When you go into a store to purchase items for your business, there's one thing you're sure to see -- the cash register. But the days when cash registers were little more than glorified adding machines are long gone. Modern cash registers do far more than just tell customers how much they've spent. Their money-storing focus may be the obvious part of their work, but cash registers perform other important functions that help stores stay in business.


Old-style cash registers -- the kind with pronged keys that would look more at home on a typewriter and merely add up a customer's purchases -- have all but disappeared. In addition to being lighter and sleeker, modern cash registers perform a wide variety of functions and calculations, from listing the name and price of all items purchased to processing coupons, calculating tax and discounts and determining exactly how much change a customer is owed. They eliminate the need for cashiers to do mathematical calculations, which can help a store keep workers focused on customer service and keeping checkout lines moving.

Customer Tracking

Many contemporary cash registers are equipped with a frequent customer swipe card or loyalty card that can provide businesses with essential information on what’s being bought and when -- supermarkets are a common example. Cash registers are the front-line reporters on what’s exiting the store, so managers need to be able to rely on them to track what they need to restock, what's popular on a given day or time period and which brands their shoppers prefer. Cash registers that operate in conjunction with customer loyalty cards have built-in computer systems that relay all of this information back to the store and management. This helps the store perform targeted advertising in the form of mailings, email and even pop-up savings directly at the register in the form checkout coupons.

More Than a Cash Repository

Cash registers have become mini-storage units, dispensing far more than just change. Moving items such as stamps and gift cards into the cash register drawers means a cashier doesn’t have to stop her duties to get these items from a customer service counter and can keep the checkout line moving along. This also provides convenience to customers, who can add items to their shopping lists without having to wait in another line to do so. Although what a cash register can store is limited to its size, as well as the shop’s personnel’s ability to stock and restock the drawers, making these items available is a convenience for customers and a way for the store to add to sales.

Sorting and Shuffling

Far more than just cash passes through as an exchange between buyer and cashier. Whether a store offers gift cards, old paper-style certificates, credit slips or a combination, these items all end up in the cashier’s drawer. A long day or heavy pre-holiday rush can result in a cash register that can barely close, without any cash inside at all. Papers such as credit card sign slips, refund authorizations and checks also take up room in the drawer, but many cash registers offer a way to quickly sort and shuffle these items. In some registers, the actual cash drawer is removable. Below, cashiers can organize their papers into different partitions, which can be a time saver at the end of a busy workday. Not only does the cash register help the cashier organize these items, but it keeps them secure and out of reach as well.