Hardware is the backbone of any POS system. A POS system needs multiple hardware components all working in sync if it’s going to do the job you want it to do. Even POS terminals, a mainstay of checkout points across retail and hospitality, are combinations of two or more different parts.
In this blog, we’ll introduce six essential elements of POS hardware found in most setups: a computer processing unit (CPU), touchscreen, card reader, barcode scanner, cash drawer, and printer.
In modern terms, it’s fair to say that there is no POS without a CPU. Ever since tills were computerized back in the 1980s and 90s, which opened the door to the sophisticated software-based systems we’re used today, every POS terminal has been built around a CPU.
You can think of the CPU as the brain of the system. It’s responsible for running the POS software which manages transactions, processing essential data, handling network connections and the transport of data to and from them, and making all the other hardware components work in sync.
Typically, every POS terminal will have its own CPU. This might be built into a combined unit that also includes a screen (see below). Or you can have a modular set-up with a distinct CPU unit.
To keep up with the demands of fast, efficient, reliable transaction processing at high volumes (and for long periods), POS CPUs are often high-spec multi-core chipsets, and are supported by a minimum of 4GB RAM and high-efficiency solid-state drive (SSD) storage.
Touchscreens provide a user-friendly interface that allows cashiers and staff to interact with the POS system easily and intuitively. The widespread use of touchscreens in POS hardware predates today’s familiar devices like smartphones and tablets, reaching back to the 1990s.
Touchscreens are a good fit for POS systems because, compared to traditional keyed cash registers, they make logging a transaction fast and accurate. For example, instead of having to key in a code and a price, touchscreen POS systems for the restaurant sector allow staff to simply touch the product being purchased on a menu.
As well as helping to make the checkout process faster and more efficient, the slim profile of modern touchscreens provides flexibility and can help to save space. Again, touchscreens can be combined with a CPU to provide an ‘all-in-one’ POS terminal, or they can be deployed as separate modules. This allows for different screen positioning options, such as wall mounting.
In the age of cashless transactions, a reliable card reader is an indispensable part of any modern POS system. These days, businesses need the ability to accept a variety of payment methods to ensure that they can cater to diverse customer preferences and maximise revenue opportunities. Contemporary card readers therefore combine multiple technologies, including magnetic stripe readers, chip card readers (EMV), and contactless/NFC readers.
Barcode scanners not only speed up checkout processes, but also help with more efficient inventory management. A staple of retail POS systems, barcode scanners read product information encoded in barcodes printed on items, allowing for quick and accurate identification. As well as helping to make checkout more efficient, barcode scanners reduce inputting errors, contributing to higher customer satisfaction and more accurate record keeping.
Despite the rise of digital payments, cash transactions still play a significant role and should be available as one of the range of payment options customers can choose from. A cash drawer is therefore an essential component of a POS system, providing a secure and organized place to store cash, coins, and receipts. Modern cash drawers often feature features like automatic opening, lockable compartments, and integration with POS software for accurate cash tracking.
Finally, while the trend is again heading towards digital receipts, many customers still expect the option of paper receipts printed out at the point of sale. Purpose-built POS printers are compact, reliable and plug directly into your system, automatically printing receipts on completion of transactions for the customer’s convenience.
In summary, from the processing unit to the printer, each piece of POS hardware plays an important role in the overall point of sale experience. Get in touch with Oxhoo today to learn more about matching POS hardware with your operational requirements.