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POS System Hardware: Printers, Cash Drawers and Card Readers

Point of Sale Systems Buyers' Guide

There are other peripheral items of point of sale system hardware that may or may not suit your business. If you're undecided, check with you supplier whether you can add such items at a later date without disrupting your system.

ID Access to POS Terminals
For security, there are three ways of restricting POS system terminals to certain staff:

  • hand out magnetic strip cards
  • issue PIN numbers
  • use biometric fingerprint ID technology

These three methods give staff access to the terminals and let the computer know who has logged on. But staff can misuse swipe cards and PIN numbers - or lose and forget them. Biometric fingerprint ID is far more reliable and is increasingly popular.

Customer Display
These are simple POS LCD computer flat panel screens that display to the customer the name and price of each item as the checkout operator scans it. The screen may also show the running total of purchases. When the scanner is not in use, you can advertise products on it.

Cash Drawers
This is the drawer in which a checkout operator keeps cash, cheques, vouchers and receipts from exchanged items. Ensure the drawer is at least 18 gauge steel and has a secure lock. The receipt printer automatically tells the drawer to open; the printer, drawer and software must therefore be compatible.

Also check that the EPOS system supplier can replace or repair the cash drawer quickly in the event of failure.

Point of Sale Printers
You must have a point of sale printer to create receipts. Some EPOS systems also print out kitchen and bar orders; bar code labels; and sales reports.

Receipt printers are either dot matrix or thermal. There are advantages and drawbacks to both. Dot matrix printers are:

  • cheaper
  • more resistant to fluctuations in temperature
  • able to use ordinary EPOS paper rolls

Thermal printers are:

  • more expensive to buy
  • quieter and quicker
  • less likely to break down

The heat-sensitive paper required for thermal printers is costlier than the standard paper used in dot matrix machines. On the other hand, you need to buy ribbons for dot matrix printers. Over a long period of use, the initial and ongoing costs of each type of printer roughly come out as equal.

Chip and PIN Machine
Chip and PIN machines have now replaced magnetic strip readers for credit and debit cards. Your POS system supplier will integrate the necessary hardware and software, and advise you about the necessary electronic link to the banking system.

Magnetic Strip Readers
Magnetic strip readers are still necessary for loyalty, discount, bonus and gift cards. If you intend to use any of these cards - or already have a system in place - make sure your POS system supplier is aware of them.

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