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Point of Sale Equipment Guide

Point of sale equipment is essential to completing transactions, so finding the right system is important for your business. Whether you're operating a dine-in restaurant or a retail store, reliable POS equipment and accessories can help you run a smooth operation and provide a positive customer experience.

What Does POS Mean?

POS stands for point of sale, which simply refers to the moment when a customer makes a purchase. A POS system is the equipment and software that enables your business to make sales.

Cash Register vs POS System

A cash register, or till, is a cash management machine that calculates a sale's total, records the sale, and contains a drawer for storing cash. POS systems perform the same functions as a cash register and collect and manage data to help your business run smoothly and efficiently.

Sharp XEA207 XE Series electronic cash register
Sharp XEA207 XE Series electronic cash register

Cash Register

Cash registers utilize a traditional register-based system that are ideal for businesses that only need to ring up and complete transactions, store money, and print out receipts. 

  • Affordable
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to use and require minimal training
  • Safe and secure way to keep track of and store money
  • Limited technology provides limited reporting capabilities; will need to manually track inventory and financials
  • Purchases may not be as quick as POS systems

POS System

POS systems combine point of sale hardware and point of sale software to go beyond a cash register's basic sales reporting. It allows operators to manage sales plus provides a variety of business management tools under one computer system. POS systems are ideal for high-volume businesses with multiple check out areas and/or mutliple locations as well as small businesses looking to streamline their operations and grow their business.

  • Provides reporting on inventory management, employee management, and marketing
  • Collects and stores customer data
  • Can run loyalty programs and implement promotions
  • Can be integrated with accounting software and e-commerce platform
  • User-friendly, intuitive, and easily grows with your business
  • Larger upfront cost with hardware and software requirements; typically have monthly software fees

Types of Point of Sale Hardware

POS hardware is what allows you to accept payments. When setting up a POS system, it is important to ensure that your business accepts all common forms of payment, including cash, credit cards, and mobile payments if possible. Additionally, it is important that your POS system can make and print labels, scan barcodes, and print receipts for quick transactions and proof of purchase.
Restaurant Equipment

Cash Drawer

If your establishment accepts cash as a form of payment, a cash drawer is a necessary piece of equipment to keep your money safe and secure. Both manually operated and electronically operated cash drawers are available to fit your needs. Electronically operated cash drawers stay locked to employees until a sale is made and can be connected to POS software to track when the drawer is opened.

Restaurant Equipment

POS Computer

POS computers act as an alternative to a register, allowing you calculate and process transactions as well as connect to other POS hardware and POS software, either by USB or WiFi.

Restaurant Equipment

Mobile Computers

Mobile computers combine PC and scanning functions in a single, handheld device to track deliveries, monitor inventory, and manage orders and sales. Great for warehouses, manufacturers, health care facilities, and businesses with multiple locations, mobile computers can help keep your establishment's data up to date and keep staff connected no matter their location.

Restaurant Equipment

Card Reader

A card reader lets your customers securely pay by credit card while in-store, via chip card or a magnetic stripe card.

Restaurant Equipment

Barcode Scanner

A barcode scanner reads an item’s barcode to bring up its price and details during the transaction process. Barcode scanners can also be used to manage inventory. Here are some considerations when purchasing a barcode scanner:

What kind of barcodes will you be reading? The first step in knowing what scanner you need is knowing if the scanner needs to read 1D or 2D barcodes.

What environment will the scanner be used in? Retail environments will most likely need ergonomically designed handheld scanners whereas warehouses and manufacturers will most likely need rugged/industrial scanners that can withstand extreme temperatures and other harsh conditions and are impact-resistant.

How many barcodes do you expect to scan in a day? If you have a high-volume operation, you may need a hands-free scanner to streamline your transactions.

Do you need it to be mobile? Corded scanners connect directly to a PC through a cable and may be all your business needs to operate. Cordless scanners connect to your system wirelessly for those who need added mobility when scanning.


Restaurant Equipment

Label Printers

Thermal label printers are essential for foodservice and retail environments looking to sell or ship packaged goods. There are two types of thermal printing methods: direct thermal and thermal transfer. Whereas direct thermal printers apply heat to chemically treated paper to create a label, thermal transfer printers use heat to bond a thin film of wax or resin coating onto a label.

Thermal Transfer Printers
  • High-quality and long-lasting print
  • Resistant to harsh conditions
  • Can be used with many different color ribbons
  • Requires ribbons
  • Typically more expensive
Direct Thermal Printers:
  • High-quality and long-lasting print
  • Resistant to harsh conditions
  • Can be used with many different color ribbons
  • Fade over time
  • Not ideal for harsh conditions (heat, water, strong sunlight, etc.)
  • Printhead may wear out faster
  • Can only print black

Restaurant Equipment

Receipt Printer

Receipt printers are required in almost every establishment, providing customers with proof of purchase. Some factors to consider when purchasing a receipt printer is the print method, print speed, and any features, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, that best suit your needs.

Thermal Printers

Direct thermal printers print by direct contact between the thermal head, which generates heat, and thermal paper, which is chemically treated to be sensitive to heat.

  • Fast and quiet printing
  • Do not need any ink or toner, which saves businesses money over time
  • Images do not last long
  • Not suitable for high-heat environments
  • More costly upfront
  • Can only print black on white
Impact Printers

Impact printers, or dot matrix printers, have tiny pins that are mounted on the print head, which work with an ink ribbon to produce a series of dots that form the letters on the paper.

  • More cost effective
  • Designed to work in high-heat environments, making them great for kitchens and food trucks
  • Produce high-quality, long-lasting images
  • Can often print in two colors
  • Can create carbon copies
  • Print speed is typically slower than thermal printers
  • Printing noise level is typically higher than thermal printers

Additional Point of Sale Equipment

While these accessories might not be required for every POS system, you may find them useful for your business.

Restaurant Equipment

ID Scanners

If you’re serving alcohol at your establishment, it is important to have ID scanners at your register to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors.

Restaurant Equipment

Restaurant Pagers

Restaurant pagers enable management and staff members to quickly send alerts to other employees when they're needed or to guests when their tables are ready. Pagers eliminate the need for loud overhead paging or raised voices from the kitchen, and they help increase a staff's accessibility and response time.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

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