A cash register is a device used by merchants to calculate and process customer transactions.
Modern automated cash registers typically package several core modules in one terminal, including:
- Secure cash drawers
- Barcode scanners
- Receipt printers
- Customer display screens
- Electronic touch screen monitors
Modern registers also allow users to integrate a variety of extra modules, such as payment card terminals and electronic scales.
When used correctly, touch screen cash registers can help retailers of all sizes to increase sales. Their employee and inventory management functions are essential for grocery stores and gas stations. Several features for restaurants also make them a smart purchase in the world of catering and hospitality.
Depending on the make and model of your touch screen cash register, the steps for operating it may differ from those covered below. We advise users to also consult their operating guide (if provided).
Step 1 - Setup and Configuration
The first step in setting up any electronic touch screen cash register is to ensure the device is connected to a power outlet and switched on.
Next, you must configure the register to accurately process transactions. This can involve you manually inputting the time and date, and establishing language settings.
You should also ensure there is a supply of paper in the receipt printer. Many registers also require a unique clerk code to be entered. This allows you to attribute a specific employee to each transaction made using that register.
This allows employers to identify which member of staff was responsible for specific transactions, regardless of how many use the same register.
Step 2 - Product Input
In order to calculate and process transactions, you will need to enter relevant product information, such as price and weight, into the register.
Most older cash registers allow you to add product details using a built-in physical keypad. The digital touch screens on most modern systems include item hotkeys to further speed up this process.
There are two distinct methods for entering product information:
- The first, most common method is to simply swipe the product's barcode across the integrated barcode scanner. The relevant product information is then automatically added.
- The second method is to manually enter the information via the touch screen. For fresh fruit and vegetables, you enter the weight (as calculated by an electronic weighing scale) and the system works out the price accordingly. This is the standard method of entry for products without a barcode.
In situations where products do not feature a barcode, such as those items charged by weight, users must enter this information manually.
Step 3 - Calculation and Total
After inputting the relevant information for each product via the touch screen, you need to total up the cost. Select a 'sub-total' option on the touch screen, and the register will calculate the final cost of the transaction.
You'll see the cost appear on the monitor. Most modern registers also show the customer the total on a small rear-facing LCD display screen.
Step 4 - Sale
At this point, the cash register touch screen will present different payment options. The next part will differ depending on the payment method the customer wishes to use.
Method 1: Cash
If the customer is paying by cash, select the 'cash' option, manually enter the amount, and then select 'sale'.
The secure cash draw will open automatically, and the amount of any change due will appear on the monitor. At the same time, the system will print a paper receipt for the customer.
Method 2: Magnetic Stripe Card
Magnetic stripe cards have a black magnetic stripe on the back containing the card holder's account information. You need to swipe the stripe through the slot on your card reader, and provide either a receipt for the customer to sign or a modern digital signature capture device. Finally, you need to press 'sale' to complete the transaction.
Method 3: EMV Card (Chip and Pin Card)
This card type needs to be inserted into the card reader, gold chip first. When prompted, the customer should enter their PIN number on the keypad. A message will appear on your touch screen after a few seconds to confirm a successful payment.
Method 4: Mobile Payment
If your card reader is NFC-enabled, you may be able to take payment via digital wallet services such as Apple Pay. With this method, the customer scans their mobile phone past the card reader to make contactless payment.
How Does a Cash Register Work?
A cash register is a device that lets a salesperson accept cash, calculate change and print receipts for customers wishing to make a purchase.
The main feature of a cash register is the drawer. This is where money is kept. This drawer opens by pressing a special key, which helps protect against theft, be it by staff or other opportunists.
What Happens During a Transaction?
Electronic cash registers require the operator to scan the barcode of the item(s) the customer wishes to purchase with a barcode scanner.
The register then displays the current prices of these items, all of which are stored in a database linked to the register. If needed, prices can also be keyed in manually.
The cash register displays the total amount payable and the operator then types in the customer's preferred method of payment, for example, cash or card.
If the customer wishes to pay by card, the card is then swiped in a separate terminal and the transaction is processed electronically.
If the customer pays by cash, the operator types in the amount they have received and the register calculates how much change is required, automatically opening the cash drawer to allow the operator access.
A receipt is then printed and given to the customer which includes details of the items bought, along with quantity and price and store specific information such as the name of the company and the person and who served them.
There are three different types of receipt printer: the old drum style printer, the dot matrix printer and the thermal printer:
The old drum style printer works by using raised numbers and symbols on a roll which spin to the required character. The paper is then pressed against the inked drum.
The dot matrix printer uses 6 to 12 little wires which are pressed against an ink ribbon in different combinations to create characters using dots. This type of printer requires a ribbon cartridge.
Thermal printers use heat to apply ink to paper. An electric heat source in the printer head heats up the desired characters which then heat the ink ribbon.
The paper is then rolled against the ribbon and the ink is transferred to the paper. The ink dries very quickly making this a very fast way of printing receipts.
Thermal printers also eliminate the need for ink cartridges, and so lower the running costs of a cash register.
Carbonless paper is commonly used for invoices and receipts where duplication and high speed accurate printing is required.
Registers that use this paper include the Casio PCR-T470, TE-2400 and PCR-T48S models, and Sharp's XEA-207, XE- A23S and ER-A347. All thermal printers use carbonless paper.
Electronic vs Mechanical Cash Registers
Electronic cash registers automatically adjust stock inventories so managers can easily check how many particular items in a range have been sold and when they must buy more in.
They also keep track of all transactions made over a particular period of time. This list of transactions is generally printed out at the close of business each day and the total amount of cash in the drawer is checked to ensure the figures tally.
As mechanical cash registers do not possess these capabilities, requiring prices to be typed in manually and stock inventories adjusted by hand, in many ways they are far less efficient.
Indeed, without modern day cash registers, superstores would not be able to function in the way that they do. Transactions would take longer, customer service would be slower and keeping track of a store's vast quantities of stock would be extremely hard indeed.
All in all, the modern cash register enables a business to function smoothly and effortlessly, which in turn allows us all to have a pleasant and efficient shopping experience.
If your staff know how to use one, a touch screen cash register is among the most time and energy-saving additions your business can make to its point of sale setup. Some suppliers, like Epos Now, even offer customers free installation, configuration and training. If you are considering purchasing a cash register or upgrading your existing POS system, it pays to shop around for the best support package.