Friday, January 6, 2012

Point of Sale - Part 2

Most basic POS systems consists of a cash drawer, receipt printer, monitor, and an input device. Employees can use touch screens, programmable keyboards, scanners, or handheld terminals to enter data into a POS system.

A cash drawer is generally a compartment underneath a cash register in which the cash from transactions is kept. The drawer typically contains a removable till. The till is usually divided into compartments used to store each denomination of bank notes and coins separately to make counting easier. The removable till allows moneys to be removed from the sales floor to a more secure location for counting and creating bank deposits.
A cash drawer is usually of strong construction and may be integral with the register or a separate piece that the register sits atop. It slides in and out of its lockable box and is secured by a spring-loaded catch. When a transaction that involves cash is completed, the register sends an electrical impulse to a solenoid to release the catch and open the drawer.
Cash drawers that are integral to a stand-alone register often have a manual release catch underneath to open the drawer in the event of a power failure. More modern cash drawers have eliminated the manual release in favor of a cylinder lock, requiring a key to manually open the drawer. The cylinder lock usually has three positions: locked, unlocked, and release. The release position is an intermittent position with a spring to push the cylinder back to the unlocked position. In the "locked" position, the drawer will remain latched even when an electric signal is sent to the solenoid.

Many users find touch screens more intuitive to use than keyboards and touch screens provide flexible user interfaces and programming. Most touch screens are sleek flat-panel LCDs, which cost slightly more than traditional CRT monitors, but last longer, use less electricity, and take up less space. With both CRT and LCD displays, avoid "overlay" touch screens added on to regular monitors. They can be prone to breakdowns.
POS System Keyboards:
Grocery stores often prefer programmable POS keyboards that allow you to program individual keys for specific item codes and prices. Some POS keyboard models are standard 101-key models that you find with any computer. Others are smaller, more POS-specific devices, such as the flat-panel membrane keyboards common in fast food outlets. Often, POS keyboards come with built-in magnetic stripe readers for processing credit cards.

Scanners read a bar code and send the resulting numbers back to your POS system computer, improving speed and accuracy during checkout. They typically connect to the system through Y-connectors called wedges that make them function as an extension of the keyboard. Choose a scanner based on your average customer volume at checkout. 
  • Several customers: If you do not usually have more than a customer or two in line, CCD scanners or entry-level laser scanners should meet your needs.
  • Constant flow of customers: A fairly constant flow of customers might call for auto-sensing CCD or laser scanners. Auto-sensing CCD and laser scanners turn themselves on when an item is placed in front of them, scan the code, and then turn off again.
  • High-volume businesses: Very high volume businesses should investigate omnidirectional scanners and embedded scanners. Omnidirectional scanners send out 15 or 20 lasers simultaneously, letting you scan a bar code from any angle. Top-of-the-line embedded scanners, popular in supermarkets, are omnidirectional scanners installed below a counter.
Every POS system needs a printer to create credit card slips and receipts for customers. Many restaurants also use POS printers to send orders to kitchen and bar staff. You'll find dot matrix printers and thermal printers. Inexpensive dot matrix printers, also known as impact printers, use pins and an ink ribbon to print on regular paper. They are better suited for kitchens where ambient temperature can prevent thermal printers from working effectively. Thermal printers use heat and special heat-sensitive paper to generate receipts. They cost slightly more than dot matrix printers, but are faster, quieter, and generally more reliable because they have fewer moving parts. Over several years of use, the higher costs for thermal paper are just about balanced out by the need to buy both paper and ribbons for dot matrix printers.

Also known as pole displays, customer displays show item and price information to the customer and some support advertising (often called secondary displays). Compare size and display appearance and make sure your software is compatible with the display's emulation.

A cash register is a mechanical or electronic device for calculating and recording sales transactions, and an attached cash drawer for storing cash. The cash register also usually prints a receipt for the customer.
In most cases the drawer can be opened only after a sale, except when using a special keys, which only senior employees and the owner have. This reduces the risk of employees stealing from the shop owner by not recording a sale and pocketing the money, when a customer does not need a receipt but has to be given change (cash is more easily checked against recorded sales than inventory). In fact, cash registers were first invented for the purpose of eliminating employee theft or embezzlement, and their original name was the Incorruptible Cashier. It has also been suggested that odd pricing came about because by charging odd amounts like 49 or 99 cents, the cashier very probably had to open the till for the penny change and thus announce the sale.

POS software processes credit cards, but you'll still need a magnetic stripe reader to read the credit cards. Keyboards and touch screens often have built-in readers. If your input device does not, you'll need to purchase a standalone magnetic stripe reader.
Finger ID Reader:
For added security, you may also want to add a fingerprint ID reader to your POS system that limits which employees can access the POS terminal. Unlike PIN codes that can be read over someone's shoulder or magnetic swipe cards that can be forgotten by employees, stolen, or lost, fingerprint ID boxes read thumbprints and ensure the right employees can log on.
Source: Retailer Warehouse

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