The purpose of offer (POS) is the time and place where a retail exchange is finished. It is the time when a client makes an installment to the shipper in return for merchandise or after arrangement of an administration. At the purpose of offer, the vendor would set up a receipt for the client (which might be a money register printout) or generally figure the sum owed by the client and give choices to the client to make installment. In the wake of accepting installment, the shipper will likewise typically issue a receipt for the exchange. Typically the receipt is printed, however it is progressively being administered electronically.
The POS in different retail circumstances would utilize tweaked equipment and programming customized to their specific prerequisites. Retailers may use measuring scales, scanners, electronic and manual money registers, EFTPOS terminals, touch screens and an assortment of other equipment and programming accessible. For instance, a basic need or confection store may utilize a scale at the purpose of offer, while a bar and eatery may utilize programming to alter the thing or administration sold when a client has a supper or beverage demand.
The point of sale is often referred to as the point of service because it is not just a point of sale but also a point of return or customer order. Additionally, today POS software may include additional features to cater for different functionality, such as inventory management, CRM, financials, warehousing, etc.
The most common term used is the point of sale, particularly when talking about this area from the customer’s perspective. However retailers and marketers will often refer to the area around the checkout instead as the point of purchase (POP) when they are discussing it from the retailer’s perspective. This is particularly the case when discussing planning and design of the area as well as a marketing strategy and offers.
Software prior to the 1990s
Early electronic cash registers (ECR) were controlled with proprietary software and were limited in function and communications capability. In August 1973 IBM released the IBM 3650 and 3660 store systems that were, in essence, a mainframe computer used as a store controller that could control up to 128 IBM 3653/3663 point of sale registers. This system was the first commercial use of client-server technology, peer-to-peer communications, local area network (LAN) simultaneous backup, and remote initialization. By mid-1974, it was installed in Pathmark stores in New Jersey and Dillard’s department stores.
One of the first microprocessor-controlled cash register systems was built by William Brobeck and Associates in 1974, for McDonald’s Restaurants. It used the Intel 8008, a very early microprocessor. Each station in the restaurant had its own device which displayed the entire order for a customer—for example: Vanilla Shake, Large Fries, BigMac—using numeric keys and a button for every menu item. By pressing the button, a second or third order could be worked on while the first transaction was in progress. When the customer was ready to pay, the button would calculate the bill, including sales tax for almost any jurisdiction in the United States. This made it accurate for McDonald’s and very convenient for the servers and provided the restaurant owner with a check on the amount that should be in the cash drawers. Up to eight devices were connected to one of two interconnected computers so that printed reports, prices, and taxes could be handled from any desired device by putting it into Manager Mode. In addition to the error-correcting memory, accuracy was enhanced by having three copies of all important data with many numbers stored only as multiples of 3. Should one computer fail, the other could handle the entire store.
In 1986, Gene Mosher introduced the first graphical point of sale software under the ViewTouch trademark on the 16-bit Atari 520ST color computer. It featured a color touchscreen widget-driven interface that allowed configuration of widgets representing menu items without low level programming. The ViewTouch point of sale software was first demonstrated in public at Fall Comdex, 1986, in Las Vegas Nevada to large crowds visiting the Atari Computer booth. This was the first commercially available POS system with a widget-driven color graphic touch screen interface and was installed in several restaurants in the USA and Canada.
Modern software (post-1990s)
In 1992, Martin Goodwin and Bob Henry created the first point of sale software that could run on the Microsoft Windows platform named IT Retail. Since then a wide range of POS applications have been developed on platforms such as Windows and Unix. The availability of local processing power, local data storage, networking, and graphical user interface made it possible to develop flexible and highly functional POS systems. Cost of such systems has also declined, as all the components can now be purchased off-the-shelf.
The key requirements that must be met by modern POS systems include: high and consistent operating speed, reliability, ease of use, remote supportability, low cost, and rich functionality. Retailers can reasonably expect to acquire such systems (including hardware) for about $4000 US (as of 2009) per checkout lane.
Hardware interface standardization (post-1980s)
Vendors and retailers are working to standardize development of computerized POS systems and simplify interconnecting POS devices. Two such initiatives are OPOS and JavaPOS, both of which conform to the UnifiedPOS standard led by The National Retail Foundation.
OPOS (OLE for POS) was the first commonly adopted standard and was created by Microsoft, NCR Corporation, Epson and Fujitsu-ICL. OPOS is a COM-based interface compatible with all COM-enabled programming languages for Microsoft Windows. OPOS was first released in 1996. JavaPOS was developed by Sun Microsystems, IBM, and NCR Corporation in 1997 and first released in 1999. JavaPOS is for Java what OPOS is for Windows, and thus largely platform independent.
There are several communication ways POS systems use to control peripherals such as:
- Logic Controls
- Epson Esc/POS
- UTC Standard
- UTC Enhanced
- ICD 2002
- CD 5220
- ADM 787/788
There are also nearly as many proprietary protocols as there are companies making POS peripherals. Most POS peripherals, such as displays and printers, support several of these command protocols in order to work with many different brands of POS terminals and computers.
Cloud-based POS (post-2000s)
The advent of cloud computing had gave birth to the possibility of POS systems to be deployed as software as a service, which can be accessed directly from the Internet, using any internet browser. Using the previous advances in the communication protocols for POS’s control of hardware, cloud-based POS systems are independent from platform and operating system limitations. Cloud-based POS systems are also created to be compatible with a wide range of POS hardware and sometimes tablets such as Apple’s IPad. Thus cloud-based POS also helped expand POS systems to mobile devices, such as tablet computers or smartphones. These devices can also act as barcode reader using a built-in camera and as payment terminal using built-in NFC technology or an external payment card reader. Cybertill, which is based in the UK, claims to be the world’s first multichannel cloud-based POS system.
Cloud-based POS systems are different from traditional POS largely because user data, including sales and inventory, are not stored locally, but in a remote server. The POS system is also not run locally, so there is no installation required.
The advantages of a cloud-based POS are instant centralization of data (important especially to chain stores), ability to access data from anywhere there is internet connection, and lower start-up costs.
Although start-up cost is definitely attractive to end-users, it is still not clear given the subscription fee involved whether a cloud-based POS is more cost-effective in the mid and long term compared to on-premise type of POS system. Any cost-benefit analysis would have to take into account the advantage of continual update of software versions by the provider and the cost-saving in on-premise IT management.
Perhaps one critical concern to address is the disruptive effects of incidental loss of the Internet connection. For this reason it is imperative that a cloud-based POS system should be bundled with a local implementation of the software such that business processes – sales in particular – can continue with little disruption when there is a dropped connection. Furthermore, upon restoration of Internet connection it is also important that the local sale records can be subsequently and easily uploaded to the cloud database without messing up previous and subsequent sale records. Some cloud-based point of sale systems have an offline processing mode to handle these situations.
The retail industry is one of the predominant users of POS terminals.
- A woman stands behind a shopping cart at the checkout stand.
- A Syrian woman in Jordan is ready to pay for her groceries.
A retail point of sale system typically includes a cash register (which in recent times comprises 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. It can also include a conveyor belt, weight scale, integrated credit card processing system, a signature capture device and a customer pin pad device. While the system may include a keyboard and mouse, more and more POS monitors use touch-screen technology for ease of use, and a computer is built into the monitor chassis for what is referred to as an all-in-one unit. All-in-one POS units liberate counter space for the retailer. The POS system software can typically handle a myriad of customer based functions such as sales, returns, exchanges, layaways, gift cards, gift registries, customer loyalty programs, promotions, discounts and much more. POS software can also allow for functions such as pre-planned promotional sales, manufacturer coupon validation, foreign currency handling and multiple payment types.
The POS unit handles the sales to the consumer but it is only one part of the entire POS system used in a retail business. “Back-office” computers typically handle other functions of the POS system such as inventory control, purchasing, receiving and transferring of products to and from other locations. Other typical functions of a POS system are: store sales information for enabling customer returns, reporting purposes, sales trends and cost/price/profit analysis. Customer information may be stored for receivables management, marketing purposes and specific buying analysis. Many retail POS systems include an accounting interface that “feeds” sales and cost of goods information to independent accounting applications.
Retail operations such as Hardware stores (Lumber Yards), Electronic stores and so called multifaceted super-stores need specialized additional features compared to other stores. POS software in these cases handle special orders, purchase orders, repair orders, service and rental programs as well as typical point of sale functions. Rugged hardware is required for point of sale systems used in outdoor environments. Wireless devices, battery powered devices, all-in-one units, and Internet-ready machines are typical in this industry.
Recently new applications have been introduced, enabling POS transactions to be conducted using mobile phones and tablets. According to a recent study, Mobile POS (mPOS) terminals are expected to replace the contemporary payment techniques because of various features including mobility, upfront low cost investment and better user experience. Convenience of conducting remote financial transactions is expected to augment the demand from small and medium businesses for mPOS.
The blind community in the United States engaged in Structured Negotiations in the mid-2000s to ensure that retail point of sale devices had tactile keypads. Without keys that can be felt, a blind person cannot independently enter her or his PIN. In the mid-2000s retailers began using ‘flat screen’ or ‘signature capture’ devices that eliminated tactile keypads. Blind people were forced to share their confidential PIN with store clerks in order to use their debit and other PIN-based cards. The blind community reached agreement with Walmart, Target, CVS and eight other retailers that required real keys so blind people could use the devices.