How to Choose the Best Ice Cream and Yogurt Shop POS System

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Ice cream parlor history

As the old chant goes "we all scream for ice cream"! And it's been that way for a very long time. Early accounts from China tell of a frozen milk and rice dessert from as early as 200 AD, that was highly prized. Marco Polo is said to have brought ice cream from China to Italy, where it became gelato.

In the 1600s it made its way across the courts of Europe, enjoyed by royalty and wealthy merchants as a status symbol. In America, the first presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both were big fans of ice cream, spending some serious coin on the delicious cold treat. And so it was for many years - a prized delicacy not available to the masses.

That is, until the advancement of commercial refrigeration technology. Throughout the 1900s, ice cream parlors and stands spread out across America serving the elegant dish in upscale venues. After WWII, as US manufacturing turned from wartime production to the consumer market, the luxury of ice cream became available to the average person.

In every corner drug store, diner and lunch counter was served a variety of frosty treats based on ice cream. In this golden age of ice cream parlors, malt shops, and soda fountains, many of the happy traditions and fond memories we associate with ice cream were established.

Types of cold treat concepts

When it comes to dessert restaurants serving cold and frozen treats, ice-cream set the stage, but others have come along to rival the standard and provide guests with more options. We can consider cold and frozen treat restaurant concepts that fit into two broad categories, traditional and modern.

Traditional - While many traditional ice cream parlors closed in the 70's and 80's as consumers were able to stock their home refrigerators with ice cream, some remain as icons of the past. Also, a new crop of artisanal ice cream shops have sprung up, catering to those looking for unique tastes and high-quality ingredients.

Malt shop / Soda fountain

In the minds of consumers, the traditional malt shops and soda fountains are closely associated with the youth culture of the 1950s. Checkerboard floors and jukeboxes. A "malt" is ice cream served with malted milk; a sweetened powder made of milk and grain. An ice cream soda or "float" is ice cream mixed with flavored syrup and carbonated water or a pre-mixed soda like Coca-Cola.

Candy Store

Because of their association with "the good old days" and deeply cherished childhood memories, some ice cream parlors also feature a selection of old-time candies, such as toffees and penny-candy. Adults who are hoping to relive some of the magic of youth and a desire to pass on similar memories to the next generation of what it's like to be "a kid in a candy store." Candies offered in the store can be crushed and used as a topping, such as toffee chunks.

Diner / Lunch counter

These retro-inspired dining establishments offer fast-casual dining, hearty American-classic meals and ordering from a bar or counter. A diner may offer ice cream topped cakes and pies, sundaes and big frosty milkshakes. Everyone loves a shake with a burger and fries!

ModernThe model that started with the ice cream parlor isn't restricted to just one tasty cold dessert. Innovators have put a twist on the concept, offering new selections in the same vein as the ice cream shop but appealing to the tastes of discriminating consumers who have different preferences. Most notable is frozen yogurt or "froyo," but there are new challengers in the arena as well!

Frozen yogurt

When frozen yogurt first took off in the 80’s it was because health conscious people were looking to reduce their fat intake by replacing ice cream. Recently, there has been another frozen yogurt boom this time fully embracing yogurt's unique tartness by adding fresh fruits and other toppings in a self-serve model. Frozen yogurt is smooth and sweet like ice cream but without fewer calories and an air of healthfulness. It can be scooped or pumped soft-serve style depending on the type being served.


Another choice for the health conscious consumer, fruit smoothies are halfway between health food and a cold dessert. Blending together fresh, natural ingredients these drinks have found a place in the lifestyle of many people. With the addition of "energy shots" and wheat grass, they aren't just tasty; they can be good for you! Because they're not looked at as unhealthy, guests are willing to order them more frequently.

Boba (bubble) tea

A new cold treat that is growing in popularity. It started as tea mixed with tapioca and became a hit in Taiwan. And it didn't stop there! Massive interest in this fun drink has been seen throughout the US as well. Tea is mixed with flavorings, sometimes with milk and sometimes without, but most important to the drink are chewy tapioca balls that sit at the bottom, giving this treat a distinctly different appeal regarding both taste and visual aesthetic.

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Choosing a POS system for frozen yogurt shops, ice cream parlors, and other cold treat concepts

Whether you’re selling boba milk tea, shaved ice, smoothies, yogurt or ice cream, there are certain food service business realities that you have to manage. When choosing a POS for your ice cream parlor, keep these challenges in mind. Understand how your restaurant point of sale system will help you make the most of your business, helping you do more with your valuable time and resources.

Reliable Hardware - The best point of sale for ice cream restaurants and yogurt shops must be reliable. iPad POS apps are the most reliable because they use the Apple iPad as the base. Apple makes the best quality and most easy to use tablets, so it's an easy choice to make.

Standardized, compatible hardware that is well tested and proven in the field ensures quality and reliability; as opposed to a system that uses proprietary or in-house designed equipment. This keeps you from painful struggles caused by poor engineering or design flaws that aren't discovered until later.

Choose the most reliable tablet POS system for your restaurant; iPad based point of sale. An iPad tablet based point of sale will save you money right off the bat because it's based on a reliable standard.

Controlling Costs - Costs control is one of the most important restaurant management duties. One of the most significant ways to reduce costs is to use an affordable POS solution. Monthly fees, service fees, processing fees, those all add up fast along with your other costs. It's important to keep reoccurring costs down for your business. They may seem like minor costs but added together they can be death by 1000 cuts.

Avoid confusingly written long term contracts. When you're choosing a restaurant POS for your ice cream or yogurt shop, make sure to look at the fine print. And by all means, don't get locked into a long term, high-cost merchant services account, no matter how much you think you like what you see now, nothing is worth being locked into an expensive contract. Choose a POS system for your smoothie or yogurt shop that allows you to have a short term contract, so you know the POS company cares about and values your business. They must prove their service is the best at all times.

Ease of Use and Speed - Training young and inexperienced staff is just part of running a food service business. As an ice cream parlor or yogurt shop manager, you may be dealing with students working summer jobs or be giving someone their first job working a cash register. It only makes sense that you want to choose a POS system for restaurants that’s easy for staff to use. The easiest POS system makes training and setup simple. It makes ordering fast and intuitive. Training your staff on a counter service POS system shouldn’t take all day, it should take minutes! You have more important things to manage than cashiers that are running into problems. Choosing an intuitive tablet based POS app that works the way you would expect it to means there is no need to constantly ask for a manager to help.

And that's how it increases speed. With the fastest point of sale for yogurt shops, it's just a few taps, and you're done. Orders are accurate and quick. We all know how kids can be impatient, so keeping that line moving is super important. Before the kids can get fussy, the customer is paying, on their way and enjoying their favorite treat.

Sales and Inventory Management - And part of keeping customers happy and moving through the lines is having the right amount of stock. Inventory control is an important part of the ice cream parlor business that can not be overstated. Sales tracking and inventory management help inform every business decision you make. Do you know how many bags of chocolate chips do you need to purchase in the middle of October? Using historical sales data and ingredient inventory tracking, you can see how much was used last year, and the year before - so you won't be over-buying supplies during the slower season this year.

Inventory management also helps you audit portioning. You don't want to calculate the cost based on a portion size and have it end up being wrong. Just based on dipping cabinet temperature, you can directly affect your profit. It's better to know when something is off during an inventory audit than it is to find out on your financial statement!

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Key yogurt shop and soda fountain POS features

Affordability - The most affordable restaurant POS system is one that helps you control the cost by showing you upfront exactly how much it will cost, with no hidden fees for support or service. Using off the shelf, standard compatible hardware and doesn’t require you to buy your equipment through them. This way you get the best price, period!

Another must for choosing an affordable POS solution is to choose a point of sale system with the lowest processing fees - and without gateway fees! All those fees add up quickly, and when you're only making a few cents profit, you can't afford to get scooped by a high cost for credit card processing.

Offline Payments - Having the ability to capture your guest’s credit card payment details even without internet access is a very important feature for an iPad point of sale system. Choosing a POS with offline processing mode means you won’t be putting your customer through the embarrassment of having their credit card declined, making your staff ask for a different payment type (that the guest may not have) or having to comp the item and take a loss. When working offline, you configure the settings to accept as much or as little as you like and the system automatically submits payment information when you’re back online.

Taxes and accounting - No one likes doing taxes, and when the time comes you want to be ready. Accountants charge by the hour, so you want to choose the best ice cream shop POS to work with Quickbooks and Excel. The best POS tablet system includes extensive reporting and exports compatible files for use in accounting software like Excel and Quickbooks.

Customer Service - The customer service provided by the POS company is just as important when choosing a POS. It doesn't help you at all if you can't get ahold of tech support when you need them. You can't afford to be stuck on hold or waiting for a call back when you need answers now. Because service is your priority, you need a POS company that values you, so that you can provide the best experience to your smoothie shop or other cold treats shop.

Sales and Labor in Real Time - Tracking sales and labor are major aspects of your frozen dessert or bubble-tea service counter. The best POS for ice cream parlors lets you add a user and set an hourly rate. The system automatically calculates the labor cost based on hours worked and overtime. You can see a running live update of labor cost as the minutes tick by. Always know what your labor cost is so you can balance it with sales. Access live sales data by viewing orders as they come in, so you always know how well the shop is doing and if you've hit the ROI / breakeven point for the day.

Cash Management - Using a compatible cash drawer, the best POS for yogurt and smoothie shops allows you to track and audit your cash by helping you manage the cash drawer securely. Add notes for pay-in, pay-out and get an audit report that shows discrepancies. Reduce the incentive for employee-based "shrink" by providing accountability.

User Permission Levels - Another way that security is enforced is through user permission levels that deny access to certain functions if the POS user isn't given permission. The most secure POS system for restaurants ensures that only authorized users are providing discounts and can delete items or void orders. This capability, combined with ingredient level inventory audits provides another level of accountability in case things don't add up!

Time clocks - When users clock in using their secure PIN number or access card, the most secure iPad point of sale for restaurants takes their photo and stores it in the cloud it with the punch log. This keeps employees from sharing their PIN, clocking each other in, or having any question about who took their break and who didn't. When it's time for payroll, simply export the labor report into your preferred payroll system for easy and accurate employee paychecks.

Payment options and Gift cards - The best POS system for ice cream parlors and yogurt shops takes your guest's preferred forms of payment without a hassle. Whether it's cash or check, EMV chip-card payments, mag-swipe or new payment options like contactless NFC and mobile pay options like Apple Pay and Android Pay. Guests like it when you can take the payment methods that they prefer, and give them options.

This includes the ability to take gift cards. Cold desserts like ice cream, frozen yogurt, smoothies and boba tea are special treats that bring a smile to people's face. When they can make a gift out of your menu items, it helps spread the joy and recognition for your business. And guests are sure to spend more on their trip when using ice cream parlor gift cards as well! Choose an iPad POS system for restaurants that take gift cards and open your business to the growing market of gift-card fans.

Choosing the best POS company

The most important thing to consider when choosing a frozen yogurt or ice cream shop point of sale system is getting to know the company behind it. After all, it’s not just the app that you’re purchasing - you are also purchasing a service. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much the company promises or how many features they show you if they leave you hanging out to dry when you need help.

Choose the POS system for frozen dessert restaurants that has a strong and committed team backing you up all the way. Choose the best point of sale company for restaurants that have experience in the restaurant business and an appreciation for the small business owners who work tirelessly to achieve the American dream, like you.

This guide covered how to choose the best POS for your frozen yogurt shop or ice cream parlor. If you keep the key features in mind and how they address the primary concerns facing owners of cold treat concept restaurants then you’ll be sure you’re choosing the easiest to use, most affordable, most secure POS system from the company with the best service.

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