Industry Terms: Point of Sale

May 29, 2012

This is the latest installment in The Official Merchant Services Blog’s Knowledge Base effort. Well we want to make the payment processing industry’s terms and buzzwords clear. We want to remove any and all confusion merchants might have about how the industry works. Host Merchant Services promises: the company delivers personal service and clarity. So we’re going to take some time to explain how everything works. This ongoing series is where we define industry related terms and slowly build up a knowledge base and as we get more and more of these completed, we’ll collect them in our resource archive for quick and easy access. Today’s terms is Point of Sale (POS).

Point of Sale (POS)

The location at which a payment card transaction occurs, usually by way of a device such as a credit card terminal or cash register. The term is usually associated with retail points-of-sale, but also applies to any initial point where the customer presents payment to the merchant, such as by telephone or Internet.

The location is also sometimes referred to as Point of purchase (POP) or Checkout.

Point of Sale Terminal (POS Terminal)

A terminal at the point of sale, connected via telecommunication lines to a central computer. Authorization, recording and transmission of electronic transactions are performed through the terminal. A POS terminal manages the selling process by a salesperson accessible interface. The same system allows the creation and printing of the receipt.

The retail industry is one of the predominant users of POS terminals. A Retail Point of Sales system typically includes a computer, monitor, cash drawer, receipt printer, customer display and a barcode scanner, and the majority of retail POS systems also include a debit/credit card reader.

Restaurant POS refers to point of sale (POS) software that runs on computers, usually touch screen terminals or wireless handheld devices. Restaurant POS systems assist businesses to track transactions in real time. Typical restaurant POS software is able to print guest checks, print orders to kitchens and bars for preparation, process credit cards and other payment cards, and run reports. In addition, some systems implement wireless pagers and electronic signature capture devices.

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