Understanding the Point of Sale (POS)
Table of Contents
What Is POS?
Let’s discuss the classic POS. No, I’m not talking about your busted up ride from college that you had to crawl through the passenger side door to get in and out of (But don’t get me wrong – that was definitely a POS!). Today I’m talking about the point of sale, which is undoubtedly the most important place you want your customers to visit. Customers who bypass the point of sale are basically bypassing your business altogether – and well, that’s not good. Simply put, the POS is the place where your customers pay you for goods or services rendered. You give them what they want, and they give you money. It’s a win-win situation.
In the traditional sense, a point of sale refers to the physical, hardware and software components of retail check-out lines and cash registers. Registers typically run POS software that may be linked to a dedicated server. The software helps track customer purchases, employee sales, inventory fluctuations and other details. In many cases, a cashier is responsible for overseeing transactions and ensuring they run smoothly and correctly, although a lot of grocery stores and chain retailers are letting customers self-check at user-friendly POS stations.
The components of your particular POS will vary according to your business needs. For example, if you own one of those shops that serves up self-serve yogurt, you’ve got to have a scale integrated into your POS. Similarly, retailers need barcode scanners, and restaurants require order customization capabilities.
Streamlining the POS
Stores with multiple points of sale need easy integration and connectivity. After all, who wants to take fifteen thousand hours to run separate reports and compare information from each individual register each week? Hell no!
Enter the introduction of the UnifiedPOS standard established by The National Retail Foundation. In an attempt to make it easier for business owners to interconnect multiple POS systems, a couple of major sales platforms – OPOS and JavaPOS — were developed in the 1990s for in-house POS networking.
Unless you are some kind of tech wizard, this type of set-up can be über-complicated for the average retailer, requiring A LOT of ongoing tech support. Although these types of systems are still being used and updated today, the POS has begun to evolve significantly in recent years. And trust me; the changes are definitely for the better.
Point of Sale Evolution: How Technology is Changing the POS
Thank God for the Internet. No, really. Today’s POS is so much better than those ancient systems we used a couple of decades ago, and businesses are operating so much more efficiently and with fewer boundaries than ever before. It’s like comparing the age of dial-up Internet to today’s lightning fast WIFI access and streaming. You wouldn’t think of going back, and our lives have undoubtedly changed for the better.
Today’s POS is connected to the cloud (that’s a fancy word for secured remote servers accessed via the Internet). In other words, with a new and updated system, each of your points of sale is not only interconnected, but you can access them externally from wherever you are. Sure, you could be that guy that spends his Sunday afternoons at the store running the week’s reports, transferring them into QuickBooks and then backing up your system’s sales information. OR – you could do all of that…from your couch…on your iPad…during a single football commercial break. You see, today’s POS isn’t just better software – it’s better connectivity. You can literally take your POS to-go with iPad-based or other Internet capable devices. With a cloud-based point of sale system, business owners are experiencing:
- Account Software Integration
- Social Media Integration
- Mobile Payment Support
- Automatic System Updating
- Automatic Backup
- Secure Remote Server Support
- Inventory Management
- Account Tracking
- Employee Tracking
…and a partridge in a pear tree.
Updating or Purchasing a New Point of Sale
If your old POS system just isn’t cutting it, or if you are getting ready to start a new business venture, make absolutely certain you choose a cloud-based system. Not only will you have an easier integration process and simpler reporting, but back-ups are automatic, inventory tracking is easy, there is also no need for an in-house dedicated server, and you damn sure won’t be dealing with endless hours of tech support troubleshooting. Take a look at our POS software comparison page to find a vendor that fits your needs.
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