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Restaurant industry experts have seen a massive shift in 2024 toward iPad-based POS systems. In the Mobile POS Payments market, the number of users is expected to amount to 101.10m users by 2028. With most restaurateurs adopting a more agile and flexible system, you’d better prepare! 

While there are several different methods of implementing cloud-based restaurant POS systems, preserving the human touch is essential. Giving your servers access to iPad-based ordering systems is one of the most effective ways to streamline workflows on the floor. 

These systems are more affordable than a legacy POS across the board. As your business grows, they’re also scalable to meet your needs. From single-location operations to multi-location restaurant groups, they’re a perfect fit. 

Choosing the right system to meet your needs is challenging. So many platforms share similar features that it’s hard to narrow it down.  

We’ve created The Ultimate Guide to Choosing an iPad POS System to help! You’ll find information about everything in our guide, from hardware and key features to cost and security considerations.   

If you’re ready to join the digital revolution that’s taking the industry by storm, you’re in the right place! 

We’ll cover: 

Key considerations for choosing an iPad POS system 

Beginning the research phase of your search, you’ll see that many systems have similarities in their core features. You may feel overwhelmed by the choices in front of you, but there are some factors that you need to consider first.  


At CAKE, we love the iPad platform for its stability and flexibility. They’re durable and flexible enough to go from fast casual to fine dining. We recommend purchasing the newest version for longevity, as Apple doesn’t support its older models. 

When choosing which iPad family product to use in your restaurant, size is a consideration. Larger models can be more difficult for servers to handle, but ultimately, the choice is yours. In the kitchen, though, bigger is better. Your team needs to have a clear view of orders coming in so they can fulfill them accurately. 

You won’t need a cellular connection if you have a powerful router in your restaurant. However, if you’re working curbside, you’ll want to ensure your connection will cover the whole service area. 

The current models offered by Apple are all ideal for use in the restaurant environment. With the right accessories, they’re the perfect handheld, portable POS. However, it’s worth considering whether you prefer a fixed terminal for your POS system or a cloud-based solution. Cloud-based POS systems have more longevity than iPad POS systems and help streamline updates to the supporting iPad POS handhelds, which can be an important area for distinction within restaurant hardware solutions. CAKE’s tableside tablet ordering app is compatible on the iPad Mini 6. 


Along with tablets, you’ll need some basic accessories to support your growth. 

  • Stands – At your hosting station or counter service area, you’ll want durable stands to hold the tablets. You’ll want something that can rotate so that customers can complete their transactions in the POS without the need for a printer. 
  • Holsters and straps – Servers love having a holster and strap so they don’t have tablets flying around. Consider something that’s comfortable and easy to use. 
  • Card readers – Many of the iPad cases designed for use in the restaurant industry come equipped with swipe, tap, and chip reader functions built in. For quick and easy payouts, they’re essential. 
  • Printers – With an iPad POS system, printers are optional. However, if you need them, look for models that are Wi-Fi-enabled or support AirPrint.

Data security and device management 

When your customers complete their transactions using your system, frequently, they share more than just credit card information. You may also have access to their email, address, and phone number. Protecting customer data and having the right systems in place is essential. 

Ideally, your system needs SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protection and point-to-point encryption (P2PE). Your system must also be PCI DSS compliant for credit card transactions. 

Devices are susceptible to malware and security breaches as well. Train your staff to only use these iPads for restaurant business as personal can open the door to malicious actors. 

Software features 

Most iPad restaurant POS systems offer subscription-based feature sets. Essential functions are standard, but there are other options available for higher-tier accounts. 

Core features 

Here are some of the most common core features of every cloud-based restaurant POS system. 

  • Menu management – You should be able to load your menu directly into your POS and make changes on the fly. With servers wielding the most up to date menu in their hands, there is less room for error with ordering items that are out of stock or unavailable.  
  • Order taking – Servers using iPads to take orders is one of the prime reasons for adopting an iPad system. They should have easy access to the menu and modifier screens to expedite the process. 
  • Payment processing – Tableside ordering systems allow your patrons to payout quickly without handing over their payment information. They can tip and even leave a quick review before having their receipt emailed or messaged to them. 
  • Reporting – All your restaurant data goes through the POS system. Sales, inventory, and staffing can all be managed and analyzed with the options offered by your provider. 

Advanced features 

While not available at lower-tier subscriptions, some of the best features allow you to do much more than process orders. 

  • Table management – Table management blends seamlessly into your waitlist and reservation functions. You can track where diners are in their experience and prepare your staff for quick turnovers. Additionally, you can shift seating easily to adapt to special events or upticks in customer flow. 
  • Customer loyalty programs – With all the customer data you have on hand, it’s simple to implement and track customer loyalty programs. You can plan and execute birthday offers and redeem points in the app. 
  • Online ordering – With so many businesses moving to online ordering, incorporating this into your business model makes sense. Many POS systems integrate with third-party apps; some support direct in-house ordering system. 
  • Kitchen displays – For maximum efficiency, you need kitchen displays to give your staff a heads-up view of incoming orders. With iPad-based ordering systems, they populate seamlessly into your prep areas. 

Integration capabilities 

The right ordering system for your business includes integrations with existing software. Data should be able to migrate from your accounting, inventory, staffing, and delivery platforms without a hitch. 


Because most iPad restaurant POS systems are cloud-based, they operate on a monthly subscription basis. After setup, you’ll typically pay between $60 and $300 a month for support.  

Hardware is the most expensive piece of implementing a new system in your restaurant. Each company provides different options for piecing out your needs, and you’ll work with a specialist to calculate actual costs. 

CAKE’s restaurant POS works on a transparent subscription model so you won’t be surprised by hidden fees. You’ll have three packages to choose from, and most include hardware as part of your bundle. 

  • Essentials – $69/month  
  • With this package, you can access POS hardware, menu management, payment processing, 24/7 support, QR code payment capabilities, and the CAKE University training portal. 
  • Plus – $125/month 
  • With this package, you’ll get everything in the Essentials plan plus commission-free online ordering and gift cards. 
  • Pro – $295/month 
  • With this package, you’ll get everything in the Plus plan along with marketing, customer loyalty programs, and the guest manager. 

Check out the full features of each program to compare. 

With CAKE, you know exactly what you’re paying, but if you go with another vendor, take time to negotiate your contract. You can ask for different pricing options based on your volume, payment methods, loyalty, and contract length. 

Ease of use 

The best iPad restaurant POS systems are user-friendly and intuitive. Your staff should have access to all necessary screens quickly and be able to modify and update orders easily. For customer-facing applications, consider that they shouldn’t have to make choices about what to do. Your system should be clear and easy to follow. 

Training and customer support 

Training is an essential part of successfully implementing your new POS system. Your staff should feel confident in their abilities to operate the software in a high-stress restaurant environment. The best systems provide opportunities for ongoing learning. 

Customer support is an essential piece when things go wrong. You don’t want to reach a chatbot when closing the bar at 2 am, so human support, 24/7, is ideal. 

CAKE by Mad Mobile provides access to our online CAKE University learning library and around-the-clock support! 

Do your research before signing a contract, and you’ll have access to a robust learning environment and world-class customer support from day one. 


Building a relationship with your patrons is one of the most enjoyable parts of operating a restaurant. An essential part of the process is establishing trust with your regulars. The amount of data you gather about your customers requires special care regarding security features. 

As we mentioned, there are several security protocols that are industry standards. The most important features to look for in your cloud-based restaurant POS are SSL data protection and compliance with PCI DSS standards for credit card transactions. 

Even with the best systems in place, the weakest link in the chain is often the human element. Staff should be aware of how important it is not to leave devices lying around where they can be tampered with. Make sure every device has a strong password to protect them from prying eyes. Additionally, don’t use them for other purposes beyond the restaurant environment.  

Your app is secure, but navigating away can open you up to data breaches. 

Even major chains like Chick-fil-A are susceptible to cyber-attacks. In 2023, investigators discovered that hackers accessed customer information from over 71,000 users. When you put your customer data in a third-party POS server’s hands, you must trust their commitment to data protection. 

Keep your apps updated with the most current software version to avoid devastating security breaches. Developers constantly assess security threats and push out patches for known issues.  


The best iPad POS systems can expand to meet your restaurant’s growth and changing needs. Most can scale to any number of devices and configurations. Because you’re not purchasing a legacy system that’s expensive to maintain, you can add new features and devices to your plan as needed. 

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry has enjoyed record growth, and is forecast to reach $1 trillion in sales in 2024.  Most adults love dining out, but the number of people ordering online or for curbside pickup is increasing. If you’ve implemented an iPad ordering system that supports online and curbside, you’re poised to catch the wave! 

Customer support 

As we mentioned, customer support is an essential part of a cloud-based POS system in your restaurant. Beyond convenience, if your team doesn’t know how to handle issues, they could cause larger security issues. 

When choosing your system, look for a responsive and live support team. You should be able to reach a live person 24/7 through phone, email, and live chat. Check customer reviews to see how the customer support team performs. 

CAKE provides full customer support for your team through all three channels around the clock.  

Additional factors to consider 

Beyond the features we’ve already discussed, there are some other factors to consider when choosing the ideal system for your establishment. 

Industry-specific features:  

Different restaurants have different needs, and your POS system should adapt to fit your configuration. Bars and breweries need the capacity to leave open tabs for their patrons in a way fine dining establishments don’t. Kiosks might be a great solution for your fast-casual spot, but a small cafe may only need one POS tablet. 

Work with an account specialist to determine exactly what you need for your eatery. They can help design a configuration that meets your needs. 


When you’ve spent years working with software systems for accounting, staffing, inventory, and payroll, it’s sometimes easier to hold onto them than move into a new system. The best cloud-based POS systems integrate seamlessly with your existing business software. This provides easy integration and new insights!  

If you’re unsure whether your apps will work with CAKE, check out our list of integration partners. 

Free trials and demos 

The last thing you want with a new POS system is buyer’s remorse. Chat with your service rep to see if they offer free trials or demos with the software. If they don’t, look for POS providers with clear transparency in pricing. 

Schedule your free demo with CAKE by Mad Mobile today!

Tips for reviewing popular iPad POS systems 

Now that you’ve narrowed your list of potential POS systems, it’s time to compare features. We’ve outlined the key features already for you, but here’s a recap of what to look for to enhance customer service and profitability.  

  • Waitlist and reservations – You want a system that allows you to manage your reservations and waitlist effectively. It should be able to message diners when tables are opening up and give your staff real-time information about where your patrons are in the process.  
  • Online ordering – Online ordering is a popular way for your customers to pick up dinner on the way home or get ahead of the rush for an office lunch. Ensure your preferred cloud-based POS system offers this so you aren’t caught without it. 
  • Digital menu – Save paper and time with a digital menu. Easily updated, you can even tie your menu directly into the inventory management system to pull hot-ticket items before they’re gone. 
  • Tableside payment processing – Payment processing at the table is an essential function for tableside ordering systems. With faster payment, you can turn tables quickly and see increased sales over time. 
  • Inventory management – When you’ve got a new special on the menu, running out is embarrassing and disappointing. Keep track of ingredients and inventory with the powerful features in most iPad POS systems. You’ll also save time when compiling your weekly orders with real ingredient levels and usage data. 

Taken together, these features can improve the efficiency of your restaurant and provide you with vital insights. 


Technology-driven changes to how the restaurant industry does business aren’t going anywhere. Choosing the right iPad POS system for your restaurant is essential for you to reap the benefits of these powerful analytical tools. You’ll increase your staff efficiency, customer satisfaction, inventory management, and bottom line! 

When choosing the right system for your establishment, research is the most essential tool in your toolbox. Spend time assessing the needs of your business and see which features you can’t live without. Ultimately, the right system is a scalable and flexible way to grow your business.   

At Mad Mobile, we have decades of experience in the restaurant industry. We’ve developed a deep knowledge of trends and what tools are the most important for your growing business. That’s why we developed CAKE as the most comprehensive and flexible cloud-based POS system on the market. Our best-in-class customer service and thousands of happy customers prove that experience and innovation matter.  

For more information about the role technology plays in the future of the restaurant industry, check out The Ring Up!  

And if you’re ready to make your first move into this exciting future, contact us today. 

Learn more about tableside ordering and schedule a demo today!

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