POS hardware is the physical equipment used to process a transaction at the point of sale. You can think of it as the “point” where the customer and business commit to doing business together. It is a combination of hardware and software that does much more than merely performing a transaction. It impacts the day-to-day workings of the business, such as accounting, inventory control, and employee scheduling.
Modern POS systems incorporate both POS hardware and software. From the customer side, the hardware consists of a smartphone or tablet while the software is an app on that mobile device. So instead of a credit card, a customer can pay with a store app or electronic wallet. From the business side, there are such items as a monitor or touch screen, credit card reader, scanner, printer, and yes, a cash drawer (some things never change). The software used by a business can be what is known as “on-premises”. That means it resides on a computer at the business location. It has to be maintained by the owner and hopefully backed up on a regular basis. Today, there is another choice – software on the cloud. The software is maintained by a vendor and the business data is stored in the cloud so no worries about fire, bad weather, or theft.
Monitor/input device or touchscreen Regular monitors are used with computers to enter data such as clocking in or out by employees and accounting data. Monitors can also display work schedules, inventory levels, and sales reports. Touchscreens can be free-standing units or a tablet or iPad to enter purchased items. Tablets or iPads have little or no footprint on a retail counter unlike bulky monitors or cash registers that take up valuable counter space and inhibit employee-customer interaction.
A reader reads a credit card whether it is swiped or inserted as a chip (EMV) card. EMV cards are more prevalent outside of the United States but they are catching up in popularity. This is due in part to businesses being more liable for not having chip card readers. Some credit card readers allow a customer to tap the unit with the card or wave it at the unit to pay, which is called a contactless transaction.
A scanner streamlines the checkout process by reading barcodes on the product being purchased. A scanner uses a laser to bounce light off of the barcode in order to read it. Scanners can be handheld to enable the employee to check out large or bulky items, or it can be a stationary scanner where the items to be purchased are passed over the laser to be checked out. These are more efficient in a high-volume environment.
The printer prints out a receipt to be signed by the customer. It provides a printed record of the transaction so the customer can use it to expense items or meals or enable them to return an item that is not satisfactory. Printers have a small footprint so that valuable counter space can be freed up.
A cash drawer is a holdover from the early days and holds the cash proceeds for a time period, usually a shift or a day. It allows a customer to pay with cash and receive exact change in response.
POS Hardware enables a faster checkout time which will appeal to customers. Transactions are transmitted by a secure system. In addition, using a scanner will help ensure accurate transactions.
By utilizing POS hardware as goods are sold, the inventory is adjusted accordingly. Notifications can be set to let the business owner know when inventory for an item is getting low and needs to be re-ordered. The business owner can also be notified if inventory is not selling as anticipated which may result in markdowns. POS hardware can keep track of inventory even if a business has more than one location. It eliminates the need to physically be at a location in order to check inventory. It also helps to reduce the amount of loss due to employee theft. One of the biggest benefits of a Point of Sale system is that employees and management can focus more on the customer service aspect of the business and less on counting receipts and inventory.
With accounting software, POS hardware can accurately track transactions into the proper accounting categories as well as produce required monthly or quarterly reports for tax purposes. Financial reporting is essential to a business and can be used to create balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. Coupled with sales data a business can adjust prices during a “slower” day of the week or schedule a recurring sale for the same period. The accounting data can then be analyzed to see how well the pricing strategy worked. And if a business already has accounting software there is no need to purchase an add-on accounting module or to have to retrain employees on new, unfamiliar software.
Point of sale hardware has reporting features that allow a business to keep a close eye on sales, profits, and expenses like Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). Point of Sale system reports give the business data in real-time. With cloud Point of Sale system reporting, owners can access reports even when they are at home or traveling. No matter where owners are, they’ll always have the information they need to make data-driven business decisions. Point of Sales systems also enables management to gather customer purchase data in order to develop forecast models and create detailed reports.
POS hardware gives a customer much more with detailed receipts than just a slip of paper with the date and the amount of the sale. The system can use inventory data to provide information such as item description, price, and savings from a sale or coupon. With the right system, a business can add coupons directly on the receipt, highlight a loyalty rewards program, acknowledge the return policy, and print a link to a survey about the customer’s experience.
POS hardware provides a unique way to promote continued interaction with customers. It can increase customer satisfaction by providing personalized service tailored to the customer. A POS system can provide sales history, and enable a business to set up preferred shopping lists, discounts, and customer rewards.
There are a lot of intricacies when it comes to POS Hardware but ID TECH has you covered. ID TECH has a range of options to choose from that are equipped with all the latest payment technology including EMV card dipping, tap and go, or cash. Reach out if you’re still questioning whether or not your business would benefit from pay and go kiosks. Our dedicated and experienced team can help you make the decision that is best for your business.