A point of sale (POS) system is the lifeblood of any retail establishment -- the place where a retailer collects the money from a customer. However, POS systems have much more complex functions than simply recording a sale.


A modern POS system can process and record credit card transactions, keep sales records, do cost analysis and track of inventory. A POS system can help with marketing by keeping a customer information database including purchases, birth dates and other significant information, and can also handle loyalty coupons and discounts. Advanced systems offer many other features.


A POS system includes at least one computer and monitor, along with a keyboard and/or bar code reader, credit card reader, printer and the associated software. If a company has technical expertise they can buy individual components and configure them, but many companies buy all the equipment and software from one vendor so they have technical support. Choose a quality vendor who can recommend the best POS system for the volume of business and provide immediate support for any problems as they occur.


A basic POS system for a small, one location business costs between $800 and $1,500 (as of 2010). Systems can cost more than $30,000 for a multistation, complex reporting system. There are a number of industry-specific systems tailored to businesses such as day care, hair salons, dry cleaners and auto shops.