What is POS?
Point of sale also known as a POS system is a combination of software and hardware built to centralize business operations. It is responsible for managing the transactions for your business also including credit card processing and the post-transaction operations that result in customer fulfillment, whether in a restaurant or retail setting. In simple terms, a retail POS system or a POS system used in restaurants is a record of the location and time when a transaction occurred.
What happens at the POS
At the POS, a consumer will have to pay the amount that is owed by him to the vendor or merchant, at which point the merchant will be able to prepare an invoice for the consumer. The merchant could also provide different types of payment options to the consumer based on need or availability. On a macro scale, a POS can be classified as a market, an entire mall, or even a city. The microscale of point of sales generally refers to the merchant or a shop or a small location. POS can also be classified into real or virtual, with the former comprising of brick and mortar constructions such as malls or stores. Virtual points of sale are available in the e-commerce industry, where a retailer or trader may sell goods and carry out the transaction electronically over the phone or the Internet.
A POS terminal basically refers to a replacement for the conventional cash register. Generally, the terminal is computerized and is placed to automatically do things that can be achieved through manual labor. The currently used POS terminals are increasingly complex pieces of technology than registers from even nearly a decade ago. Contemporary point of sale terminals are capable of managing inventory, processing and recording payments, tracking customers, and communicating with systems within a network.
How to set up a POS system
Even though setup requirements differ based on the system, a number of new POS systems are tablet-based and can be easily installed when compared to their legacy counterparts.
You can actually decide whether you can set up a POS all by yourself or need help by going through the setup instructions that are mostly available on company websites. There are also companies that offer step-by-step guides and video tutorials that will help you through the entire process. Some companies also provide remote assistance, and several others even recommend local installation partners who can set up the POS system for you, though these services could have additional costs.
You may also come across complex setup requirements in more advanced POS systems, and it is also possible for the company to charge a setup and installation fee upfront in order to preconfigure your system before the shipping could take place, hence you will just have to plug and play once you receive the POS system. As an alternative, the concerned company could also offer data migration, remote or onsite setup assistance, and training services. For these services, you pay either a set fee or pay by the hour.
Whether you choose to get a more advanced POS system that has to be installed by the company or just go in for a simple POS system that can be set by yourself, always ensure to give yourself adequate amount of time to set up the system before you plan on actually using it. Besides the hardware setup, you will also need to spend time on the software setup, creating a menu or adding inventory, and also training your employees on how to use the POS system.
How to set up POS hardware
Tablet POS systems are generally cloud-based and need reliable internet access. Others are hybrid systems that make use of a local server but save your data to the cloud, permitting you to access back office features like reporting online from any device with a browser. Cloud-based systems can be easily set up. Setting up of a simple tablet POS system could take place in the following manner:
Download the app from Google Play or App Store
Open the app, create an account or enter your account credentials
Plug in the card reader to the headphone jack or lightning port, or connect through Bluetooth
Connect the receipt printer either to the router using a cable or to the tablet via Bluetooth
Connect the printer to the cash drawer
Connect the barcode scanner to the tablet via Bluetooth
In case your system is a hybrid that uses the cloud for data storage and back office tasks but works on a local server, you will also need to connect a computer to the system.
How to set up POS software
After logging into your account, go to the Settings menu and configure the account settings to your liking. For instance, you can:
Set up sales tax rates
Decide whether you want to require or skip signatures for transactions
Set up tipping options, if suitable for your business
Add employees and manage permissions or assign roles
Connect to third-party integrations
Customize receipts with your business logo, name, address and other information like your return policy
Furthermore, in a retail POS system you will have to create a product catalog and add your inventory. For POS systems used in restaurants, you will have to develop a floorplan and menus and add your inventory. Contact information for your customers and suppliers can also be added.