In the News: In December 2020, Upserve was purchased by Lightspeed. It will be fascinating to see what new solutions come from this merging of POS powerhouses.
What We Recommend Upserve For
Upserve was, initially, a customer relationship management (CRM) system designed to support locally installed legacy POS systems like MICROS and Aloha. So, it follows that Upserve’s customer engagement functions are some of the most robust available in a cloud POS. This system also includes some unique reporting features that other POS systems lack. This well-liked restaurant POS consistently finds its way onto our list of best restaurant POS systems.
In particular, we recommend Upserve for:
- Restaurants wanting an iPad POS: Upserve is our top choice for an iPad POS system for restaurants. In our evaluation, it earned a 4.38 out of 5 with top marks for its feature-rich software.
- Upscale bars: The dark mode display and recipe display features make Upserve an excellent bar POS for craft cocktail bars with extensive menus of esoteric drinks and low light.
- Restaurants and cafes focusing on CRM: Marketing and customer tracking functions are included in Upserve’s baseline POS, along with restaurant features that work well for managing coffee shops. Upserve is one of our top recommendations for cafe POS systems.
- Restaurants/bars needing reporting functions: Upserve’s Server Insight, Menu Insight, Reputation Management, and Campaign reports offer a detailed look at performance metrics that many other POS systems lack.
When Upserve Would Not Be a Good Fit
- Businesses on a budget: Upserve is not a low-cost POS. If your budget is tight, check out our favorite low-cost POS systems.
- Single unit food trucks: Upserve likely has more bells and whistles than a micro-enterprise like a single food truck will use. See our recommended food truck POS systems for the best options.
- Pizzerias: Upserve supports delivery and menu modifications, but not robustly enough for most pizza shops. For pizzeria-specific functions, check out our top recommendations for pizza POS systems.
Looking for something different? See our recommendations for the best restaurant POS systems to find a software that’s right for your business.
Upserve POS Overview
|Operates on iPad or Android tablets||Pricey, adding functions like inventory and online ordering add up|
|Transparent pricing, monthly fees, and individual hardware prices are listed online||KDS is dated (though new parent company Lightspeed may change this)|
|Comprehensive reports synthesize your performance metrics into easy-to-read charts and graphs||More functions than a small restaurant or food truck needs|
|Marketing tools directly track the ROI of advertising and promotions, so you know what is working||Modification menus may not be streamlined enough for busy pizza operations|
Upserve’s pricing structure is unique. There is a single monthly subscription fee based on which functional tier you choose, plus a per-terminal fee. The baseline subscription (Upserve’s “Core” level) starts at $59 per month plus $60 per terminal for the software. It’s easy to see how your costs could add up. However, part of the reason it is easy to see is that Upserve lists more of its pricing publicly than competitors like Toast.
However, like Toast, Upserve is priced to compete with traditional legacy POS systems like MICROS, Aloha, and Positouch, and compared to those, Upserve’s pricing is competitive. Among cloud POS, however, Upserve is at the high end.
Upserve Pricing Plans
Monthly Per-terminal Charge
Live Mobile App
- Built-In: Using Upserve Payments is a required part of the Upserve POS.
- Custom Quoted: Rates vary by restaurant type and sales volume.
- Flat Rate: Custom quotes are a flat rate per transaction, which makes figuring your costs easy.
- Troubleshoot Anytime: Upserve’s 24/7/ year-round US-based customer support is part of the payments package.
- PCI-1 and EMV Compliant: Swiped, tapped, dipped, NFC, and card-not-present payments are all secure, reducing chargeback liability.
Upserve is an all-in-one restaurant POS solution. Restaurants that use Upserve will have to use Upserve’s in-house payment processing for credit, debit, and mobile wallet transactions. Upserve Payments offers a single flat rate for processing payments. Your quoted rate will vary, usually based on your card mix and sales volume.
When your POS provider is your payment processor, it means that you can’t shop around for the best rate. But it also means that you get 24/7 year-round US-based customer support for any payment-related issues. Before signing a service contract with Upserve, getting a few quotes from other merchant service providers is a good idea. If you find a lower rate elsewhere, Upserve will likely try to match or beat it.
- Android or iPad terminals: Choose the equipment you prefer.
- Handheld tablets: Allow for tableside ordering and payments.
- Kitchen Display System (KDS): Options for touch-screen tablets or monitors with bump bars.
- Contactless readers: EMV-compliant readers accept tapped credit, debit, and mobile wallet payments.
- Wireless networking: Networking routers extend Wi-Fi signals across your entire location, increasing POS speed and offline functionality.
Upserve POS operates on Android tablets or iPads. For best functionality, these tablets should be purchased through Upserve. However, it is possible to bring your own iPads and use Upserve’s comprehensive online Knowledge Center to guide you through setup.
Upserve is cloud-based, but you have the option to hardwire your Upserve terminals similar to a legacy POS setup. This increases offline functionality considerably—you’ll never lose kitchen communications when your internet goes down—but it can come with an installation fee of $1,700 or more. You also have the option to add handheld tablets equipped with contactless card readers.
Some Upserve users criticize the handheld tablets for being functionally limited. I find all handheld tablets suffer from this affliction. They are great for line-busting and quick order entry in quick-service environments and busy bars. However, the tiny screen on a handheld tablet will never act exactly like a larger POS terminal that simultaneously displays every table and several checks. Extensive menus with lots of courses and menu modifiers will always feel the effects of a handheld tablet’s smaller buttons and crunched screen.
Upserve POS Features
- Table Management: Create custom zones and floor plans that are tied to your various revenue centers.
- Check Management: Transfer bar tabs to tables and tables between servers. Split checks by seat number, split individual items across multiple checks, split payments and accept multiple payment types on the same check.
- Digital Ordering: In-house online ordering functions are included in the Pro and Pro Plus plans. Core plans can rely on third-party integrations or add in-house digital ordering.
- Contactless Options: Upserve tablets come equipped with EMV-compliant contactless readers. QR codes on printed receipts allow customers to scan and pay on personal smartphones.
- Available Integrations: Upserve plays nicely with delivery platforms, as well as accounting (including QuickBooks), payroll, and scheduling apps.
Functionally, Upserve is very similar to Toast. Both systems pitch themselves primarily as alternatives to mainline, locally installed POS systems like MICROS. The major difference between Upserve and Toast is in the more nuanced features and what modules each system offers in their baseline memberships. Upserve, for example, includes its Workforce and Marketing tools in its Core membership. Unlocking the system’s robust inventory features, however, requires upgrading to Pro or Pro Plus. Small restaurants that are more concerned with marketing than inventory will likely prefer Upserve.
Upserve is an all-in-one solution. Payments processing with contactless options is built in. Add-on modules to manage in-house delivery, inventory management, and detailed reporting are available. Upserve also offers several unique reports for tracking online reviews directly from the POS. If you use a third-party system that you love, chances are Upserve integrates. The system works with popular accounting, human resources, and delivery aggregators like QuickBooks, Gusto, and Chowly.
- Recipe costing: Entering recipes and ingredient information enables full-scale recipe costing reports to show each menu item’s profitability.
- Vendor management: The vendor log allows you to process purchase orders and invoices from a central dashboard.
- Low inventory alerts: Automated alerts let you know when supplies are low.
- One-click purchasing: Streamlined system allows you to place supply orders with a single click.
- Bar code scanning app: Count physical inventory and log new product as it arrives via a bar code scanning smartphone app.
Upserve’s inventory is effortless to navigate. You can bulk upload vendors and menu items via Excel, CSV, or ODS file. A quick download turns any smartphone into a barcode scanner to check in vendor deliveries or speed up physical inventory counts. You can set par and warning levels for your raw ingredients, and Upserve will alert you to place an order.
Like the rest of the Upserve ecosystem, the inventory module uses colors and other visual cues to illustrate information for at-a-glance analysis. Red, yellow, or green circles indicate stock levels; red is low, and green is good to go. The system also has a single “Top Up All” button that, when pressed, drafts orders for all ingredients below the par level. You can review the orders by vendor, then place them by clicking a single button. An integration with QuickBooks makes it easy to process vendor payments.
- Know your guests: Customer profiles log contact information to use in marketing campaigns. They also track spending habits, common orders, and the number of visits.
- Identify regulars: Daily, weekly, and monthly digest emails alert you to Notable Guests.
- Streamlined loyalty: Pro and Pro Plus subscribers can automatically track Loyalty members by credit/debit. card number. Multiple cards can be linked to a single Loyalty account.
- Customize criteria: Decide if your guests will earn a percent discount or cashback on future visits.
- Set minimums and maximums: Set minimum spend amounts to earn rewards and maximum reward limits that can be used per visit.
Core-level Upserve subscriptions include the ability to create guest logs and track the effectiveness of promotional campaigns. Upserve’s Guest Book feature automatically builds customer profiles whenever a guest uses a credit card to pay at your restaurant. If the same customer uses a different card to pay, the Upserve system will match the new card to the existing customer. The system tracks your top 100 customers automatically. You can also create a custom list based on ordering preferences or check averages to build targeted marketing campaigns.
Running a Loyalty and Rewards program on Upserve requires a Pro or Pro Plus subscription. With those features unlocked, however, running a loyalty program is a snap. Customers join via a website widget, a text, or a custom URL in an email or receipt footer. You can add a reward for signing up, as well as choose how to apply earned points. You can select whether customers are offered a percentage discount or a preset dollar amount on future visits. Minimum spending and maximum reward parameters are also customizable.
- Streamlined tip pooling: Tip pools can be customized by revenue center and employee role and based on sales or total tips.
- Labor cost controls: Real-time alerts track how many labor dollars you schedule.
- Customize communications: Send schedules via text or email.
- Control clock-ins: Lock your terminals to prevent early clock-ins.
Upserve includes employee management functions, like scheduling and clock-in controls, in the baseline Core membership. You can enter incredibly detailed employee roles and tip tracking information to automate tip distributions in the POS directly. Break and overtime tracking are well equipped to help you comply with California meal break and overtime laws. Upserve doesn’t yet have an alert designed to meet New York City’s “Spread of Hours” law to flag employees that are scheduled to return to work less than 10 hours after their last shift.
Upserve’s Workforce functions allow you to create schedules from scratch or create templates for your most-used scheduling patterns. You can share completed schedules with staff via email or text and create lists to send certain schedules only to relevant staff members. Upserve also has the option of controlling clock-in times so that you don’t overpay staff who clock in early. The scheduler shows you exactly how many labor dollars your schedule will cost, so you know if your plans align with your labor budget.
- Comprehensive: Basic sales, labor, product mix, profit and loss, and daily logs are included at all subscription tiers.
- Know what is working: Campaigns reporting tracks individual promotions so you can easily see where your advertising dollars are working.
- All your reviews in one place: Reputation Management reports track online reviews across sites so you can monitor your reputation from a central location.
- At-a-glance analysis: Callout boxes, vivid colors, and automated charts in reports allow your managers to assess the health of your restaurant quickly.
- Multiple reporting tiers: Higher level reports like Server Insights, Menu Insights, and recipe costing are available at higher tiers.
Upserve’s reporting module is called HQ, which is a part of all three subscription tiers, though the reporting functionality varies. Core memberships include basic reporting like daily sales, server close out, close-of-shift, and close-of-day reports. The Pro and Pro Plus tiers add more in-depth reports, many of which are unique to Upserve. This structure ensures that small operations don’t pay for analytics that they don’t use. On the other hand, it can create confusion about what reports are included at each tier.
Upserve Basic Reporting
- Sales, Product and Labor Reports: Enough reports to support daily operations are included. Since employee scheduling is part of the entry-level plan, labor cost reports are included too.
- Reputation Management: All Upserve customers can access the reputation management features.
- Marketing Reports: Since marketing is included in the baseline subscription, so are all the associated marketing reports.
- Live Mobile App: All HQ reports are available wherever you are via a mobile app.
Upserve’s Campaign report tracks events and promotions from theme nights to promo codes to help you determine if a promotion or advertising campaign was worth the investment. You can compare the dates you ran a campaign to similar dates in the past to compare the sales and traffic data, including new customer acquisitions. Reputation management logs all of your reviews on social media sites and peek at your competitors.
The most useful aspect of all Upserve’s reports is how easy they are to read. Upserve’s HQ synthesizes data into charts, graphs, and callout boxes, drawing your (and your team’s) attention to the most important information at a glance. Upserve’s reports are a real pleasure to read and analyze.
Pro and Pro Plus Reporting
- Custom Reports: Pro Plus customers can build custom reports with the assistance of the Upserve team.
- Menu Insights: Upserve’s Magic Quadrant report allows you to see your menu item performance at a glance, similar to Toast’s menu management reports.
- Server Insights: This report itemizes server and bartender sales patterns to help you identify top performers and training opportunities.
- Inventory Related Reports: Recipe costing and real-versus-actual food costing reports are part of the inventory module that is included.
At the Pro and Pro Plus levels, Upserve offers more in-depth reporting. These reports cover staff productivity and menu item performance and allow you to create custom reports. Like Upserve’s baseline reports, the Pro and Pro Plus level reports pre-analyze a lot of your data. Instead of combing through product mix reports and comparing each dish to its individual food cost, you can pull a Menu Insight report that compares all that data and presents it on a scannable grid.
Restaurants with large staffs will particularly enjoy the Server Insights report that illustrates front-of-house staff productivity. This report uses a dynamic color-coded theme to show how well individual staff sell various menu categories like entrees, desserts, wine, and beer. This allows you to easily identify training opportunities and even pair staff who need improvement with a trainer who excels in the precise area they need to strengthen.
Upserve Ease of Use
- Training Mode: Upserve users love the fully functional training mode that allows new staff to drill into Upserve’s functions without messing up the day’s sales.
- Visual Ecosystem: Various colors and symbols on reports and order screens communicate tons of information at a glance.
- Intuitive Layout: Buttons and menus seem to fall naturally where you expect them. Screens are highly responsive and satisfying to use.
- Streamlined Screens: Screens feature a minimal layout with additional tabs on the right-hand side to speed navigation.
Upserve is, hands-down, one of the most comfortable restaurant POS systems to use. Upserve customers frequently mention how quickly their staff can learn the system. The streamlined screens with intuitive layouts make this a POS you can sail through. In the back office, vivid colors and navigation bars keep you oriented. In the vendor dashboard, vendors are listed by their company logos, so you can quickly pick the right one from the lineup.
Restaurants that rely on a KDS will find Upserve’s offering a bit antiquated. Rather than using the dynamic touch-screen design of other Upserve displays, the KDS relies on stripped-down Epson monitors. These are hardier in hot kitchen environments, but they don’t have the broad functionality and productivity insights that competitors like Toast provide. Upserve’s recent purchase by Lightspeed (which has one of our favorite KDSes) could change this, however.
Upserve Restaurant Software Alternatives
Upserve is an excellent system, but it might not be the best fit for every restaurant type. An all-in-one POS with locked-in payment processing and a particular focus on marketing tools isn’t going to be for everyone.
Still not hitting the mark? Check out our full ranking of the best POS systems for small businesses.
What Users Think of Upserve POS
Upserve users show a lot of love for this restaurant POS system. Many reviews describe Upserve as the easiest to use restaurant POS system the reviewer has encountered. Experts also give Upserve high marks for ease of use and dynamic, streamlined reporting. The KDS module might be an acquired taste, though; users either love or hate its simplicity. Meanwhile, some negative reviews also mention signing up for Upserve during a promotion and finding that the system was too pricey when they reverted to paying full-freight.
- G2: Lists Upserve as a summer 2021 Leader, rated 4.1 out of 5 based on more than 85 user reviews.
- Capterra: Upserve is listed in the Top 20 Restaurant Software of 2021 and earns a star rating of 4.4 out of 5 based on some 270 user reviews.
Users Don’t Like:
Incredibly easy to read reports and user-friendly interface
KDS is less streamlined than the rest of the Upserve system
Unique reports like Reputation Management, Server Insights, and Menu Insights give a 360-degree view of your restaurant
Promotional pricing deals sometimes leave customers with sticker shock when they expire
Workforce management and marketing tools are included in the baseline system
Inventory is available only at higher subscription tiers
Third-party integrations can further customize the system
System can get pricey with multiple add-ons
Quick functions for payment processing, particularly for splitting invoices
Occasional connection failures of the payment processor.
Very helpful customer service
Frequent internet connectivity issues
Upserve is one of the easiest restaurant POS systems to use. Insightful use of color and visual cues make the back office, in particular, incredibly quick to learn. Upserve is a great fit for small restaurants that are more concerned with marketing and customer acquisition than inventory tracking. However, medium- to high-volume restaurants that can afford the higher subscription tiers will find the most streamlined inventory system available in a cloud POS. To see if it is a fit for your restaurant, contact Upserve for a full walk-through.