Point of Sale Equipment: Keyboards and touch screens
One of the first choices you will have to make about your POS equipment is whether to go with a touch screen or a programmable keyboard. Most businesses choose touch screens. The only market where keyboards are mostly used is grocery stores, since it has the ability to program individual keys for specific item codes and prices.
Touch screens are more intuitive to use than keyboards for many users. They also provide more flexibility in the user interface and programming. Most touch screens sold these days are based on flat-screen LCDs unlike the traditional CRT monitors. While LCD touch screens are slightly more expensive (typically $600 - $1,000 instead of $400 - $500), they are sturdier, uses less electricity, and saves up space. They also look much better. With both CRT and LCD displays, avoid "overlay" touch screens that are added on to regular monitors - they are more prone to breakdowns and add an unnecessary complication to your system.
When it comes to keyboards, some has the standard 101-keys model similar to any computer. Others are smaller, more POS-specific devices, such as the flat-panel membrane keyboards you often see on fast food chains. Often, POS keyboards come with built-in magnetic stripe readers for processing debit cards. Most programmable keyboards usually go for between $150 and $300.
No matter which POS equipment you use, make sure you consider the environment where it will be used. Both keyboards and touch screens are available with varying levels of spill and dust-proofing.
Point of Sale Equipment: POS Scanners
POS scanners reads an item's barcode and sends the information back to the computer. They typically connect to the system through Y-connectors called wedges that make them function as an extension of the keyboard. It can improve the speed of transaction as well as accurately stores information.
Low quality scanners are based on charge-coupled device (CCD) technology. These scanners are inexpensive, but usually have a very short range - an item being scanned needs to be 1 to 3 inches from the scanner. In a typical retail setting, that should be fine.
When it comes to laser scanners, they offer better scanning with the ability to scan a bar code at long ranges. Some laser scanners are "autosensing,"
Properlu use different types of scanners to serve customers. If the counter line has only one or a couple of customers, the CCDs or entry-level laser scanners should be able to do the job. A fairly constant flow of customers might call for an autosensing model, and very high volume businesses should investigate omnidirectional or embedded scanners. Prices range from below $100 for the most basic CCD scanners to $350 or more for omnidirectional laser scanners.
Point of Sale Equipment: Handheld POS terminal
The latest type of input device is the handheld, wireless terminal. Essentially a PDA, which wirelessly transmits orders back to a base station. A great advantage this POS equipment can provide to a restaurant is that they increase the amount of time servers spend on taking orders on the floor and interacting with customers, because it eliminates the need to go back to a terminal to process orders.
Newer still are write-on handhelds: instead of trying to fit a touch-screen interface onto a tiny PDA screen, these devices allow servers to simply write the orders down. Handwriting recognition software parses the order then sends it directly on to the kitchen and bar as needed.
These handheld terminals are more expensive compared to a traditional touch-screen order terminal. However they can make up for the cost by allowing your servers to spend more time upselling customers with more desserts and drinks. If you are evaluating handheld terminals, make sure you ask about the "drop test" - units are rated for toughness according to how much of a fall they can survive. To find out if your business is a candidate for handheld POS terminals, compare multiple POS equipment vendors to learn what products and services they offer.
For more information on restaurant POS equipment or to have a local POS professional serving the restaurant industry, you may visit http://pos-for-
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