How to Set Up a Point of Sale Network

A point of sale (POS) system--the computer-based system or network that processes transactions when a customer checks out--is a critical piece of equipment for success in retail sales. Network-based POS systems seem intimidating at first, but, as exemplified by the Plexis POS system, the system setup is surprisingly easy.

Install the Point of Sale server software on the POS server. Following the vendor's instructions, install the POS software on the machine configured to act as the POS system server. During the initial install, the POS system will need to create and configure various databases, including price and product tables. The installation process may take 30 minutes, an hour or longer.

Connect the POS workstations to the POS server. Using standard network designs--which usually involves connecting computers over Internet Protocol through a router, switch or hub--connect the POS workstations and the POS server to a local area network (LAN).

If necessary, map the server as a network drive on the POS workstations. If the POS software is server-based and must be executed from the host or server, map the server as a network drive on the workstation computers. On the workstation desktop, right click on the "My computer" icon, select "Map network drive," then supply the IP or network address of the POS server. If you have configured the server to require log-in credentials, enter the user name and password required to connect to the server.

Install the Point of Sale software on the POS workstations. If the POS software must be executed on each individual workstation, install the software on the workstation computers following the software vendor's installation instructions. If the software is executed from the server, you may be able to skip this step.

Connect POS workstation peripherals. If the POS workstations will be equipped with credit card readers, printers, bar code readers or other peripherals, connect them to the workstations using the supplied cables. In most cases, the cables are "keyed" so they can only be inserted into the correct port; nonetheless, you may wish to complete a test credit card transaction and print a test page to verify that the peripherals have been properly initiated.

Load the database tables. With the POS workstations and server operational, begin filling the POS database with items from your inventory. Because each POS software package is different, follow the vendor's instructions for loading the database. With the database loaded and all workstations successfully running the POS software, the Point of Sale network is complete.

Tips

  • Some POS networks use credit card terminals instead of computers; if your POS network uses terminals only, consult your terminal user guide for networking instructions.

Warnings

  • Always verify that your POS network is fully operational by completing a few sample transactions; a faulty POS network in a production environment can lose sales and even turn away customers. Be certain that all applicable security measures are in place on the POS server; since customer financial data is stored on this machine, it must be kept safe from unauthorized access.

About the Author

Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.