Point of Sale System (POS) Basics

This article is a summary of the Point of Sale System particularly its software and hardware components.

If you are considering obtaining point of sale equipment for your business, one important thing to know is that it would be beneficial and helpful to get your POS hardware and software from the same dealer to avoid compatibility issues. Another thing you have to ensure is that you choose the POS software that is most useful for your business before you settle on a point of sale hardware. There are point of sales systems that specialize on various industries such as retail, hospitality, restaurant, hair and beauty or hardware stores and lumber yards, for example.


Most POS providers may prefer that you use their own computer systems. Since they are familiar with the setup and ongoing support of their own point of sale equipment, it will be easier and much quicker for them to work with these. You may incur additional fees if you choose your own since this may include an added level of confusion at some point in the maintenance and troubleshooting process.

However, if buying the computer separately is something that you really wish to do, make sure that you coordinate with your POS vendor so they can provide you with the exact specifications and follow these in order to avoid compatibility issues for the most part.

Since POS software is not demanding, you can make do with average to low-end computers since these are sufficient to run a POS terminal. However, keep in mind that the computer needs to be upgradeable. In fact, some POS software requires the Windows operating system to run.


The importance of a reliable power source for point of sales systems cannot be stated enough. If your business will require setting up multiple POS terminals, these will be networked in the same way that computer systems in office settings are. What most people do not know is that fluctuations in the power source are one of the biggest causes of POS systems problems. You should ask your vendor to assess the power situation in your place of business so they can suggest and/or provide appropriate safeguards.

Other Peripherals

There are a number of additional types of POS equipment that may be needed:

  • Input Devices – You may choose from a variety of input devices to accurately input information into the POS system so you can prevent errors. Aside from the usual keyboards there are touch screens (commonly used for restaurants), scanners or handheld terminals (mobile POS).
  • Printers – These will be used for printing out credit card slips or receipts for customers. You may choose between dot matrix and thermal printers.
  • Cash Drawers – Make sure you choose cash drawers that are sturdy; a good benchmark minimum would be eighteen gauge steel.
  • Magnetic Stripe Readers – While the POS software itself handles credit card processing, you will need a magnetic stripe reader to read the credit card itself.


Make a list of all the things you will need your POS software to be able to do so that when you talk to your POS vendor, he or she will be able to determine which one will best suit your business requirements. Keep in mind that while the fundamental functionality of point of sale software doesn’t differ much from one package to the other, it can become more complicated and costly as you add more features.