Technology is undeniably favoring everyone in every field. Although you might know a few things about POS systems, the full information can be a little bit hazy for some people so we decided to prepare a comprehensive article explaining every detail and niches about POS systems. This way, there is a reliable resource to find any probable question about the POS systems with no limits and buy the best systems possible to benefit your business impressively.
There are still a few retailers who believe traditional cash outs are better than implementing a technology based complex in the business. The point is that anytime technology, especially when it is a combination of hardware and software, enters a field, for sure everything in that field will progress massively. So, let’s stop telling more about POS systems as an introduction and dive into the point.
Table of content
- What does POS mean?
- What is a POS system?
- Different type of POS systems and their definitions
- Everything to know about POS hardware
- Transactions on POS system
- Features of a POS system that will come handy to retailers
- Last word: What POS system fits my business?
What does POS mean?
POS stands for three key words of Point Of Sale! Means exactly where you get the cash for the products and services offered to the customer. To be honest, it is the most important location of every business as Money makes a business be alive, so the transaction area where customer and cashier start exchanging is POS or point of sale.
Note that there are also some types of businesses that set more efficient transactions through a mobile POS, which means the whole store can be a Point of Sale. Where customers can pay anytime they wish to.
What is a POS system?
POS system nowadays also known as EPOS (electronic point of sale) system refers to the systems that can assist the cashier to have a better transaction process. By saying “better” we mean:
- More accurate
- Higher customer experience
But this is not the only thing a POS system does. As a manager in every kind of business, you will need to understand the whole process of selling, how customers behave in the store and what they buy more, what is the performance quality of the staff, what products are about to run out, etc.
It is worth mentioning that based on your needs and business goals, you can choose either of the POS systems or even add both of them in your retail shop. The question is, what are these POS system types. Read the coming section to learn what you need about this issue.
Different type of POS systems and their definitions
In the early days of offering POS systems to the market, there was a rule set by the installer: “Don’t move any of the hardware of the POS system from this desk.” The reason is somewhat clear and that’s because all the data were registered and saved in a specific place called server and storage. As soon as the system and the tools are moved, all the setups of the servers need to be redone.
In contrast, little by little technology developed and cloud storage became the greatest replacement for the former importable storage. That was the time when Mobile POS systems were introduced to businesses. Therefore, there are 2 main different types of POS systems:
- Static POS systems
- Mobile POS systems
Static POS systems
As it was mentioned, the static POS systems had a specific server which needed frequent setups if the system was moved. Therefore, the POS of the store was also static (movable only in case of redecoration).
This type of POS system is great for larger stores that need a clear area for point of sales. Although nowadays, even the static POS systems are mostly managed by a cloud server so it can be said that static POS systems are no longer popular.
Mobile POS systems
As soon as cloud servers started to service people around the world, there was an extra option on POS systems and that was connecting the POS system through any smart device, anywhere, anytime. No matter if you are at home using your mobile, at a store using a tablet or laptop or even using a smart screen to connect the POS, you will have full access to manage everything.
The point is by this option, managers could use a tablet or mobile to connect the POS system, walk around the store and have a double checking. One through the real time analyzes and reports from the POS system and the other through walking in the store and feeling the current needs of the shop. But this is not the only benefit brought by the mobile POS systems!
Lines will be vanished
One of the most annoying things in shopping is to wait for a long time in lines to get to the POS and pay off. This problem considers only those kinds of businesses that use a static POS system. When cashiers can walk around and use their mobile or tablets to check out a customer, there would be no lines to wait for.
It is a better idea to use a collection of both POS systems in the more crowded shops. You can set stable POS systems for those with a bushier purchase basket and use the mobile POS systems for the small shoppers having less than 10 items to buy.
Use the same system anywhere
There is always a chance of having a festival for every business. This festival may be held in somewhere rather than your current location (like the main park of the city). If you want to join the festival as well and sell products, it is a great idea to have a mobile POS system. This way, whatever you sell straightly connects the whole selling list of the store and management would be much more efficient.
By this benefit, you can centralize the management of selling the same products everywhere. It is also possible to move to the other branch of your store and use the same mobile POS system to help the staves.
Here is the list of other benefits of using a mobile POS system for retailers. Note that having a faster customer service is the first point!
- Use the mobile to pay so there would be no cash used, the payments are integrated
- Management would be much easier
- Full access to reports and analyzes
- Customer data is kept comprehensively on a cloud storage so anyone you choose can access it
- Just like the static POS system, scheduling the employees is an ease using the mobile POS system
- Enhance the customer experience
- Ability to set new branches as fast as possible
- Use any device to manage the store by accessing insights anywhere
Everything to know about POS hardware
There is one more step to have a complete POS system in your business and that’s choosing hardware. POS systems, especially the static ones or the ones using a screen or laptop (rather than smartphones and tablets) need a few hardware to be complete. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to pick all the peripheral hardware. All you need to know is to ask a guide what you need or you decide what the business needs based on personal experience, business goals, etc.
In this article we decided to introduce the mostly used hardware by different businesses (well they are truly a great support to any business), and you can decide what to choose. Note that not having all of them means having the best POS system!
- POS terminal
- Barcode scanner
- Credit card reader
- Cash drawer
- Receipt printer
The POS terminal is the main device that the POS software is installed on it. The POS terminal can be a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, or any other smart device that can be connected to the internet. Nowadays, most of the businesses use a powerful tablet standing on the POS location to service customers. This way, the operator can simply pick the POS terminal and walk around the store or stay at the POS terminal to service customers.
If you want to have a faster cash out, a barcode scanner can be a perfect choice. Barcode scanners are mostly used by those retailers having more inventories and products to offer and the customer is not likely to spend more than a few minutes for payments. By connecting the barcode scanner through the special cables (which is offered by the company) you can use it right away. Note that the barcodes and products need to be defined for the POS system and based on your needs, you can choose either of the available barcode scanners in the current market:
- One-dimension barcode scanners to scan the linear barcodes
- Two-dimensional barcode scanners to scan QR-codes or matrix based barcodes
There are also some other types of barcode scanners that are designed based on one of the mentioned categories but having different usages:
- LED pen scanners
- Laser barcode scanner
- CCD (charged coupled device) barcode scanner
- Image barcode scanner (2D camera based)
Credit card reader
Not all the customers are happy with cash or online payments. Therefore, credit cards become an important part of customer behavior. All you need to do is to implement a credit card reader at the POS. You can choose one of the credit card reader types below to start servicing your customers:
- NFC (near field communication) credit card readers which allows you to connect the credit card data by approaching the card to the reader.
- Chip reader credit card readers. This reader requires you to hold down the card to the arranged area and after a few seconds, the card would be available to access.
- Swiping credit card readers that require the operator to swipe the card on the edge of the reader.
There is one more to say about the credit card readers and that’s choosing the best credit card reader. If you consider three important factors while adding a credit card reader, surely you have picked a great one. The factors are: embedded receipt printer (or it can email the receipt to the customer), flexible on payments (no matter if it is £0.1 or £1000 to pay, the credit card reader should support this) and integrated payments (that make it easier to comprehensively manage the payments).
In contrast to those who like no cash payments, there are still a lot of people who prefer more traditional payment methods using cash. Although it is said that by next 10 years, there would be no customer choosing the cash payments, some businesses will definitely need a cash drawer as there is always exceptional!
Cash drawers are usually metal tills installed under the POS terminals offered in different sizes (each size offers a different number of compartments from four to eight). The best point of cash drawers is the safety and the simple use of them. You can choose a manual opening, key opening and system opening cash drawer which is done by the operator only. The simplicity is also about cash separation that allows the cashier to categorize coins and cash in different containers of the drawer.
Note that if you want to have a system opening option, the cash drawer needs to be connected to the POS system either through Bluetooth or through USB cables.
Receipt printer is also a vital hardware though nowadays due to environmental movements it is said reducing receipts help the ecosystem as less paper is used. Therefore, most of the customers prefer an online receipt either emailed or sent as a message to the customer. But we can’t miss having a section about this hardware!
Receipt printers are also divided into two main types:
- Impact printers
- Thermal printers
The impact printers work with ink or wax (same as cartridges of computer printers) to print the receipt on the papers. These printers use normal paper that is a cheaper option but the ink and wax is a real trouble. Thus, it is not recommended to retailers with high amounts of receipts per day.
The point is impact printed receipts are more resistible from heat and they are not easily removed by exposing them in the light. Therefore, it is a good choice for restaurants and warmer locations.
As the name says, the thermal printers use heat to print receipts without using any type of ink so it can be concluded it is a clean way. The only thing to consider is that thermal printers only work with special papers called thermal printer rolls that have a kind of embedded ink inside the paper. However, researchers found there are some harmful chemicals in these kinds of receipts that can lead humans to special illnesses. As a result, the best and the safest way to offer a receipt is to email the customer!
These printers can simply be connected to the POS system through USB or Bluetooth.
Transactions on POS system
Transactions are the last in-store actions of a customer. When the customer finishes browsing among the products and services you offer, and chooses what he/she needs, it is time to do the transaction on the POS system to pay for what they picked.
The transaction on POS system can be done through one of the following ways:
- Cash transaction
- Mobile transaction
- Credit card transaction
- Debit card transaction
- Customer loyalty points transactions
The first four ones are clear but the last one needs further explanation. Customer loyalty points transaction refers to those retailers who offer special points on customer shopping. For example, 1% of the whole receipt can be a customer point, when a customer purchases £1000 they can have a free £10 purchase by the points.
The whole transaction also has a specific process listed below:
- The operator (cashier) needs to sign in to the employees’ profile (a fingerprint or pin number can be required)
- If the customer is new, registering them to the system is a must, if they are loyal, ask the customer ID (it is usually their email or phone number)
- Enter the customer portal to add the new purchase
- Add the products to the list, either manually or by scanning the barcodes
- Choose the transaction way (one of the mentioned ways)
- Ask the customer if they need a printing receipt or only emailing is enough
- The transaction process is over
It is also a good idea to set some POS systems around the store so that customers can check the prices before cashing out.
Features of a POS system that will come handy to retailers
Up to now, you clearly learnt key issues about POS systems but there is something else left to explain. As it was mentioned, management and cashiering are done in a POS system so it can be said that there are two components in each POS system. One is the management component that managers access and the other is the cashing component that employees access.
The cash register component
This component allows the cashier (or any other employee) to do the transactions as fast as possible. Other actions such as adding or removing products, applying discounts, returning products and refunding, etc. can be done by this component.
Business management component
Through this side of the software, the manager(s) can check the inventory, receive real time analyzes and reports, review customer behavior, etc. and can be either installed on a PC or similarly on what the other side is installed. These features can help the manager to understand what runs in the business more accurately.
Other things which can be simply added integratedly to the business can be email or SMS marketing services, ecommerce accounting, website for online orders, etc. which can simply be added to the POS system to make it a perfect POS for any business.
Other key features of POS systems
- Offering different shopping platforms
- CRM (customer relationship management)
- Inventory and staff management
- Real time reports and analyzes
- Multi store management
- Side support
Offering different shopping platforms
Easily be connected to online platforms such as websites to centralize the managing and paying. (Here at AOTM we offer you free website design to help you grow your business as fast as possible). Note that the number of online customers is growing rapidly all around the world. Therefore, by adding a website to your business, you can simply access a majority of customers searching for what you offer.
Some of the benefits of this feature are:
- Increasing sale rate (even when the store is closed!)
- More customer satisfaction
- Having worldwide customers
- Lower setup costs
- One comprehensive branch
- No need to physical store
Using a POS system, you would be able to have a separated profile for each customer. This profile can tell a lot about each customer and reading the behavior would be easily done. By analyzing how the customer behaves in your store, you can create new plans to sell more. Some of the actions can be done by the POS system on CRM side can be:
- Payment information
- Payment history
- Favorite products
- Purchase history
- Shopping frequency
When you conclude what plans need to be added to the store, you can have a better impression on customers and make them feel you care about them. Note that customer loyalty plans can deeply help you in this road.
Consider if you add a discount plan for the loyal customers (for example those who had two purchases in a month) at the end of each month for the next purchase. This way the customers are not only more likely to have the next purchase, but also they are more likely to have a fuller purchase because there is a discount on the whole receipt.
The reason we focus on CRM and customer loyalty that much is that customers are everything in any business. When you make the customer happy, they will pay more attention to your business since they receive products they need with appreciation.
Inventory and staff management
A good management can lead the business to the top list of the world. Therefore, the existence of some tools to help the managing process is such an important factor in every POS system. Inventory and staff are two of the most vital sects in the business that need an accurate management and control. When you use a POS system, be sure that the management on these two factors can be done simply.
When and how to fill the inventory is the key feature that managing through the POS system can tell you. Besides, when you understand the behavior of each employee in the store, you can easily decide for promotions or suspensions. Here is the list of benefits on managing with a POS system:
- Special orders
- Work order management
- Integrated vendor catalogs and purchase orders (POs-read more about POs in the linked article)
- Schedule your employees
- Monitor each employee’s performance
- Assign specific user permissions
Real time reports and analyzes
Having detailed data about what is currently going on in your business is one of those key features that can make you have a clear insight of the selling. This means you can find top products, customers and even employees.
- When a product is sold many times, then inventory of that would be a more rational decision
- When a customer is performing impressively, considering special offers can make them have a higher customer experience
- When an employee is doing well, promotions and appreciations would be what they deserve
And all of the mentioned above can be fulfilled with an accurate analysis plus real time reports.
Multi store management
No matter how many branches your business has, with a POS system, feel free to manage all the branches simply. By connecting the POS system to your e-commerce, manage the online events as well. Here is what you can do with a POS system from Multi-store managing point of view:
- Manage your physical stores and e-Commerce store from in one place, comprehensively
- Add stores, users and cash registers to your POS as you open new locations, collectively
- Create ONE purchase order (PO) for ALL locations
- Access customer data across all branches
- Transfer items between stores
- Compare store performance to find the best store each month
Regardless of the experience and expertise you have in using POS systems, there could be always some questions that only happen in store to find them. Therefore, a good POS system service is the one with 24/7 support for any probable question. These questions can be asked through one of the ways below:
- Sending tickets online to the POS company
- Calling the company to send a technician
- Searching online for the solution
Last word: What POS system fits my business?
Last but not least about the POS systems is what POS to choose? There is a simple answer for this question. You can easily contact us through the official website of AOTM explain your business needs and goals and we offer you the best match. Note that what you choose can have a straight impact on the growth of the business and what we want is exactly your growth!