What is POS
POS stands for “Point of Sale” and is the place where a retail transaction happens i.e. a customer is billed and completes their payment.
A POS transaction can be anything from a manual physical process to a completely electronic one. Most often POS is used in reference to the hardware and software utilised as the transaction is made.
Point of sale software is the application or applications used on the devices or computer network where transactions are managed. POS software manages anything from stock levels, pricing and discounts through to payment processing, reconciliation and accounting.
POS software is in essence retail management software.
A point of sale system refers to both the software and hardware combined where transactions, stock, payment processing, reconciliation and all related payment and retailing activities are processed and recorded.
The first POS systems were cash registers in the 1970’s which developed into windows enabled platforms in the 1990’s. Today’s internet enabled or networked POS systems are referred to as EPOS – Electronic Point of Sale Systems.
For a restaurant or bar a POS system will most importantly process credit and debit card payments. However, they are also vital today for inventory, receipt management, analysing customer behaviour, sales data, and managing employees.
The best POS systems on the market, or the most advanced, can use handheld devices, or even smartphones to receive orders which can be sent directly to the kitchen. Some pizza restaurants have even toyed with the idea of interactive pizza planning tables. Networked to a POS they make taking orders a breeze.
A POS system can usually be controlled via a hosting PC or an online application where all functions, financing and management take place.
For any POS system having effective security and backup for the POS system and any hosting devices is vital. Even a minor virus or hack could lose information or expose customer payment card information.
What are the Benefits of POS Software and Systems for Restaurants?
POS systems simplify and integrate many restaurant functions. Payments can be taken, processed and reconciled into accounting systems quickly. Inventory can be managed electronically ensuring adequate stock levels at all times.
For a restaurant owner analysing the performance of dishes and staff is simplified. Accounting and banking is fast and secure. Payroll is also improved.
A POS system can not only reconcile daily bookkeeping, it can organise profit and loss, and tax and VAT information. Some POS systems will have more advanced financial functions but most will integrate with any accounting or bookkeeping software in use.
Sales Records and Reconciliations
As you know, a restaurant processes a large number of, often small, transactions both in cash and credit card payments. POS software tracks every cent safely. It also removes hours of daily banking and reconciliation.
Card Processing and Security
An integrated POS system negates the need for separate card processing devices. Payment taking and recording is easier and more secure for patrons and proprietors. Bills cannot be unduly edited preventing theft or fraud.
Preparation of Financial Data
Hours of time and effort are saved by having a POS system which can easily export sales and financial information or integrate with an accounting module or application. Statements, profit and loss accounts, and tax and VAT information are far easier to manage.
Management of Staff
POS systems can function like a time clock, or clocking in and out device, recording hours worked, breaks, and time off, to facilitate payroll and employee and rota management. Worker shifts can be micro managed, their performance tracked, and even rates and tips received and allocated effectively.
Inventory and sales trends can be managed onsite quickly by managers and kitchens or even off site by management who can react quickly to issues and opportunities as they arise. Most POS systems will have a web based console accessible anywhere with an internet connection.
Better Customer Service
Customer service can be improved by complete up to date availability of menu items, fast order processing and efficient payment receipt.
What will a POS System Cost my Restaurant?
POS systems and software vary greatly in cost and will depend on the functionality required and the size of the business.
The number of hardware units needs to be considered such as hand held devices, receipt printers, touchscreen monitors, and payment processing devices. Plus, the PC’s and devices which will manage the data received for kitchens and management alike.
For any kind of functionality and integration, with a mix of hardware and software, prices are likely to start from around $1000 CAD. The most important thing is to research features and suppliers then start to compare hardware, software and any associated monthly costs.
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