What is a POS system, and How does it work?

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What is a POS system?

What’s a Point-of-Sale system? A point-of-sale system is a system where you process customer orders and payments and manage your business’s operations. At its simplest, point-of-sale systems allow you to process and receive payments from customers, and manage the tables in your restaurant.

When customers check out online or in your restaurant, they’re at the point of sale. Your point-of-sale system is the hardware and software that helps your business make those sales.

How does a POS system work?

A point-of-sale system allows you to take orders, accept customer payments, track tables, keep inventory, and maintain communication with the front-of-house and back-of-house staff. It may look complicated, but what you use your point-of-sale system for depends on your set-up and whether you sell online, have a physical front, or both.

What does a point-of-sale system do? Usually, it works like this:

  1. The customer decides to make a purchase. If they are in your restaurant, they may call the server to clear out their cheque; if you have a physical front, they may ask a salesperson to ring them up. If you have an online front, this step comes when a customer decides to check out after adding items to their cart.

  2. Your point-of-sale calculates the price of the item(s), including any sales tax and discounts. Then, the system updates the inventory count to reflect that the item has been sold.

  3. Your customer pays. To complete the transaction, your customer will use their credit card, debit card, cash, or bank transfer to make the payment.

  4. The point-of-sale transaction is complete. This is the moment when the transaction is recorded. The digital or printed receipt is created, and you deliver or close out the customer’s check.

What POS software features do you need?

Every POS system uses point-of-sale software, but not all businesses need point-of-sale hardware. If you run an online business, you typically only need POS software and not hardware. If you run a physical front, you could install the point-of-sale software on your computer or a pre-existing device to process orders. In addition, you may also need a printer to print receipts.

What can you do with a POS system?

Your point-of-sale system is the command centre of your business. At a simple level, your POS allows you to find items in your catalogue and process sales. More additions to the point-of-sale system can help you manage your inventory, floor plan, customer service and feature advanced reporting.

Some POS systems, like Mira, include all the features mentioned above. For other POS systems, you may have to integrate external solutions to have a full suite of features.

What can you do with a POS system:

  • Process payments: Payments processing is one of the main features of a POS system. Your point-of-sale processes payment every time a customer makes a sale. There are a number of different payment types a point-of-sale system might accept;

    • Debit/Credit Card

    • Bank Transfer

    • Cash.

  • Inventory management software: IMS helps you record of all your products. Automated inventory management software can connect with your sales and lets you know when an item is running low.

  • Reporting: Reports give you data on how you’re selling and what sells out best, allowing you to plan your catalogue and make better business decisions.

  • Receipts: Receipts help you keep track of your sales and make processing refunds easier, as there is a paper/digital trail of the item.

  • Tipping: For restaurants, tips are a way for customers to appreciate service. POS systems that allow customers to leave a digital tip during the checkout process make it likelier that they will tip.