The point-of-sale (POS) is, quite simply, the location where a transaction is made, or what most of us refer to as the checkout. The term most commonly refers to the various types of hardware and software that are used in the transaction process, such as the cash register and receipt printer. While most points-of-sale tend to be handled by cashiers, the use of automated POS terminals is becoming increasingly common. The retail industry is growing rapidly, and there are a number of businesses that specialize in supplying retailers with POS software and hardware as a result.
You may be familiar with the POS terminals used for checkouts in convenience stores. Usually, they consist of a computer, barcode scanner and receipt printer, along with a cash drawer and an interface for customers to make their transaction. Most retail POS devices nowadays also come with debit and credit card readers, so as not to limit customers to cash-only payments. In places where price is determined based on the weight of the product (such as some grocery stores), POS terminals may also include a built-in weight scale.
As time goes on and technology advances, the hardware and software become more sophisticated. There are an ever-growing number of retail POS systems that utilize touch screens for added convenience, allowing customers to move through the transaction process entirely by navigating the display on the terminal’s monitor. For many transactions, a signing feature is also included; these machines include a stylus that allows you to write your name onto the screen when making transactions that require authorization.
Some might feel that POS units are unnecessary when it’s just as easy to have a cashier oversee the transaction process. However, these machines offer a myriad of benefits that one cashier simply wouldn’t be able to handle alone. Since the terminals are rapidly becoming more advanced, systems now exist that can serve multiple purposes in the retail industry. Retail POS software greatly broadens the scope of what they can do, with many modern terminals now having the ability to handle returns, layaways, discounts and buy-one-get-one offers, as well as processing gift cards and foreign forms of currency, validating coupons and accepting multiple payment types.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that the retail POS software and technology we have today began with simple electronic cash registers years ago. We can now make transactions in ways we never could before, and the retail industry is thriving as a result of these advances.