Every business sells something. That “something” can be products, services, or other transactions. Whatever the type of sale, each business requires a system for processing that sale. These systems are often referred to as POS, or Point of Sale, systems.
Most people know what these systems are. Often, they are referred to as cash registers. However, a modern POS system is much more than a simple cash register. As technology advances, these POS systems become more advance and take on more roles within the business.
What is a POS System?
A POS system is any system where sales transactions are made. A POS system can be a standalone device or even an extension of an entire system that allows the processing of sales. A powerful POS system can provide businesses with a whole lot more than making change or providing a sales receipt.
Although a POS system is often compared to a cash register, it is probably better to compare them to a computer system. This is because they utilize many of the same features as a computer and are often connected to a local server or internet connection.
A POS system utilizes hardware and software together to process all business transactions at the point of purchase. It can even provide a variety of services to make many functions of a business easier. Some systems can even provide software to maintain employees.
Descendants of Cash Registers
A POS system is a descendant of old cash registers. Before cash registers, when a customer would make a purchase, money would simply change hands. Any receipts or calculations necessary would be done on paper by hand. Unfortunately, this was not always accurate and left the money vulnerable to unscrupulous employees.
In 1879, a saloon owner in Dayton, Ohio, named James Ritty, got fed up with employees pilfering his profits. This prompted him to collaborate with John Birch to create the first mechanical cash register. It was patented in 1883 and called Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier.
This machine provided a method for adding sales totals and storing cash. When a purchase was rung up, the bell would ring and the drawer would open. This notified the manager of the sale taking place. This little invention helped business owners everywhere to minimize losses due to theft.
Since that invention, cash registers went through a plethora of changes. They began printing receipts and even keeping track of the sales throughout the day. These advancements helped to create the POS systems used today.
What a POS System Can Do
After many advances, POS systems can do a lot more than the original cash register could ever dream of doing. Today’s systems provide a convenient method for anyone to easily use the programs and successfully execute a sale or other task on the system.
Today’s POS systems can do far more than simply ring up sales. They can also provide a complete accounting of all sales throughout the day. It can even keep track of each item and from which department the item came from. This can make it easier for companies to maintain inventory.
Some POS systems offer time clock software. This allows employees to clock in and out on the POS system. Not only does the feature provide a convenient method for keeping track of hours, but it can also help managers manage labor costs.
These systems can even keep track of customer trends. For example, if it seems that customers buy certain products at certain times of the week or month, managers can ensure the right amount of stock is available or even implement sales during these periods.
Many POS systems also offer the ability to add third-party software. This allows businesses to add programs to their systems that will work best for their individual business needs. A POS system that can evolve to match the needs of a business can help that business stay competitive.
The Future of POS Systems
Throughout the years, cash registers often required a person to be trained on the machine. Some systems were quite complicated and had many functions that were specific to a particular business. This required new employees to be trained in the use of the cash register.
Today’s POS systems are very user-friendly. Most people can easily pick up how to process sales on the system without much training. This alone saves labor costs for many businesses. The easy-to-use design actually makes it possible for customers to process their own transactions.
More and more, self-checkout POS systems are popping up in businesses. This advancement can be a major benefit for all business owners. These systems take up less room than traditional checkouts, which allows for more stock. They also allow businesses to save on labor costs as there being no need for an employee to run the register.
Some larger businesses are exploring options that could eliminate the checkout line altogether. Some stores are providing options for customers to check out using their cellphone while in the aisles. Some stores have made the system more automated. In these stores, customers simply pick up the items they want and walk out of the store. Their purchases are then charged automatically to their bank account or credit card.
Getting Stuck in the Past
Although there are some downsides to creating a completely automated system in a business, it is important to not get too far behind in the use of technology. Even though customers still enjoy the interaction with employees, they want to be able to utilize the convenience and accuracy of these systems.
The business world is quite competitive. It is important for every business to take advantage of all options available to stay ahead of the curve. Self-checkouts may not be in everyone’s future, but getting caught with the equivalent of a mechanical cash register could mean the end is near for a business. It can be intimidating to completely change an entire business to stay up to date with the latest technology, but staying in business should always be the main goal. These systems can provide all the tools any business could need to compete in today’s world.