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A Cash Register or a POS System?

A Cash Register is an electronic piece of equipment that has the capability to record transactions, accumulate totals and give reports based on those transactions. Cash Registers use PLU’s to identify the different items stored and recalled from memory. Final reports are called Z reports because they bring the calculations to Zero ( reset totals to Zero) once they are run. A drawer to store money is part of the register and it is programmed to open when a transaction that requires change occurs.

PLU’s  “Product Look Up” is the number used to identify the product, for example a cup of coffee could be 1298 and a cappuccino could be 1299. Most stores use Scanners in order to identify the product, when the product has a bar-code assigned to it. A Scanner is an electronic device capable to read bar codes assigned to products.

New communication protocols allow registers to interface with other devices such as scales, credit cards, displays, printers and other systems in a network environment.

A POS or “Point of Sale” is a computer with the capability of running a program that allows the user to program a menu or items into a table or database, including prices, times, uses, etc. Items are easily input into the program through an interface (Windows, Linux, Unix, etc). Most POS are networked or interlaced between several stations that perform the same or different task. The PLU’s in the POS are invisible to the user because are blended in the program. It is significantly different with the Cash Register because there are no keys to program, no numbers to memorize and the interface is completely visual.

Most stations are called “Touch Screen Stations” because it allows the user to select the items by just touching a category that opens and display different items on the screen. Many “POS Programs” are interactive, in other word they interact with the end user asking questions in what to do next, example: if you touch Burgers it will show you different ones, then you select a Cheese Burger and the POS will ask you for the way you want it cook (Medium, Well done, etc) once you answer that question it may pop-up another one asking if you want mushrooms with it. As you can see POS Systems and the software (program) they are running are designed to facilitate the ordering process and interact in an intelligent way with the end user.

Reports in the POS are either printed or viewed in the screen and a good POS program includes many accounting and detailed reports that help the business owner determine the course of the business.

“POS Software” is usually license to the user and not sold, ownership of the programs will always remain in the hand of the developing company.

Excellent “POS programs” are the ones with a good track of satisfied customers, easy to use, with the most essential features, using a reputable DataBase for storing data, good support and service program, keep track of sales, labor, payroll and deliver reports and records that can be use in accounting, they also should have the capability to be access remotely by their home-office or by other authorized companies to troubleshoot and help with support.

Due to many advances in technology, POS systems are capable of controlling multiple devices such as printers, scanners, weight-scales, money drawers, coin dispensers, credit cards, customer’s displays, and many more.

 Please read "Best practices when purchasing a Point of Sale System for your Restaurant"