yellow Dog, and CrunchTime, Orca supports a full EDI connection to your vendors. Though, unlike those other systems, Orca charges $199 per vendor integration. Escalating costs aside, Orca has a lot of excellent cost-tracking tools. Orca logs your daily sales and orders to help you build accurate budgets and sales forecasts for the weeks and months ahead. The system takes daily weather into account so you can even track your sales and costs on rainy versus sunny days and plan your business decisions accordingly.
Orca earned a score of 3.80 out of 5 on our inventory scoring criteria. Orca scored well for its general inventory features and ease of use. But it lost some points because Orca charges itemized fees for each integrated vendor and POS system. These fees can make the system’s cost add up quickly. If cost is your primary concern, you might prefer xtraCHEF, which offers a free baseline subscription, or POS-built systems like Upserve by Lightspeed and Revel Systems. While they aren’t exactly cheap either, they include a POS in addition to inventory.
Orca Standout Features
- Budgeting tools: Orca includes a comprehensive suite of budgeting tools. The system includes smart recipe building sheets that show your food cost as you enter ingredients. The forecasting tool generates target ordering budgets and sales forecasts, with searchable day and holiday fields. These searchable features help you manually overwrite the auto-generated sales forecasts when you have large events or upcoming holidays.
- Intelli-Order: Orca’s one-click ordering module, Intelli-Order, goes one step beyond Upserve’s. Where Upserve generates suggested orders based on your preset pars, Orca can suggest orders based on your historical sales or your sales forecast. So if you have projected a busy holiday week ahead, Orca will increase the orders of critical ingredients, takeout boxes, and even cleaning supplies. You can place all of these orders with a single click.
- Custom email groups: You can set your Orca system to automatically email copies of purchase orders to a custom group. Beyond emailing POs to sales reps and managers, you can also email purchase orders to the staff member who receives orders. In most restaurants, the person placing the order is rarely the person who receives the order. Having a copy of the original PO helps your receivers see errors or discrepancies so they don’t accept products that you didn’t order, saving you money in the long run.
- Waste tracking: With a single click, Orca compares your actual sales to your inventory usage by menu item. This report shows you where your cooks and bartenders might be going off-recipe or where you might have lost bottles of alcohol due to breakage or theft.
- Overstock alerts: If your Orca system sees that an ingredient or product is overstocked, it will send you an email notification. The email includes information about the product and who counted the inventory. This helps prevent your employees from mistakenly ordering more products than you need and will reveal if someone makes conscious over-counts to cover thefts.
MarketMan received the highest score across our grading system for general POS features, restaurant-industry features, ease of use, and our own expert review. MarketMan has tools for restaurants of all types. This cloud-based restaurant inventory software tool is full-featured and affordable for independent restaurants. The features are all packed into a user-friendly, browser-based system that you can access from any internet browser. It also integrates with a range of restaurant POS systems to further streamline your operation. To see the system in action, visit MarketMan to schedule a demo.