Restaurants are fast-moving work environments in which delays and missteps can quickly snowball and result in poor customer experience. Bizzon provides an essential role in reducing risk and effort by connecting the front-of-the-house with bars and the kitchen into a single system. Printers play a crucial part in this system.
However, not all printers are equally suited for all purposes and functions in a restaurant environment. There are important differences between different POS printers for restaurants. Front-of-the house receipt printer might not be an ideal solution for the kitchen environment.
This article discusses two important characteristics of restaurant POS printers which should help you in choosing the best printer solution for your business.
There are two main types of POS printers based on the printing technology they use: thermal and impact printers. While both types can perform pretty much the same functions, they have important differences.
The most important distinction is the way they print. Impact (a.k.a dot-matrix) printers rely on a print head covered in precisely placed pins. Print head pins impact the ink ribbon which results in patterns of tiny dots on paper. The advantage of the ink ribbon is that it supports two colours (black and red) which can be used to highlight different elements of the order ticket. Additionally, impact printers are much better suited for the hot and humid kitchen environment because they rely on ink and use bond paper which is resistant to humidity and extreme temperatures. They are also quite loud which is an upside in a busy kitchen. On the downside, impact printers are slower and noisier than their thermal counterparts, which makes them less suitable for the front-of-the-house functions.
Thermal printers on the other hand usually have a more modern design and compact size than impact printers. They are also faster and less noisy. Thermal printers rely on the thermal head which exerts heat on the thermal paper roll resulting in clear, high-resolution, images. Thermal printers are well suited for printing out the customer receipts with your business logo.
As a rule of thumb, think of thermal printers as best suited for various front-of-the-house, reception and bar settings. Impact printers, on the other hand, are best suited for kitchen or cold storage environments.
Connectivity options supported by a printer is the second most important thing to consider. Different connection types are suited for different purposes. Bizzon supports the following modes of connection for printers:
USB printers offer a stable wired connection between a single POS Terminal and a printer. This is optimal for places where the printer does not need to be shared by multiple devices and where POS terminal is stationary. An example application is a bar till with a stationary tablet used for taking payments and/or placing drinks orders. In case USB connection is the only connection type supported by the printer it would be able to accept print orders only from a single terminal to which it is connected.
USB might have a small advantage over Bluetooth in terms of speed and stability but not by a significant margin. Apart from being able to connect only to a single device, another disadvantage of USB over Bluetooth, Ethernet or Wi-Fi is the capture of the single USB port available on mobile devices. This port might be better used for connecting a charger instead of the USB cable for the printer.
Exception to these limitations are modern POS printers with multiple connectivity options such as mC-Print2 and mC-Print3 thermal printers which combine the advantages of each of the connection types.
Bluetooth printers offer a significant degree of flexibility and autonomy, however, their major drawback is that they do not scale well. BT printers are great for smaller venues with a distance between the terminal and the printer up to 10-15 meters. Shortcomings of BT printers become evident at larger venues with multiple outlets, points of sale and places for order printouts. Major limitations for BT technology are distance and number of devices that can share a single printer. While ideal for small to medium venues, for larger venues Bluetooth printers should be used only as a fallback in situations where it is impossible to set up network printers.
Mobile printers are the type of printer in which Bluetooth technology excels. Mobile printers are used for mobile points of sale. They are characterized by power autonomy and smaller footprint and can be fitted into a larger pocket.
Network printers (Ethernet and WiFI)
Network printers are the best solution for medium to large venues. They offer the greatest versatility, in as much you can have the greatest flexibility and performance while using just a few printers.
There are cabled and wireless network printers. In both cases, a local network with broadband WAN and WiFI capabilities is required.
Cabled network printers (aka Ethernet or LAN printers) run a UTP cable (aka Ethernet cable) from the printer to the router, or to a network switch and then to the main router. Each printer will need its own Ethernet port if connected straight to the router. This type of connection offers the greatest stability, performance and flexibility of configuration. A disadvantage is a fact that a cable needs to be spread from printer to the router, which is inconvenient for some venues. However, if technically possible, it is always recommended to go with cabled network printers.
In case the cabled version is not possible the fallback is the wireless network printer. In theory, wireless offers the same performance as the cabled, but in practice, there are many possible obstacles that can hinder its functioning. In a nutshell, the performance of a Wi-Fi network depends on the radio signal strength and the number of connected devices sharing the signal. In case the wireless option is chosen please take the following considerations:
- Is the signal strength satisfactory in all rooms and spots where orders and payments might be made? If there are multiple sites without seamless spatial connection (cellar, floor, upper floor, balcony, terrace) and multiple columns, walls with reinforced concrete and other physical obstacles, the signal might be uneven. A poor or interruptive signal can have a major impact on the performance of the system. You can use an app like Wifi Analyzer to run a test of the signal across the venue.
- Is there a designated staff network separate from the one used by the guests? Public wireless network shared by many users is a poor choice for supporting the POS system. A separate private network should be set up for this purpose. Having a separate staff network closed to the public is generally a great idea regardless of the printer setup.
How do the terminals communicate with the network printers? Both in the cabled and wireless variants, the communication is established by virtue of being connected to the same network. If the terminals are connected to a different network than the printers, printing will not be possible. Note also that network printers require fixed IP addresses. This is best set up by the implementer at the venue, however, we do have remote access options for setting up the complete routing provided the physical equipment has been correctly placed and connected.
Supported Thermal Receipt Printers
|USB, Bluetooth||Star Micronics||mPOP|
|USB||Epson||TM-m10 (USB models)|
|USB||Epson||TM-T20II (USB models)|
|USB||Epson||TM-T88 (USB models)|
|USB||Epson||TM-m30 (USB models)|
|Ethernet||Epson||TM-m10 (Ethernet models)|
|Bluetooth||Epson||TM-m10 (Bluetooth models)|
|Bluetooth||Epson||TM-T20 (Bluetooth models)|
|Bluetooth||Epson||TM-T88 (Bluetooth models)|
|Bluetooth, Ethernet, and USB||Star Micronics||mC-Print2|
|Bluetooth, Ethernet, and USB||Star Micronics||mC-Print3|
Supported Kitchen Order Printers
|USB, Ethernet||Star Micronics||SP512|
|USB, Ethernet||Star Micronics||SP542|
|USB, Ethernet||Star Micronics||SP712|
|USB, Ethernet||Star Micronics||SP742|
Supported Mobile Printers