POS systems can be purchased bundled, with or without software or its various components can be purchased individually. The following is a guide to understanding point of sale components.
The main component of a POS system is the Central Processing Unit, or computer, that runs a standard or propriatary operating system and a POS software. Such software is usually used for sales transactions, reports and inventory control. POS Computer System provides high reliability perfect for the retail and hospitality industries.
A Cash Drawer should be sturdy in order to withstand the constant opening and closing. It stores coins and paper bills used as money, checks, credit card receipts and other paperwork. Generally, this piece of hardware receives a signal from the computer through the attached receipt printer and opens to speed up checkouts or when necessary. If purchasing the components of the POS system separately, be sure the cash drawer is compatible with the rest of the system.
The receipt printer helps print a record of a transaction for the customer, and if necessary a copy for the store. Larger organizations prefer thermal receipt because they are faster and quieter. Serial dot-matrix printers are cheaper to purchase and use pins and ink ribbons. Some receipt printers include a check reader which uses magnetic ink character recognition technology to interpret the numbers and symbols that appear at the bottom of checks. This type of printer can read, print and then endorse a check in a single pass.
LCD POS Monitor
Every POS station requires some kind of POS Monitor and not every business needs a touchscreen. Most retail based POS systems scan or key items in and will use a standard monitor LCD due to the cost savings.
Touch screen POS display allows users to interact with the computer, or touch screens, easier and faster than using traditional keyboards and LCD monitors. Not only does the touch functionality replace the keyboard and mouse, it also saves counter space.
The keyboard will serve as a primary interface to the POS system with standard monitor without a touch screen. Keyboards for a point of sale system can vary in complexity and technology. They range in choices from a standard 101-key model like you may have on your home PC to industry-specific POS keyboards.
Magnetic Card Reader
A Magnetic stripe reader (MSR) is used to capture credit or debit card information at checkout. A MSR will only process cards with a magnetic strip and it is generally can attached to a POS computer or terminal to enable a customer to swipe a credit card at the time of payment.
Keyboard with Magnetic Card Reader
Most Keyboards with Magnetic Card Reader are fully programmable and provide uncompromised alphanumeric data entry. Grocery stores and restaurants may need special functions that only programmable keyboards can provide. When selecting a keyboard, consider the size, programmable key requirements, and magnetic stripe reader functionality.
Signature Capture Device
A signature capture device added to the point of sale system helps capture the customer’s signature when needed. Besides credit and debit cards, signature capture devices can work with gift cards and other loyalty programs. These devices help streamline transactions and reduce the costs associated with deposit paperwork.
A Personal Identification Number (PIN) pad or PIN entry device is an electronic device used in a debit, credit or smart card-based transaction to accept and encrypt the cardholder's personal identification number (PIN). PIN pads are equipped with hardware and software security features to ensure that the encryption keys and the PIN are erased if someone tries to tamper with the device.
A barcode scanner helps retrieve coded product unique identifier information using a laser beam for various items. Such a component is often flat glass at the base of the counter near the cash register, with a laser beam beneath the glass to capture the bar code. Most barcode scanners found in small businesses are handheld, enabling to scan items that are too large or heavy to be lifted to a counter. Barcode scanners also serve as a handy tool to add inventory to the POS softwares database.
One optional part of a point of sale system is the customer monitor display or pole display. A lighted display for the customer to view transaction totals, amount tendered and some customer displays feature customized messages or can show advertising.
In a network configuration where multiple units are in use throughout the establishment, the POS server is essentially the main computer where pertinent POS information and applicable software are stored and downloaded.