Point of sale

What is a point of sale?

A point of sale is a location where a retail transaction takes place, such as a cash register or credit card terminal. It is sometimes abbreviated in business literature as POS.

Deeper definition

Point-of-sale systems can be very complex. In supermarkets or other larger retailers, they might include scanners that identify products via bar code and retrieve the prices from a centralized database that also manages inventory.

They include the display that details prices and the system that prints or emails a physical receipt. They also may include scanners that detect when a shopper has placed his or her item in a bag during self-checkout, along with the physical cash register and the credit card swiping device.

Point-of-sale example

Point-of-sale systems can be found in clothing stores, service businesses like beauty salons, restaurants and hotels. Point-of-sale systems usually are configured to suit the needs of the industry.

A hospitality and restaurant point of sale might include ways to order entrees from a kitchen and track reservations.

Retail systems might be configured to aid in inventory management, handle returns, and to track sales commissions. Hardware may include touch-screen displays, scales to measure items sold by weight and barcode scanners.

Some point-of-sale systems rely on small credit card readers attached to smartphones and tablets for use in mobile payments.

Point-of-sale systems allow businesses to monitor employees, track inventory and analyze consumer behavior.

For example, some POS systems can remember what a customer has purchased in the past and offer coupons based on predefined shopping behavior for subsequent visits.

They also may be able to monitor existing stock and alert management when running low on popular items. POS systems also aid in accounting functions by letting bookkeepers run reports and streamline repetitive tasks.

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