POS 101: The Basics of POS Systems

What is a POS system?

Whether your business is a retail store or a restaurant, the proverbial magic happens at the point of sale. Increasingly, merchants are ditching their old cash registers and opting for full point-of-sale systems. These POS systems combine specialized hardware and software into an integrated business solution for handling transactions, inventory management, and customer loyalty programs.

How does a POS system work?

POS systems combine sales, inventory, and management systems into a cohesive unit. When a sale is finalized, the computer automatically subtracts the sold items from the store inventory. The system also attributes the sale to a specific customer, which makes it simple for merchants to implement rewards programs for regulars. Customer service departments can also access this information, which allows customer service representatives to provide fast, accurate, and organized help.

All of this information can be processed into a business report, which can help managers decide when to order more stock, identify whether their marketing strategies are working, and track performance across department or stock.

What does a POS system do for a merchant?

Retail and hospitality businesses need to perform a few basic tasks:

  • Sell goods or services. This is the core function of any merchant. Retail and hospitality businesses need to sell goods or services, and they need to do it efficiently. Inefficiency leads to backups and lost business.
  • Manage inventory. Merchants need to track what stock enters and leaves the store. This data allows the merchant to decide when to reorder product and identify which products are most popular, among other things. Poor inventory management leads to overstocking or understocking.

POS Systems help merchants accomplish these tasks, and they also have other functions:

  • Streamline sales. POS systems help make faster, more accurate sales. Sales data are also computerized, so there are no unnecessary paper tickets or lost transactions.
  • Manage inventory. POS systems perform automatic inventory management. Each item in a sale is subtracted from the store inventory, and the system generates notifications when stock is running low.
  • Track customers. POS systems track sales by customer, which allows businesses to implement rewards programs. The system can offer suggestions for the customer, display targeted advertising, and track customer rewards.
  • Create reports. POS systems generate sales reports. These reports summarize inventory and sales data along with other information to provide the merchant with comprehensive resources for improving its business plan.

Not only do POS systems combine all of the critical functions of the business, they also automate the management of those functions and make them easy to read and manage.

Is a POS system necessary?

While a POS system is not strictly necessary for every business, businesses of every size can benefit from them.

Small and medium businesses can take advantage of the computerized sales system and automatic inventory management to increase the number and accuracy of sales and reduce the number of manual inventories necessary over the course of the year. In a retail environment, this means smoother and faster processing, even when lines are long. In a restaurant environment, this means efficient table organization, easy check splitting, and accurate ticket creation.

Large businesses rely on POS systems for those tasks and more. When many thousands of dollars in transactions are processed on a daily basis, it pays to know what and how often customers are buying. Automatic inventory allows a business of this scale to function much more efficiently and minimizes the risk of understocking during peak sales periods. Computerized sales allow rapid transactions and simplify the customer service process.

Operating a business without using a POS system is possible in some cases, but it puts unnecessary strain on the employees and business model. With the convenience, speed, and versatility of modern POS systems, it’s virtually guaranteed that a POS system will improve function and revenue.

What does a POS system cost?

Traditionally, POS systems are expensive. Many models cost tens of thousands of dollars each, which means that they’re out of reach of most small and medium businesses.

Host Merchant Services provides innovative solutions that include affordable POS systems. Our options come with low fees and no upfront costs, so they’re affordable for businesses of any size.

Often, it is easier to buy both the hardware and software as part of a single package from one distributor. This guarantees smooth and consistent service, and it avoids fees and gaps in service that may stem from mix-and-match POS solutions.

Although the upfront cost may seem daunting for smaller businesses, the initial investment will pay or itself in short order. The simplified sales system makes it possible to process transactions faster, thus increasing throughput. Automatic inventory management reduces the need to regularly pull employees for manual inventorying. The result? Employees work more efficiently and can dedicate their time to customer service and sales, and revenue increases accordingly.

What’s the best POS system?

The short answer to this question is, “Whichever system fits your business.” The advantages of using a POS system all relate to the system’s ability to improve a business’s flow and function. A POS system that is properly tailored to a business’s needs will achieve those improvements, but a POS system that is poorly tailored to a business’s needs will lead to difficulties and may even result in a decrease in productivity.

Where can I get a POS system?

Host Merchant Services provides POS systems as part of our credit card processing packages. We offer your business complete solutions, including processing, hardware, software, setup, and support. To inquire about our available offers, please contact a sales representative for more information:

[email protected]

877-517-HOST (4678)

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