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POS Terminals

What is a point of sale? A point of sale (POS) is defined as a location where customers provide payment for goods and services. Most points of sale take place at a point-of-sale terminal, a physical machine or virtual application (often run through another device) used to take payments from customers. Point of sale terminals can be found at most businesses. They are used to add up the total price of the goods or services being purchased and accept the customer’s preferred payment method, either by cash, debit, or credit.
For any goods or services, payment is required either before or after the product is given to the customer. Point of sale terminals typically include three main components:
A primary computer, where a cashier or clerk scans or enters the goods or services being purchased
A cash register to facilitate physical monetary transactions (dollar bills and coins)
Other supporting software such as a chip reader for credit cards or a receipt printer linked to the primary point of sale computer
Point of sale terminals are important to businesses because they make the process of checking a customer out both faster and easier. On most types of POS terminals, the cashier simply must scan an item or tap an icon depicting the product and the system will automatically tally the price toward the final receipt.
There are many types of POS systems, including simple registers, open-source and touch-screen systems, and mobile card readers and applications. Department stores use bar code scanners to make the checkout process easier. Most modern POS systems, such as mobile scanners, require an internet connection. The largest advantage to using a POS system is overall time savings, but POS systems also require little maintenance other than software updates and provide a secure and sometimes automated way for customers to pay for products and services.
The full meaning of POS is “point of sale,” or, in other words, it’s where your transaction is finalized. The term itself can have a couple of different interpretations. In the narrowest sense, it means that the terminal that sits beside the cash register to process credit and debit cards, and any gift cards you accept at your business.
More often, when you speak of a POS machine, you’ll be thinking about the whole terminal, that has an informative screen and the ability to handle every payment type. There are a lot of special-purpose POS devices, too, and they fall somewhere between the simple card terminal and a comprehensive, full-bore POS system. Whether your needs take you to the high-end or the low-end, every POS machine needs to handle some of the same basic functions.
A modern retail POS machine goes way beyond the basic functions of an old-school cash register, even when it looks like one on the outside. On an ancestral cash register, you needed to enter the price of each product manually; now, however, the prices are pre-programmed into the system and are read from a bar code scanner. That cuts down substantially on the potential for mistakes, and it also improves the accuracy of your sales reports. The POS terminal can be set up to track and record your sales of products and services in just about any way that’s meaningful to you, and usually, this ties directly into your accounting software so that information is always at your fingertips.
You can think of POS systems as technologically advanced cash registers. Beyond just calculating purchases totals, however, modern point-of-sale systems for retail process transactions, hold information about your inventory, process payments, collect business data, and a lot more.
Types of POS systems
There are four main types of POS systems that small businesses use today: legacy, tablet, mobile, and cloud-based POS systems.
Legacy POS system
Tablet-based POS system
Mobile POS system
Cloud-based POS system

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