How to Choose a POS System

To collect payments at checkout, you need to have a good POS (Point of Sale) system in place. The following information will define and explain POS systems so you can make a more informed decision.

What Is a POS System?

At one time, you would have defined a POS system as a mere cash register. However, today’s technology makes a POS system an array of hardware items and software-based applications. Therefore, a POS system no longer soley represents a standalone machine. Instead, POS systems help you process customer-facing transactions effectively, thereby streamlining the sales process.

What Do You Want to Do?

The POS system you choose may vary in functionality and appearance, depending on the following:

  • The payment methods accepted
  • Whether or not your print paper receipts
  • How you record sales
  • How you organize your end-of-day bookkeeping
  • The inventory system you have installed for your products

How It All Began

About 30 years ago, a point-of-sale (POS) system was a basic cash register – a machine that only accepted the information input by the cashier. Therefore, the person operating the cash register would manually enter each price by referring to a price tag. The operator would then take the customer’s money, place it in the cash drawer, and provide the customer with a paper receipt. In most cases, the only copy the store had of the transaction was recorded on the till roll.

As POS systems evolved, a barcode reader was used, thereby avoiding the need to manually enter a product’s price. The reader also made it possible to store each transaction electronically. Fortunately, today, POS systems are more sophisticated and user-friendly.

A contemporary POS system is made up of sophisticated hardware and software components. The software of a POS system registers, processes, and stores the details of a transaction. POS software applications differ in how the data is stored and used. All POS systems today feature a frontend interface and a back office capability that provides behind-the-scenes analytics and managerial support.

Processing POS Transactions Today

The employees that process the POS transactions use the frontend interface by operating a tablet screen or touchscreen monitor. The backend is accessed in an app window or browser, either on the POS device or on a separate piece of equipment.

Cloud-based and Onsite POS Software

You can use POS software that is installed on-site or on the cloud.

On-site Software

If you use software on-site, you will need to do the following:

  • Install the software locally on your own server
  • Buy one or two software licenses
  • Maintain and manually update the installed software

On-site software does not require the use of the web. It is part of a closed computerized network.

A Cloud-based Application

If your POS system has cloud-based software, the system will offer the following features:

  • A cloud-based POS software is hosted online and stored on the POS provider’s servers. This enables the user to access the application from a computer browser.
  • The software is also known as software-as-a-service or SaaS, which means that it is maintained and updated by the POS provider.

Always make sure you use the latest application if you are using a cloud-based POS software.

General POS Hardware Components

While each business—small pub, retailer, restaurant chain—will have different software and hardware needs, POS systems all feature most of the following hardware components:

  • An interface to record the register transactions, such as buttons, touchscreen monitor, or a mobile device using a POS software app.
  • Barcode scanner – Usually used by retailers and linked to a POS system’s inventory or stock levels. This allows the store to update its product counts when items are sold or returned.
  • Cash drawer – Used to store the daily takings in the form of cash, checks, vouchers, receipts, and related accounting slips.
  • Receipt printer – Used to print customer receipts and end-of-day reports.
  • Credit/debit card machine – Used for credit and debit card processing or for accepting payments form mobile wallets via Near-field Communication (NFC) transmittal. A traditional card machine will require the installation of software and a landline cable or SIM card. On the other hand, an app-based cards reader requires the use of Wi-Fi or network-based data from a linked mobile device.
  • Network equipment. Whether you are using an on-premise software application or cloud-based system, you will need to include a network setup to get connected to the Internet. This may involve the use of a mode, or router.

As you can see, obtaining a POS system today is not cut-and-dried. You need to install a system that will meet with your budgetary needs and operational requirements.

We encourage all small businesses that are looking to invest in an iPad POS system to evaluate all solutions that are on the market before making a decision. Here is The Best iPad POS Systems for Small Businesses!

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Choose a POS System

How do you accept cash payments on an electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) system?

Typically, you will use a touchscreen monitor to accept cash payments. This screen features a visual interface so you can enter the products that you have sold and the amount of payment. In turn, the POS software figures how much change you should give back to the customer. When this happens, you will put the received cash payment in the drawer and gather the coins and notes due to the customer to complete the transaction.

How do you accept a debit or credit card payment?

You can accept s debit/credit card payment in 1 of 2 ways – by manual entry, through a standalone machine, or automatically, through a linked system. Both of these systems require the use of some type of card reader, a standalone terminal for manual entries, or an integrated terminal for receiving automatic payments. Each terminal must be connected to the Internet via a phone line through a SiM card, WI-Fi, or cable.

What are the benefits associated with using a touchscreen PC monitor?

Typically, a touchscreen PC monitor is difficult to steal and it is sturdier for POS use. Screens are designed to prevent damages from splashing liquids or frequent janitorial cleanings.

What is the main advantage of using an Android or iPad to accept POS transactions?

By using a device, such as a Samsung or iPad, you can easily use the tablet for cloud-based POS purchases and returns and for other business uses.

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Amanda Leach

Fifteen years can be a long time to work in one industry, but not when you are doing something that you love. Amanda has enjoyed the freedom of working as a freelance writer for the majority of her career. She has successfully combined her passion and skill for writing while still enjoying a life filled with travel, learning and exciting new experiences. While she loves exploring all different types of writing, her PhD in Consumer Psychology has made her a sought after writer for marketing, business and technology fields. Amanda is a regular contributor to Smarter Loans.