What is a Point of Sale Terminal?

A. Leverkuhn

A point of sale terminal is a common part of today’s retail technology that customers often see at checkout. The point of sale terminal is basically an electronic cash register, updated from older traditional models to include electronic/online technology for more versatility for tasks including credit card processing. Merchants can buy or rent a point of sale terminal along with other services and equipment according to their budget and needs.

Cashier software is sometimes referred to as point of sale (POS) software.
Cashier software is sometimes referred to as point of sale (POS) software.

Point of sale or or POS equipment is often part of an overall “merchant credit card account” or “credit card processing service” that third parties offer to a range of businesses. Companies of all sizes like to outsource POS credit card processing options to make their operations easier to manage. In these kinds of situations, the third-party service adds rented equipment to the bill for credit card processing.

Some modern point of sale terminals also use barcode scanners to track inventory.
Some modern point of sale terminals also use barcode scanners to track inventory.

Retailers and other businesses use various kinds of POS equipment. Smaller options like wireless POS modules or specific credit card reader machines are handy for mobile businesses such as event concessions or outdoor sales kiosks. Some of the POS technologies offered to these merchants include portable wireless options for recording and processing credit card transactions. In restaurants, business leaders sometimes use mobile POS solutions to help servers process credit card transactions at a table.

A cashier makes change at an older model cash register, one type of POS terminal.
A cashier makes change at an older model cash register, one type of POS terminal.

In contrast to these other mobile POS options, a point of sale terminal is most commonly a “wired” part of a semi-permanent retail installation. POS terminal models include cashier-operated and self-checkout options. Both are frequently attached to permanent installations for long-term retail use.

A point of sale terminal at a restaurant may be used to enter orders and send them to the kitchen as well as process bills.
A point of sale terminal at a restaurant may be used to enter orders and send them to the kitchen as well as process bills.

Over the years, as point of sale terminal technology improved, manufacturers found ways to incorporate more advanced features into these high tech cashiering machines. Self-checkout POS terminal designs often include handy software elements for managing preferred customer identification, complex sales like alcohol vending, and much more. In hospitalities, POS terminal designs can help staff book rooms or manage billing for amenities. In restaurants, POS technology can be meshed with table-waiting software for better control of a dining area.

Hospitalities, food service, and retail are not the only businesses that use point-of-sale terminals. Different types of point-of-sale terminals are popular with more obscure kinds of businesses that sell a specific product to a narrow target audience. These merchants can choose customized POS options and merchant credit card processing services that help them to make their business thrive using its own “economy of scale.” Those who are too small to benefit from some kinds of POS technologies on their own can cooperate with similar businesses if they share a POS environment. POS technology has changed the way the world does business, adding a lot of flexibility to the global marketplace.

Many large and small retailers use point of sale terminals to process their daily sales transactions.
Many large and small retailers use point of sale terminals to process their daily sales transactions.

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Discussion Comments

anon209012

There are a few mobile options, and there are some popular ones like square or intuit. But none of them seem to be cloud-based. There is one that recently launched and seems to be very complete, it's called SalesVu, it's cloud-based, the app is free to download, its card processing fee is cheaper than square (2.7 percent), and it works perfectly, more if you own a serious business since you can manage multiple devices, you can actually manage your entire business from anywhere at any time from their website. Check it out online or in the apple store. I hope you find this helpful.

anon208920

There's a new solution from SalesVu which seems to have a competitive transaction rate and has more features for mobile businesses. Also has marketing feature that integrates with Facebook too.

anon208500

Are there any cloud-based POS options out there? We are looking for a cheaper solution; maybe one that is mobile as well.

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