Different points of sale
The hardware and software that’s best depend on your business needs. You may, for example, not need a cash drawer if the majority of sales are through card. Or maybe you need a portable system that works in a marketplace as well as inside. Let’s look at some examples of different points of sale.
Small café using simple cloud-based POS
A small café could choose to accept cards via a cloud-based POS application on an iPad connected to a Bluetooth-connected compact card reader. If taking cash, a cash drawer is important for maximum security. It is now the norm for POS apps to send receipts via email or text, so in theory, a budget POS setup could exclude a receipt printer. However, it is still a requirement in some countries to provide a paper receipt when asked for it, so you may not be able to do without it.
Use of iPad with a mobile card reader is now a common sight in cafés, pubs and bars in London – here pictured at Mare Street Market. Photo: Emily Sorensen, Mobile Transaction
With the cloud-based POS, the business owner can check sales from home in the POS back office account and send a daily Excel report to the accountant. The person cashing up in the cafe just needs to clock out on the iPad, check discrepancies between registered transactions and actual cash and card takings, organise banking and any other important end-of-day activities.
Retailer using locally hosted POS
A shop might choose an on-site POS system if their internet is not reliable or they prefer having all data stored on their premises only. The equipment is usually non-portable, installation requires professional help, and the software usually needs an IT person to physically come and perform them on-site. All of these costs add up, hence why it is mainly large retailers with the resources who are still opting for on-site POS.
A supermarket checkout is one of the most comprehensive types of POS, simply due to the volume and variety of products that need to be registered (sometimes priced by weight), prepared (alarm tags taken off, bagging items quickly) and paid for.
Retailers also have certain functionality that should be incorporated in the POS system, spanning from an inventory library to keep track of stock levels to hardware tools like a scale on the counter (for food priced according to weight), barcode scanner and a device for taking off alarm tags of liquor bottles or clothes. The most complex checkout system is usually a supermarket till point, due the variety and volumes of products sold. The more specialised the products sold, the more specialised the point of sale can be.
Restaurant chain using hybrid POS
Food and drink sectors like restaurants require a different set of features in the POS software than retailers. For one, it might need a way to send food orders to the kitchen in real time (perhaps through a connected kitchen printer), tipping options and a booking system for taking table reservations.
Example of a restaurant counter with touchscreen POS software by Lightspeed, connected receipt printer, card machine and cash drawer.