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Point of Sale Hardware – The Essential Components

We focused on the importance of choosing point-of-sale software prior to purchasing POS hardware in our previous post. Now it can help every retail business newbie to understand what comprise a typical POS hardware system or what most commonly refer to as the POS cash register.

A POS hardware system is comparable to your home computer system. It is composed of various POS peripherals which can be purchased individually or as a bundle. Here is a quick look at the basic components of a typical point of sale system.

POS Computer

POS computers run point of sale software and are the main component of every point of sale system. When you purchase a point of sale CPU, it either comes with a standard operating system or proprietary software supplied by your POS software supplier. While POS computers work pretty much like your conventional computer, it is prudent to use it exclusively for your business operations such as sales transactions, inventory control and reporting.

POS Monitor

There is a wide range of point of sale monitors that work with POS systems. You can choose from standard CRT monitors or flat-panel LCD monitors. CRT monitors are priced cheaper than LCD versions, although the latter are the more popular choice since they take up very little space at the check-out counters.

POS Cash Drawer

Another essential component to a POS system is the cash drawer. This hardware component receives signals from the computer or receipt printer and automatically opens and closes at some point during the transaction. It is used to store money, credit card receipts and other pertinent documents. When purchasing a cash drawer separately, it is vital to ensure that you choose one that is compatible with your POS system set-up.

Customer Display

Although it is optional to a basic point of sale system, most retail businesses choose to include a customer display or a pole display. This is a lighted display panel where customers can view transaction details. Most pole displays come with a customized messages feature which allows retailers to input a text readout that runs prior to or after a transaction. There are customer display models which can even be used for advertising purposes.

POS Scanners

Barcode scanners are accurate, time saving devices which significantly cut the slack at the checkout counter. Rather than having to encode each product when ringing up multiple items for a customer, cashiers will simply need to scan the barcodes attached to each product. Handheld scanners are recommended for small retail shops while embedded scanners work best for businesses with heavy check-out activity such as supermarkets and home depots.

Additionally, scanners can be used to add inventory to your database. There’s no need to manually input each piece of merchandise whenever you make replenishments.

POS Keyboard

A POS keyboard is your primary interface to the POS system. POS keyboards vary in complexity depending on a business’ specific needs. There are standard 101-key models which work like your home PC keyboard and there are also industry-specific keyboards with special programmable keys and magnetic stripe reader functionality.

POS Receipt Printer

POS receipt printers provide customers a printed record of each transaction. The same details are also stored in the POS system memory for recording, inventory and accounting purposes. Most POS systems these days work with thermal receipt printers which use thermal paper rolls for faster and quieter printing.

When choosing the components for your POS hardware system, be sure they comply with your POS software requirements. Also, check that you have the proper ports and cables for seamless connectivity.

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