POS System Essentials

POS stands for Point of Sale and refers to the shop location, where all transactions are finalized and paid for. Both retail and restaurant managers commonly deploy POS systems to enhance efficiencies and speed up customer through-put. Unlike cash registers, POS systems supply a multitude of advanced functions to handle business operations such as graphical table & menu management. In addition, they offer a wealth of analysis and reporting options crucial for larger businesses. The driver behind these features is the POS software.

CPU

Like the PC, the POS system’s brain is the CPU (central processing unit). The CPU drives data throughput and crunches the numbers. With high CPU speeds you can run more complex POS software applications. Today, most POS systems use chips, which are PC based. The clocking speed is indicated in MHz and is a rough indicator of processing power. However, the type of processor such as the VIA, ATOM, or Celeron chip ultimately remains key in evaluating the CPU’s performance and influences the price of the system.

Operating System

The Operating system (OS) is the basic installed software, which runs the POS system hardware. It also runs applications such as POS software. Vendors can offer proprietary software, Open Source software such as Linux, or Microsoft based products. Each has its own pros and cons. Linux, for instance, does not require license fees, but lacks many of the drivers which MS products already come with. Moreover, Linux uses fewer resources and is more secure than MS products, which in turn suffer from more security threats such as viruses. Conversely, MS products offer the applications and familiarity we all know and love from our PCs.

Technology - Embedded Vs PC Based

POS systems are either embedded (proprietary) or PC based. Proprietary POS systems do not require any OS installation, as everything comes pre-loaded. Hardware configuration is not required nor are the common PC problems present. Further, embedded POS systems do not come with the large price tag. PC based systems, on the other hand, run your favorite applications and allow you to install your own software. They usually contain more powerful processors, which is why you find them in larger stores and restaurants. Obviously the greater processing power means you will be paying a premium also. The choice here depends on what you need. Do you want a system ready to go or do you wish to customize everything?

Memory

Once again, we can draw parallels from the PC. The more memory you have, the faster the POS system will handle applications.

Storage

Storage refers to how much information the system can store locally on a permanent basis. Hard drives provide more storage space, but are more expensive, whereas FLASH storage is cheaper, but does not deliver the same volume.

Interfaces

  • USB – scanners, sticks, printers, keyboards
  • RS232 – scanners, scales, modems, etc
  • LAN - networking
  • PS/2 – mouse & keyboard
  • Cash drawer (RJ11)
  • Card slots

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