What Is a Point of Sale?

Thursday, 21 Oct 2010 03:03 PM

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The 1990's saw an explosion in the growth of Point of Sale (POS) terminals, which revolutionized the way retail and restaurant industries conducted business by integrating all pieces of relevant information in a seamless way.

Here are some important details about the components of a Point of Sale (POS):
 
  • The Point of Sale (POS) refers to the location where customers checkout or complete their transactions. These days, electronic POS or computerized cash registers have replaced manual registers, which apart from handling checkouts, help manage inventory.
  • With the growth of the Internet and wireless technology, the Point of Sale is increasingly becoming a virtual location, like shopping portals. The hardware and software used at checkouts are collectively called a POS terminal. The POS terminal most importantly creates and prints a receipt for the customer while sending back an order to the office. Traditionally, POS terminals were attended and operated by the salesperson, but now, touch screens and all-in-one units are increasingly eliminating the need for a salesperson.
  •  The POS software system is a set of programs that integrates different functions of the business. Starting from the input of customer details, the POS software handles a variety of customer-based functions besides sales and returns. These may include exchanges, customer loyalty programs, gift registries, quantity discounts, BOGO (buy one get one), gift cards, etc. The POS software usually plays a key role in managing promotions and coupons (validation, expiration) besides issues such as other currency and multiple-payment-type of transactions.
  •  Independent retailers use retail POS software for managing the functions of sales, inventory, purchasing, and accounting by automating routine processes to improve the performance. Most retail POS are customized to suit the needs of retailers and are designed to perform analytical functions such as break-even analysis, cash flow analysis, inventory analysis, tax support, and trouble shooting for customer service.
  • The POS hardware includes computers, monitors, customer displays, bar code readers, credit card readers, and receipt printers. Retail POS hardware typically also includes weighing scales, devices to capture customers’ signatures, or pads for the customers to punch their PIN (Personal Identification Number) into. POS hardware has evolved with the increasing affordability of bar code technology, local processing power, and networking, making it possible for a highly functional electronic POS. These days, wireless technology is adding a real-time dimension to electronic POS, especially for businesses in the restaurant and hotel industries.

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