What is a POS System?

December 24th, 2020 by Loyalty Sense Inc.

A POS, or Point of Sale is the hub of where all sales activity happens. It is where the customer makes payments and the merchant accepts. A POS System is a combination of software and hardware solutions to assist at the point of sale. POS systems can comprise of a computer to calculate and store all sales-related data, along with multiple hardware equipment such as a display screen to showcase transactions, a payment terminal (i.e. pin pads) to accept credit card transactions, cash drawers to store cash, barcode scanners, receipt or kitchen printers and others depending on a business’ needs. 

What is a POS System?

What is a POS Software Solution?

As mentioned before, a Point of Sales system includes a software component which is custom-built to a business’ needs. For example, a restaurant may have a software programmed for their menu items, while a retail store may have a point-of-sale software solution, which, at a basic level, can manage inventories. Even then, depending on the restaurant type, software solutions have to be configured differently. For example, a Pizza restaurant may require POS software features that can help select different toppings on different parts of the pizza, while a Sushi restaurant would require software features such as order variations, table-side ordering, etc.

Additionally, the software component of a point-of-sale system accommodates a combination of many desired tools such as inventory management, clock in/out to manage employees, or at a basic level, to ring in products or services. Software components of a POS system can be on-premise, cloud-based, or can even be a hybrid model.

What is Point of Sale Hardware?

There are multiple components of Point of Sale hardware, such as a point-of-sale display screen for the user interface as well as to view transactions, cash drawers, scanners, printers, and payment processing terminals also known as pin pads.  Let’s look at them individually:

1. POS Screens or Displays​

These are used to interact with the POS software to display products and services a merchant has to offer through its pre-programmed databases which are custom-built for each business’ requirement and or location. Screens also have interface features like clock in/out for the employee management, and or other features like having visual access to live surveillance footage, transactions summaries etc.

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2. Cash Drawer

The name says it all; they are cash drawers, most of us have seen one of these at least once in our lifetime! Cash drawers are used to store cash but can be more sophisticated in terms of security features and vary in terms of sizes, slots and capacity. With an exception for COVID-19, cash is one of the most frequently used payment methods globally. Despite the gradual progression towards virtual currencies [credit cards, e-wallets, prepaid cards, etc], 80% of POS transactions in Europe and 31% in North America are conducted in Cash. Additionally, even with the rise of online purchases in Asia, more than 3 out of 4 online purchases are paid in cash upon delivery (Rolfe, 2018). In other words, “Cash Is King”

3. Barcode Scanner

Barcode scanners help with efficiently adding products into the point of sale system by scanning a product’s information from the barcode, matching it to the database and adding the cost of the product automatically into checkout’s total. We can also integrate scanners with POS computers and can help with inventory management.

4. Thermal Printer

Receipt printers provide a quick physical copy of a transaction summary containing products or services purchased for both merchant and customers. Although there is a slight migration towards eco-friendly email receipts, most merchants still practice having a paper copy.

5. Payment Processing Terminal or PinPad

One of the most important tools that transfer revenues or those dollar bills into your bank account from your customers’ is the payment processing terminal. Also known as the “PinPad” and or a “debit credit machine”. These terminals allow customers to swipe, insert, or tap their credit or debit cards to start a transaction. With the terminal, they can enter their security keys, select their account types and even offer tips through a number pad interface. Payment terminals are either set up separately or are integrated with a point of sale system. An integrated payment terminal will automatically receive totals entered from the point of sale screen, while an unintegrated terminal may require entering totals manually.

A Point of Sale Solution for Grocery Stores may require

Although most businesses only require the Basic 5 POS hardware components, there are a few that may require some additional components. For example:

6. Weighing Scale

A weight scale functions to weigh the products to determine the correct price of the items to charge. These scales can be integrated with the POS software to automatically calculate the cost of the product according to the weight. Otherwise, they are separate from the point of sale system and their only function is to weigh the products in question.

7 (a) Kitchen Display System (KDS)

May be used as a digital tool to receive orders that were rung in from the POS display at the front-of-house. Depending on the programming, a Kitchen Display System can control the way recipes are prepared, prioritize orders based on its wait times, predict cook times, and even monitor the progress of multiple orders or their specific components. 

7 (b) Thermal Kitchen Printer

Can be a cheaper alternative to Kitchen Display Systems. Its main function is to help print out paper chits of the orders rung-in at the front-of-house. However, a thermal kitchen printer has only a single-purpose, and does not accommodate features (e.g. cook times, wait times, etc.) that are offered by the KDS. It is usually sufficient for restaurants with small scale kitchen operations.A Point of Sale Solution for Restaurant may requireA Point of Sale Solution for Restaurant may require

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