If you’re wondering what a POS System (Point of Sale) is or interested in learning a little bit about them, stick around and read on. Although not a super exciting subject, this article will give you a high-level overview of POS systems.
As you may (or may not) have known, a POS system is used to process credit cards predominantly in retail brick-and-mortar locations. This means that in most cases, POS systems are used for customer-facing sales. The system makes these sales, especially relating to debit and credit card transactions, seamless.
Of course, a power source and Internet connectivity are critical for operability, but the key ingredient of the system is a merchant account that allows debit & credit card processing through the system.
Why Use a POS System?
A POS system is far more robust than just a basic credit card terminal, as it is a fully computerized cash register, running special POS software. These days, a POS cash register consists of a computer, monitor, printer, cash drawer, barcode scanner, and credit card reader. Advanced POS systems are comprised of additional hardware pieces. Common add-ons can include a customer display, a pin pad with a signature capture device and even things you see in your local grocery store like a weight scale..
Modern POS systems are highly functional and incorporate the latest technology, including Windows operating systems and are programmed for the specific merchant. The functionality can handle a multitude of customer-serving actions such as returns and exchanges, customer loyalty programs and gift cards.
If there is anything sexy about point of sale systems, it’s the back-office functionality that they offer. An advanced point of sale system can help a merchant to manage payroll, inventory, purchase and receive goods from other locations, track sales trends and market to customers. Did you ever receive a coupon upon checkout from a store for a product that you regularly purchase? Yeah, that was the POS system’s doing.
Different features may be available on POS systems implemented in different types of stores. Some systems are designed specially for client’s needs, where large retailers have even been known to write their own specs for the systems. Most point of sale systems are more or less standard equipment, but have elements that are customizable from one merchant to another.
The hospitality industry, particularly restaurants, relies on these systems to quickly and efficiently ring up the sale and send the orders to the kitchen to be prepared. Many restaurants use touch screens with pre-programmed items to speed the process of entering the items for the employee.
Today, POS systems are even incorporating the use of tablets with wireless connectivity for even greater flexibility.
What Does a POS System Cost?
So how much does a POS system cost? Well, that obviously depends on the requirements of the merchant.
Some systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars. This would be the case for a large retail store with many checkout lanes and a lot of hardware.
A basic POS set up can range between $500 and $1500. The functionality packed into a system for that price is well worth the investment. Among tackling employee payroll tasks and other bells and whistles, the inventory management control alone can save a merchant thousands of dollars each year in spoiled or unsold inventory.
Merchants that process a steady stream of transactions on a daily basis that are not currently using a point of sale system should look into it. The use of a basic system can pay off quickly.
The key is to start small. Just get what you need at first and add to the system as required. For tight budgets, it’s possible to even get started by installing POS software on an existing PC and add pieces of hardware like a scanner, receipt printer and cash drawer.
But remember, you’ll need credit card processing services to make the whole system work. If you need more information about POS systems, or merchant account services, give us a call. We’d be happy to put you in touch with one of our partners that are knowledgeable with point of sale systems.