What's the Difference Between a Cash Register and a POS System?
Depending on how old you are...
You may not even remember old-fashioned cash registers. They were little more than an adding machine with a cash drawer attached. Except for a few electronic improvements, they remained virtually unchanged for most of the twentieth century.
They don't make paper cuts like they used to!
As a teenager, my first real job was bagging groceries at a Piggly Wiggly in Americus, GA. The year was 1986, and the bags were all paper. Back then, checkout girls had to read the price stickers on every item and manually key in the prices as the customers waited patiently. Their fingers were fast as lightning, but the process was slow by today's standards. And there was no way to know if they made a mistake and rang up the wrong price. What about inventory control, you ask? We had no way to track inventory at that time other that physically counting every item on the shelves. Needless to say, it took more people to run a grocery store in those days!
Wow! Is it magic, Mommy?
As computers started to become more affordable in the late 1980s and early 1990s, someone figured out how to attach a PC to a cash drawer, and voila!... the modern Point of Sale (POS) system was born. Price stickers were quickly replaced with UPC labels. The old-style numeric keypads still exist, but their functionality has been almost totally replaced by scanners, barcode readers, and touchscreens. Instead of waiting for the total to be announced by the checkout girl, today's shoppers can watch an LCD screen as it displays the price of each item scanned and the running total. If those were all the improvements offered the modern POS system, it would be impressive. But because POS systems are built upon powerful computers, they're able to do things we never even dreamed of when I worked at the Pig.
Would a POS system help your business?
You may have wondered "Can a POS system help me run my restaurant more efficiently?" Or if you own a retail store, you may be asking "Would a POS system help me make better business decisions?" The answers are Yes! and Oh yes! Read on...
¿Su empleado no habla inglés? No problem!
Back in the day, we punched a time clock to record when we arrived at work and left for the day. For retail stores and restaurants, time clocks are no longer needed. Modern POS systems, such as the POS-X systems I sell, have time clock functionality built in. As employees login and logout, their time at work is calculated automatically. Language may not have been an issue in the past, but many of today's employees speak English as a second language, or not at all. With many POS systems, including those by POS-X, the display can be set to alternate seamlessly between English and many other languages. This means that if you have employees who are more comfortable speaking other languages, you can set the software so that each employee can enter and read orders using his/her native language!
You want Foie Gras or fries with that?
Nowhere are the benefits of a POS system more apparent than in the management of a restaurant. Gone are the days when a waitress would give her hand-written orders to the kitchen staff, hoping they could read her writing and prepare her orders correctly. Today, when a POS system such as the turnkey model XLD-40 by POS-X is coupled with Aldelo restaurant software, a restaurant's entire menu is loaded into the computer. Servers enter their orders with just a few finger taps to the touchscreen, and the orders immediately appear on printers throughout the restaurants. Grill items are printed at the grill, bar item are printed at the bar, etc. And a summary of the order is printed in the area where servers accumulate the plated orders and prepare them to serve.
Other popular features of POS restaurant software, such as Aldelo, include: automatic tracking of gratuities, integrated credit card processing, the ability to issue and manage gift cards, scheduling reservations, tracking deliveries, and the ability to easily add retail items such as hats and tee-shirts to orders. Aldelo's website offers a complete list of their features that will improve your restaurant's operations. Or, if you're ready to shop for a turnkey POS system for your restaurant, I'd be glad to share my price/spec sheet for the XLD-30 or the XLD-40.
Can a POS system help my family's small retail business?
In a retail environment, a POS system can consolidate all business functions into a single location, up front where the action is. It's no longer necessary for the manager to retire to a back room and analyze inventory reports to determine what to order. As merchandise arrives, employees scan the barcodes and the items are instantly added into inventory. And if your suppliers don't provide barcodes, software such as Proxis Store Manager, which is included with POS-X retail systems, can generate barcode stickers in a snap. The software automatically updates your inventory levels as merchandise is sold. This means you always know which widgets are selling best, how many widgets you have on the shelf, and which ones need to be put on sale. Of course, tighter control of inventory also helps reduce shrinkage and loss due to employee theft.
Goodbye paper. Hello plastic!
Gone are the days of issuing paper gift certificates. Retail POS systems, like the XLR-40 by POS-X, propel your store into the 21st century, allowing you to issue modern gift cards that your customers can redeem all at once or over several visits. The software powering these POS systems, such as Proxis Store Manager, makes gift card management a breeze. And credit card processing is totally integrated, so there's no need to re-enter the sale amount into a separate credit card terminal. This totally eliminates any chance of entering the wrong dollar amount.
With a POS station, you have total control.
All of your store's important information can be accessed at the POS system, available only to those with the proper security clearance. Or, if you prefer, you can install a separate workstation in an office and connect it to your POS system(s) through a local area network. That will allow you to manage the business in the back while your employees serve customers up front.
Improve customer service and target your advertising
Does your retail store have "preferred" customers to whom you regularly give special discounts? With a POS system, this process is automated, so there's no need for a manager's approval. You can put an item on sale without even notifying the staff. With a few clicks of the mouse, prices are changed and go into effect immediately. Would you like to know where your customers are driving from? Which town, or even which zip code? The immense amount of information supplied by your POS system can help you make better advertising decisions in addition to better purchasing decisions. The most important decisions may be "Should I invest in a POS system now? And if not now, when?"
Retail POS software, such as Proxis, offers too many benefits to discuss all of them here. Proxis' website offers a complete list of the features that can make your retail business run more efficiently. Or, if you're ready to shop for a turnkey retail POS system from a reputable manufacturer such as POS-X, I'd be glad to share my price/specification sheet for the XLR-40.
If you've already considered a POS system, you may have been discouraged by their high cost. Like any new technology, POS systems were overpriced in their early years, and many are still overpriced today. But if you desire the speed, efficiency, and total control of information that a POS system provides, you shouldn't give up on the idea. Consider one of the robust yet lower-cost models available, such as those offered by POS-X. And if you're able to purchase a system from a company that combines their POS systems with preferential rates for credit card processing, your new POS system might pay for itself sooner than you thought possible!