Cash registers are a piece of technology that’s well over a century old. Back when the only payment options were cash or checks, the register let a cashier type in the cost of each item, add tax, total everything up, tell the cashier how much change to hand out, and then put away the customer’s payment in a built-in lockbox. These devices would even type out a receipt as the cashier punched in the numbers.
When credit cards came around, cashiers needed a new device to record the card number. Everything became faster when bar-code readers and cards with magnetic strips came around, but after that the system stayed basically the same for several decades.
However, today the paradigm is shifting once again. Mobile technology allows businesses to get more features out of a single device, and these devices are becoming much smaller (aside from the cashboxes). Not only can a single device accept cash, checks, credit cards, and mobile wallet payments, they can also perform a few new functions you’d normally need a separate computer and software to handle.
• Returns. Returning products is normally a hassle for both the customer and the cashier, and large stores usually have customers who want to return things go to a customer service counter. However, today’s point-of-sale devices come with software that makes returning items and refunds much simpler even for small businesses.
• Analytics. A modern point-of-sale device can collect data like when customers show up, what they buy, and how they pay. You no longer need to count receipts, check inventory every night, or sort the information you get manually. These modern systems can tell you everything important automatically.
• Inventory. While you should still perform an inventory check regularly, a point-of-sale device can automatically deduct sold goods from your stock list so you can know what to order and what you have enough of right when you contact your suppliers.
• Accounting. The point-of-sale device collects plenty of information about your profits, so by adding a way to keep track of your business costs and other income sources the device can easily become your main accounting computer.
Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are already all-in-one devices, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that today’s point-of-sale devices are becoming something similar by adapting tablets for business use and adding the right accessories. Thanks to that, what used to be a simple calculation machine is now capable of far more.