A point of sale (POS) system refers to a variety of physical hardware systems, and their supporting software, situated in the location where retail transactions are completed.
Owing to the advanced functions and capabilities of many of these systems, POS can also refer to point of service.
An electronic point of sale system can also be known as a sales register, cash register, or simply a till. These terms are essentially interchangeable.
A common feature of any modern POS system is a computerized monitor, sometimes with touchscreen capabilities.
These monitors provide the user with a clear overview of the transaction, displaying all processed products and maintaining a running transaction total. They also enable the user to process products by manually inputting product information.
A more efficient method of processing products, however, is to utilize a barcode scanner. By simply scanning the barcode, all relevant product information can be automatically added to the running transaction total, eliminating the need for manual data input.
Payment card terminals can also be included within a POS system, as they allow customers the freedom to pay through credit, debit and gift cards.
To this end, electronic signature pads may also be incorporated, allowing a digital signature of the cardholder to be captured, removing the need for the physical signing of a receipt.
These card terminals may feature an integrated receipt printer, to provide both customer and merchant with a record of transaction, or else a separate standalone printer can be utilized.
Recent technological advances have also led to the introduction of payment card terminals with contactless payment capabilities.
Contactless payment allows customers to simply swipe their payment card or smart phone across the terminal, removing the need for the input of PIN numbers.
Whilst the aforementioned systems can be utilized as individual devices, all-in-one POS terminals which integrate all of these devices may be a preferred option.
Moreover, depending upon the exact nature of merchant's' business, additional peripheral POS systems may be integrated, including electronic scales and conveyor belts.
Any automated POS system requires not only the physical devices themselves, but the supporting software to provide the system with overall functionality.
This role extends beyond providing the systems with the ability to process sales, and includes advanced capabilities such as stock management, employee tracking, and business reports.
Advantages to Business
One of the benefits that modern POS systems offer merchants is a greater level of control over their stock.
When new stock is delivered to a business, it can be scanned and automatically added to an online inventory, providing merchants with a clear overview of their stock situation.
This therefore enables merchants to quickly identify when more stock is required, or when to reduce stock purchases for a particular product range.
POS systems also reduce the risk of human error during transactions. Employees may inadvertently undercharge customers, resulting in a loss in profit for the merchant, or overcharge, reducing the likelihood of repeat custom
Modern POS systems, however, are much more accurate, meaning large transactions with multiple purchases are processed as precisely as small, single item transactions.
The ability to monitor aspects of employee behavior can also be advantageous to merchants. Specific employees can be linked to specific transactions, allowing, for example, employees with particularly strong sales records to be highlighted for praise, encouraging a productive competitive spirit in a business.
Conversely, merchants can identify those employees falling short of required sales figures, and then take appropriate action. Employee theft can also be an area of concern in some businesses, therefore the ability to monitor all transactions made by each employee (including unauthorized or unusual sales activities) can act as a deterrent.
One of the most noticeable benefits of POS systems can be their effect on customer service and satisfaction.
POS systems increase the speed and efficiency with which transactions are processed, meaning the customer spends less time waiting in line and an improved experience is had overall. Consequently, customers are more likely to utilize that business's services again in the future.