There are few things as important in a restaurant or retail store as the cash register. In years past, it was a simple machine that was able to ring up transactions. Today, most cash register systems have evolved into platforms that allow you to manage staff, keep track of inventory, and get a clear picture of profit and loss. Needless to say, small business cash registers are essential. When choosing a POS cash register, what should you look for and what benefits can you gain? How do they work and what makes one better than the other?
This article explores cash registers for small businesses and will help you understand what you’re looking for in a good register.
What is a cash register system?
A few years ago, a small business cash register was simply a machine to ring up customers and securely store cash. Now, it’s a point-of-sale system (known as a POS cash register) that is made up of many pieces. It’s usually comprised of a computer monitor, cash register drawer, receipt printer, barcode scanner, debit/credit card reader, and a customer-facing display.
Advanced systems go a step further and include mobile POS. It allows you or your staff to meet customers while they’re shopping or dining and create a better experience. They also have inventory management, support for multiple users, real-time sales analytics, front and back-of-house management, and much more. This article will look closely at key features in another section.
Recommended cash register systems
These are some of the most recommended cash register systems on the market:
How does a POS cash register work?
Modern cash registers tend to be comprised of two major components. The first component is the hardware while the second is the software. They work together to help your business run smoothly.
The software will depend on the POS provider you choose and will come with a unique feature set. For example, Lightspeed’s software is ideal for generating reports that’ll help you spot areas of improvement and manage inventory. Hardware components are more recognizable to the casual observer. They include items like the cash drawer, receipt printer, barcode scanner, and more. Most POS cash register providers also sell the hardware that’ll work with the POS software.
There are other considerations beyond the hardware and software you select. It’s important to decide between on-premise cash register systems and cloud-based POS cash register systems.
On-premise VS cloud-based cash registers
Of course, the hardware components will be installed in your store. The software is different. You can choose software that’s cloud-based and accessible from any device at all times. You also have the option to install the software on your retail cash register which limits access to devices you’ve stipulated. Each selection comes with pros and cons.
On-premise small business cash register
On-premise cash registers are what many people think of when they’re considering a cash register. They remain the most popular option. It works with an internal network of servers to store and retrieve data. It’s similar to how you install programs on your computer and access them from your local hard drive. These systems are a great choice because they work quickly and aren’t dependent on an internet connection. You can safely store personnel, staff, and customer information while reducing security vulnerabilities. The major downside is that you’re in charge of maintaining and upgrading the system yourself which may require a specialist. Another drawback is you’ll be unable to access your data when not directly in front of your retail cash register.
Cloud-based cash register system
A cash register drawer controlled by cloud-based software is still relatively new. It allows small businesses to leverage cloud technology to access the platform whenever and wherever they choose. All that’s needed is an internet connection. A growing group of retail and restaurant cash registers is cloud-based.
There are many advantages of a cloud-based cash register. One of the most noticeable is the way updates are handled. You’re no longer responsible for maintaining and upgrading the system yourself. That’s handled by the vendor so you always have the latest and most secure version.
The drawback is that you need to have a steady and relatively fast internet connection. If your internet goes down then you may not be able to process transactions from customers. Many cloud-based solutions have realized this drawback and are implementing solutions that also work offline. Finally, cloud-based systems are usually slower than on-premise cash registers.
Benefits of cash register systems
There are numerous benefits of POS cash registers. This section will cover a few of the most important ones. This isn’t a comprehensive list and you may experience a lot more benefits while using one.
More payment options
There are hundreds of alternative payment methods on the market today. Notable ones include Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Amazon pay. You also have Samsung Pay, contactless cards, and cryptocurrencies. POS cash drawers are able to handle many of those payment types which may increase willingness to pay.
Touch screen cash registers show the major options on the screen and allow employees and cashiers to quickly find what they’re looking for. It reduces (or eliminates) manual keying and errors. Also, systems are synced together so there’s no need to manually transfer information from one place to another.
One of the major benefits is the detailed reports that allow you to compare multiple aspects of your business. For example, you can look at profit and loss statements, the efficiency of staff members, revenue generated vs staff scheduled, and much more. Together, the separate and aggregate reports from your cash register give you a clear picture of how different parts of your business are working together. Use that information to make informed decisions and investments.
Integrations with other tools
No business exists in a bubble. Your POS cash drawer is important but isn’t the only tool you use. An important benefit is a seamless integration with other tools that increases efficiency across your entire operation.
Major Features & Functionality
The market is huge and new players are springing up every day. Any cash register machine you’re looking at should have the following features. Once these check out, you can look for features peculiar to your business.
The ability to track stock, understand how quickly (or slowly) it’s moving, make orders, tag suppliers, and understand COGS (cost of goods sold) isn’t nice to have. It’s essential. The best cash registers for small business operations come with these features right out of the gate. When choosing a solution, be sure to make inventory management a priority.
Staff management can be a challenge – especially when you’re using multiple software solutions. The right cash register will allow you to track, schedule, and process payroll for employees. You should also be able to set permissions, and access levels, see who’s using the cash drawer, and more.
Customer relationship management
This is an important but often overlooked part of retail cash registers because users tend to focus on completing the transaction. This feature is important because it allows you to communicate with past customers who are more likely to buy from you again.
Analytics make businesses successful. Without it, you’re flying blind. With it, you’re able to consistently make better decisions. Analytics isn’t just about how much money you make in a day. It should break down when you made money, your best sales reps, how specific products are contributing to your bottom line, and more.
A small business cash register is an important tool in any store. It’s how you process transactions and keep a clear record. They’re no longer simple systems for collecting payments. Now, they have the ability to form the core of your employee, inventory, and cash management operations.
The right POS cash drawer will set you up for success while the wrong one will inhibit you. Keep in mind the key points mentioned throughout this article and if you’re looking for a cash register that’ll help you grow your business and is easy to get started with then check out our guides and reviews.