Kerr-ching! Remember that sound? Some of us do anyhow. It was the war cry of the ubiquitous cash register, sadly lamented POS equipment of the past. High street stores of today are more likely to be filled with the sound of chart music, or are eerily quiet apart from some muted beeps and the whoosh of well lubricated, precision engineered cash drawers.
Ironically, while modern POS systems are based on digital software, the amount of equipment required to run them has increased. If you’re planning a retail start-up, this guide will help you identify and understand some of the POS equipment components you might need to obtain. Unfortunately, none of them go kerr-ching!
Touch Screen Monitor
Although your POS system will run on a computer or server, you and your staff still need a monitor to see what you’re doing in the system. Touch screens have become increasingly popular for retail use because they are programmable and intuitive. This makes life easier for users and reduces staff training. If you prefer though, a conventional flat panel monitor can be used along with a keyboard for data entry and commands.
The latest POS systems, based on Hosted online platforms, are designed to be accessed via an iPad or tablet. If you decide to go with one of these systems, your tablet will serve as the monitor and input device.
You can use a traditional computer keyboard as Point of Sale equipment, but you may prefer to utilize a purpose-designed one. Keyboards designed as POS equipment have programmable keys and often incorporate a magnetic card reader for processing credit and debit card payments.
Bar Code Scanners
Barcode scanners have become an essential item of POS equipment, because they make it hard for input errors to occur and they facilitate fast sales transactions. The scanner reads a bar code on an inventory item and interprets the information contained in the code. Information includes the item description, a SKU or inventory number, and the item price. The scanner sends the information directly to the POS system so there is no need for manual data entry.
Another piece of equipment that you can’t do without is a printer. Customers require receipts and you need the equipment to print these quickly. Thermal printers are generally the best choice for retail outlets. They are fast, quiet and have few moving parts to go wrong.
A heavy duty cash drawer is used to store coins, bank notes, credit card slips, vouchers and other sales related paperwork.
Sometimes called Pole displays, a customer display shows items and pricing as they are entered into the POS system. It also shows the total cost of a sales transaction. This piece of POS equipment allows the customer to see what’s being entered and how much they have to pay. Pole displays are a relatively new POS requirement and have been introduced since monitors became popular for POS use. Because monitors only have a screen on one side, another display became necessary to give customers visibility of their purchase transaction.
In order to process credit and debit card transactions, a card reader is required. Credit cards are swiped through the reader, which captures information contained in the magnetic strip on the card. Most credit cards and debit cards now incorporate a microchip and make use of a PIN number. You will need a card terminal in order to handle chip and PIN cards. The terminal has a slot for insertion of the credit card. Once firmly in place, the terminal reads data contained within the card’s chip.
To Bundle or not to Bundle
Now that you have an idea of the kind of equipment available, you can browse online or visit suppliers and start to select your POS items. If time is of the essence, or you just don’t want to make a lot of individual purchases, many POS vendors will sell you a hardware bundle, containing all the important items you would need to set up a point of sale system. One of the benefits of buying a POS hardware bundle is that you know all the items of equipment are going to be compatible.
There you have it, seven items that you probably can’t do without if you’re opening a retail store. Wait! Make that eight items, because unless you want the eerily quiet type of outlet you’re going to need a hi-fi.