Cash registers are widespread in today's world of retail, and can be found in almost all stores. While there are many different brands and models, cash registers generally fall into one of three categories.
Those categories are as follows:
Standard Cash Register
These registers are smaller units that can often be found in small businesses, where space is more of a concern. They can also be found in many restaurants and cafes. They are essentially made up of a cash drawer in the base, topped with a input keypad and a printing device.
The purchase is typed into the keypad (or sometimes scanned using a laser handset on more modern devices) which will toll up a total cost of the transaction.
The drawer is opened, and the cashier stores the customer's money inside. A receipt is then printed, which lists the items purchased and their prices, and will often include a total cost, time of purchase and user details such as a till number and/or an employee number.
Point of Sale
These registers, also known as checkouts, are found in many larger retail outlets, such as department stores and supermarkets.
They do not require the items to be manually imputed, instead utilizing laser scanning technology to read barcodes on items, gathering data on cost from a central database that covers all of the store's goods.
These registers are often designed with high capacity in mind, so are often quicker and more efficient than standard cash registers, often being installed with a conveyor belt that allows for large numbers of items to be handled and scanned in a short space of time.
Points of sale systems can also be equipped with superior software that allows companies to collect and store data such the busiest trading times, and what items are selling fastest.
This can be linked to ordering software, which automatically requests new products from a supplier when existing stocks are close to being depleted. It also allows supermarkets to focus their advertising in different areas by ascertaining sales trends.
A newer design that is becoming more commonplace in the retail world is that of the self service checkout. This works in a similar way to the traditional point of sale, but does not require a staff member.
The customer scans and packs their own items, often placing them in a packing area which doubles as a scale to ensure that all items packed have been scanned.
They are then presented with a total cost, and are prompted to pay by cash or card. While card payment is dealt with automatically in a similar way to standard checkouts, cash is inserted into the register, and is then filtered through size and weight sensors, which determine how much as been inserted. A receipt it printed, and if necessary, change is calculated and returned to the customer through a chute system.
The reason for the growing popularity of these registers is that, financially, they are more efficient. They are smaller, so multiple units can exist in the same space that perhaps only one traditional checkout could, and will also only require a single overseer for multiple machines, rather than an assistant for every one.
This reduces waiting times for customers, and lowers business costs, but is sometimes shunned by certain groups as being too impersonal compared to traditional points of sale.
What Kind of Cash Register do I Need?
Choosing the right cash register depends largely on the business sector it is to be utilized in, the specific features and capabilities required, as well as an individual's budget.
Things to consider include:
- Physical system requirements – what do you need you cash register to be able to do.
- Advanced capabilities – will you need a complete POS system or just a cash register.
- Budget – decide how much you are willing to spend early on, as cash register and POS system prices can vary dramatically.