The Changing Face of Point of Sale

Point of sale machines have changed from the regular code-entry digital devices they had once been. Now with increasing pressure to ensure that point of sale transactions are safe and secure, the devices used for the completion of these transactions are head and shoulders above their predecessors.

Photo: Milo Baumgartner/Flickr

Photo: Milo Baumgartner/Flickr

The old cash register with its familiar ‘cha-ching’ sound is no longer a part of the point of sale milieu of sound. Instead the faithful cash register has been replaced by technologically advanced devices that are seamlessly linked to inventory counts and sales receipts located in remote locations. Technology marches on and point of sale machines are not going to be left behind.

Traditional Point of Sale Terminals

Originally, when one thought of point of sale terminals, one instinctively defaults to the cash register. This faithful standby of days long past cut an imposing picture, sometimes taking up an entire corner of a sale counter. Operators had to be adept, but errors could be easily voided and fixed before the final tally for the day was taken.

It required salespersons who operated the register to be well trained in its use and understand how the process of completing a sale happened. At least one employee had to be skilled in the entry and calculation of sales, as well as keeping a running tally of inventory in their head.

Understanding that larger stores usually had larger inventory means that the sales person who was responsible for the point of sale was also responsible for keeping in their head the running tally of hundreds of items as well as the relevant prices, a daunting task for even those of us with photographic memories.

These machines were primitive, but with a trained salesperson, they operated very efficiently. As with all things, time marches on and before long the cash register gave way to a much more streamlined and user-friendly system.

Digital Revolution

The growth of the digital industry led to the creation of smaller, faster processing units that eventually made their way into point of sale machines. These machines automated much of the work of the point of sale personnel, making it much easier to for them to perform their tasks.

The ability of digital point of sale terminals to incorporate bar code readers into their hardware made it simple to update a database that referenced these bar codes and assigned them to prices based on the bar code themselves.

This automatic incorporation made it simple to update inventory records as well, and also allowed retail outlets to have sales across multiple remote geographic regions, simply by updating the master records for the prices.

At the end of the day, an automatic sales report can be generated and stored. The sheer amount of work that this removes from the average salesperson cannot be underestimated.

In this day and age, the single most time-consuming task that any retail business has to go through is taking inventory. Companies that invest in digital point of sale machines usually have less downtime for inventory management and stock-taking exercises. The major reason is because of the ease of automation of the process.

Managers can track sales individually from each retail outlet and alerts can also be assigned to remind the managers to reorder certain items before they go out of stock.

The ability to tie the point of sale with a database also ensures that products can be tracked to see how much of them remain stocked instead of having to manually count out each and every inventory item, a task that would usually have a retail chain down for at least a couple days while logistics were worked out.

From the point of view of a retail manager, these digital devices are a time and labor saving appliance worth far more than the cost paid for them.

Overall, point of sale terminals have become something of a futuristic foray. Technology from companies such as Shopify integrate an app overlay with existing technology, doing away with the need for specialized terminals.

With something and easily available and widespread such as an iPad, you can install a system that is both handy and extremely powerful for its purpose.

The benefit of this is, in terms of acquisition price, far lighter on the company’s budget than to acquire a specialized point of sale terminal and the requisite software to make it useful. Specialized terminals have their uses but to install and maintain them can be expensive.

With cutting-edge trends like specialized application overlays and incorporated inventory management and cloud access to your data, integrating a point of sale system has never been easier for a retail company. It is the mark of a successful business to look towards ways of maximizing its profit whilst keeping the cost of operation down to a minimum.

By introducing cheap, easily portable technology into the retail business, small to medium retail businesses now have a chance to experience the convenience of having an affordable point of sale system. Affordable technology has changed the very face of the point of sale terminal.

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