What Is a POS System?

Ashley Taylor Anderson

What is a POS system?

If you run a business, you’ve probably seen the acronym POS peppered throughout a variety of industry articles. (You’ve probably seen it on social media and review forums, too, but it means something different there…) You may already know that POS stands for Point of Sale. But what the heck is POS? And what does a POS system do for your business?

If you’ve come looking for the answers to those questions, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll clearly define what a POS system is, how it works, and what you can do with point of sale software and hardware.

Let’s dive in!

Defining a POS System

A POS system is made up of the software and hardware you use to take payments from customers. Once upon a time, a POS system was just a mechanical cash register and receipt printer. Today, POS systems include software, a computer (or tablet), cash drawer, barcode scanner, receipt printer, and credit card swiper.

How do POS Systems work?

Your POS software provides the digital interface you use to ring up a transaction. Using this interface (usually on a computer or tablet), you indicate which services or products the customer wants to purchase. For physical items, you can also use a barcode scanner to add the item to an order, rather than looking it up using the interface.

Once you’re done adding items to the order, it’s time to take payment. First you select the payment type, then apply the payment method to the transaction. If this involves cash or check, your cash drawer will be triggered to open after you put in the amount paid. If this involves a membership or series payment, you’ll use the interface to apply the payment directly from that customer’s account. If this involves a gift card, debit, or credit payment, the customer will swipe the card using your swiper, and your credit card processor will process the payment before sending approval to your POS interface.

Once the payment has been accepted and any change given, your POS system will give you the option to print or email a receipt to the customer. The data from that transaction gets stored either locally (on your computer or tablet’s hard drive) or in the cloud (on an online server where you can retrieve the information when logged in from any device).

What can you do with a POS system?

Every POS system is different, but with most of the options out there today, you should be able to:

  • Process sales, returns, and exchanges.
  • Redeem loyalty reward points, memberships, and series payments.
  • Take cash, credit, debit, check, and gift certificate payments.
  • Apply discount codes and override prices.
  • Sell items in-store and from your website.

What other things can you do with POS software?

In addition to managing payments at the point of sale, many POS systems also provide additional functionality, such as:

  • Sales tracking and reporting.
  • Inventory tracking and reporting.
  • CRM (customer relationship management), including digital customer records, personalized receipts, and transactions stored by customer.
  • Payroll management.
  • Accounting system integration (QuickBooks).

With a more robust system, you’ll be able to do more than just take payments—you’ll have an easy way to see how much you’re selling, who’s selling what, and which customers are buying what types of services and retail items. This data can really help you hone your service menu, product inventory, and marketing offers to reflect the buying behaviors of your customers. 

The Bottom Line

If you want to sell stuff, you need a POS system. But not all POS systems are created equal. Do your homework and make sure to pick a system like Booker that can grow with your business and provide you with the data you need to make smart business decisions.

About the Author

Ashley Taylor Anderson

Ashley Taylor Anderson is a content developer and marketer who's spent her career knee-deep in the B2B technology space. In previous professional lives, she worked as a science textbook editor, media producer, and pastry chef.

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