The term “point of sale” refers to the occurrence of a purchase taking place at a shop, restaurant or any other business equipped with a cash register. This is sometimes also known as the checkout stage. Traditionally, retailers use a physical cash register that may come loaded with special point of sale (POS) software to enable tracking of purchases. Today, the cash register itself is increasingly being superseded by PCs, tablets and mobile devices capable of doing the same job.
From purely mechanical cash registers of years gone by, modern POS software is capable of keeping detailed and accurate finance and inventory records, as well as the daily grind checking out customers. It can also print out receipts, process credit and debit cards and other tasks we take for granted. Point of sale software eases the flow at checkout terminals, while recording all the information that can help you make better business decisions.
Thanks to falling costs of hardware and equipment, the abundance of mobile devices like iPads, and new web and cloud-based POS offerings, retailers have more choice than ever before. It’s good news especially for small business owners, as the costs of setting up and running one of the new breed of POS systems could be dramatically reduced. One estimate states that the set-up costs for an iPad based POS system could run $10,000 less than a traditional system.
With web-based POS software such as Square even removes the need for heavyweight software packages, offering ease of use and 100% plug and play accessibility, being compatible with just about any computer system. All of this is becoming increasingly possible in the fragmented and specialised world of the modern point of sale system. The downside is that it does rely on a working internet connection, so a back-up system will be necessary.
Retailers might want to consider software designed specifically for the unique needs of their business. For example, restaurant and food service establishments often require restaurant-focused software to better process orders, print tickets and even keep track of kitchen stock levels. Restaurants have been some of the earliest adopters of modern POS software, with many now relying primarily on tablets to do the job. It may not be long before other sectors follow their lead.