Buyer Guide to POS Systems

What is a POS System?
“POS” is an acronym for “point-of-sale.”  Even if your business doesn’t use a POS system, chances are you’ve seen one being used.  Most retail stores, restaurants, stadiums, theme parks, casinos and hotels use POS systems to “scan” items for purchase or place orders and calculate bills. 

Retail point of sale systems have roots dating back to the 1870s when the cash register was invented.  In the 1970s, computer-driven cash registers were introduced allowing client-server technology, peer-to-peer communications, backups and remote access. Only recently have these systems advanced and now are integrated in most all hospitality industries.  POS systems today are quicker, more secure and more reliable than ever before.  POS systems process transactions immediately as they occur and can be linked can be linked with your merchant services account.  These systems allow for the fastest processing possible, better customer service, and increased accuracy in record keeping. 

Most POS systems are industry specific.  A good example is a touch-screen terminal at a restaurant with a key for each menu item.  A waiter can specify a certain table and input the order of each diner.  The system then displays the orders, either on a screen or by printing them, for the person preparing the food, and generates an itemized bill that can be sent to a credit card terminal for processing.  The entire process, from taking the order to presenting the bill, is streamlined and efficient.

A POS system has several different components that can be customized for your business.  Software is the mechanism by which your sales are input and computed.  Specific POS software is available for businesses ranging from Pilates studios to garden supply stores.   Software can be programmed for a variety of functions, such as to input orders or accept credit cards.  Hardware is the POS equipment used to input the sale, for example, a touch screen or a scanner. 

Purchasing a POS system is an important decision that can have a big impact on your business.  Making a well-informed decision is crucial.  This guide reviews common terminology related to POS systems describes the benefits of a POS system and the different types available, and offers helpful tips for choosing a POS system vendor. 

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