If you were looking to name the single most important system in a retail environment, the one up front, the point-of-sale (POS) system, would be a good candidate. If you take the software component out of the discussion, the argument for the critical value of the POS system gets even stronger. No longer content to simply ring up sales and house a cash drawer, POS hardware now has to interact with customers (sometimes to the point of allowing customers to ring up their own sales) and act as billboards. And todays POS hardware has to be tougher to stand up to the rigors of the retail environment while still offering state-of-the-art technology. The 2001 U.S. market for retail automation/point-of-sale (POS) equipment generated over $2.4 billion in supplier revenue. The largest percentage of revenues, nearly 44%, was derived from POS terminal/workstation hardware shipments. Standalone POS terminals comprise approximately 17% of the market, while POS receipt printers netted nearly 10% of revenues. Point of Sale (POS) is a broad term. Point of Sale encompasses many areas and many formats but to simply define POS would be, A particular location where a merchandise or service transaction takes place. The most familiar venue for this is the traditional POS terminal or cash register station that is found in any department store, specialty retail, category killer, wholesaler, wholesale club, grocery, or hospitality venue; but POS hardware is not limited to that format any more. Using other technologies, like wireless LANs, wireless mobile terminals and portable printers, POS transactions can take place almost anywhere increasing the selling area and adding convenience to the customer.
A traditional Point of Sale System can consist of the following components:
Magnetic Stripe Reader