Do you still use an electronic cash register in your foodservice establishment? If so, you’re sacrificing many benefits—primarily, the ability to easily control and grow your business. These advantages become a reality when you migrate to a computerized point of sale system. Review the answers to the following questions for everything you need to know about point of sale systems and their components.
Q: Do the terms “point of sale” and “point of sale system” mean the same thing?
A: No. The point of sale is where the transaction is physically rung up. A point of sale system comprises the computer hardware and software through which the transaction is processed.
Q: What are the various types of point of sale systems?
A: There’s the traditional computerized point of sale system, which can be configured to include one point of sale station or multiple stations in a single store or in multiple stores. The two other main point of sale system categories are web-based point of sale and mobile point of sale.
Q: What are the components of a traditional computerized point of sale system?
A: On the hardware side, a traditional computerized point of sale system includes a computer and peripherals. Some peripherals, such as a mouse or keyboard, facilitate the use of the computer. Other peripherals are point of sale-specific and enable operators to perform sales transactions. Point of sale-specific peripherals encompass cash drawers, bar code readers, receipt printers, magnetic stripe readers (for reading the magnetic stripe on credit cards), PIN pads (for customer entry of personal identification numbers), and touch screens.
Then, there’s software. At the top of the list is point of sale software, which is the lynchpin for completing sales transactions and managing your business. Point of sale software automatically collects and stores customer, sales, and inventory data; the data can be harnessed to generate an analysis of sales, tax, and other reports. Many merchants opt to integrate other software modules—including inventory management and labor management modules, to name a few—with their point of sale software.
The other kind of software used by every point of sale system is general computer software. General computer software functions as the “enabler” for using and interacting with the computer. Its primary component is an operating system (OS)—e.g. Windows, Mac, or Linux.
Q: What is a web-based point of sale system, and what kind of software does it use?
A: A web-based point of sale system functions like the computerized point of sale system discussed above. However, unlike any traditional point of sale system, a web-based point of sale system does not have point of sale software installed on it. Instead, this software is hosted on secure servers with real-time backups and can be accessed via the Internet from any computer with a connection. So, if you want to tap into your point of sale system to view data and reports while you’re away from your restaurant(s), you can do so via your own or someone else’s desktop or laptop computer—and sometimes from a mobile device. You can even use the software with one operating system in one part of your establishment (such as a Windows-based PC at the front counter) and a different operating system in another (like an Apple Mac in the back office).
Q: What is a mobile point of sale system?
A: A mobile point of sale system utilizes an app or web-based software. Instead of accessing the software and completing sales transactions on a stationary computer, operators with a mobile point of sale system take payments on mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. In restaurants, a mobile point of sale system can be leveraged to accept payments at the table or as customers wait in line for service.
Now that you understand just what a point of sale system is, how it works, and the different configurations in which it’s available, you can easily decide how you’ll move beyond the electronic cash register realm.