Building Your Own Point Of Sale System
You do not have to spend $5,000 to $10,000 on a POS system. If you have average Windows skills you can do it yourself!
Putting together a point of sale system is much easier than you think and it can save you a small fortune. We routinely get calls from retailers who have been quoted large sums for one standalone point of sale system, but most people who own a home computer already have the skills needed to set up a system, or have a friend who can help.
A POS system is basically a Windows computer with some simple devices connected to it like a slip printer, a bar code scanner and a cash drawer etc. These devices all connect to a plain, off-the-shelf Windows PC. The manner in which they connect is not any more complicated than other PC hardware. The classic starter kit looks like this:
Any Windows computer ($500 to $800).
A receipt printer - Star and Epson are popular brands ($200 to $250). This is not necessary if you only want to print invoices and statements - those will print on an ordinary printer (see next item).
An inkjet or laser printer to for invoices, statements, reports, price tags and bar code labels ($100 to $200).
An automatic cash drawer ($100 to $150).
A barcode scanner ($100 for a basic model, up to $200 for a laser scanner. This connects to a USB port with no other system setups required in Retail Plus.
When you are ready for some more advanced functions you can add:
A Logic Controls PD3000 Serial or LD9000 USB pole display ($250).
On-screen credit card and gift card processing.
A high-volume barcode printer $300).
A portable stock counter or data terminal ($400). This makes stock taking faster and easier, especially if it is all bar coded. It also makes it fast and easy to reconcile the stock counts with the inventory records.
QuickBooks Pro or Premier accounting software to manage the cash flow.
As you can see it is possible to create a professional POS system for as little as $1200 including the software! All you really need is some information about what to buy and where to find it. The following list will give you an idea of how easy that is.
The Minimum System Requirements
Any computer that runs Windows XP or later will work with Retail Plus. If you have more than 5000 SKUs in your inventory then you will want a faster computer i.e. anything built within the last 2 years with 4 Gigabyte of RAM.
Optional Hardware And Software Add-Ons
POS Receipt Printer - this is a must in stores where customers expect a standard retail sales receipt. The most popular brands are Citizen, Star Micronics and Epson. All receipt printers now have a cash drawer connector on the back though you have to make sure you get the right cable. The new Citizen CTS310II (pictured) is fast, quiet, has a built-in power supply (no extra transformers) has both USB and serial interfaces and, unlike Epson, includes the driver software in the box.
The important choice is between printing mechanisms (dot matrix with ribbon, inkjet or heat transfer). Dot matrix printers can use two-part tape so you get two copies in one pass. Inkjet and heat transfer printers are faster and quieter but can be more expensive. The nice thing about heat transfer printers is that there is no ribbon or cartridge to replace - just pop in the heat sensitive tape and go. Please note that graphics printing is not directly supported in Retail Plus, but can often be set up through the print driver.
A Greener POS Printer - the SNBC RTP-R990. Do you want your customers to know you are doing your part for the environment? This hot new printer is not only Energy Star compliant but it prints on both sides of the tape. That uses up to 45% less paper, and it prints by thermal transfer so no cartridges ever!
Touch Screen Monitor - A touch screen monitor can really speed up a busy checkout lane. You can use any touch screen monitor you wish just as long as it has a resolution greater than 600 X 800. Pictured here is the Planar PT1510MX.
Automatic Cash Drawer - any type will work but the simpler the better. Most drawers connect to the back of a receipt printer. Make sure you get the right cable for your printer model. If you need a source for drawers try APG Cash Drawer.
Barcode Scanner - Retail Plus will let you scan at any point where a stock code is wanted. Once again, any type of scanner will work but the simpler the better. Ask your computer dealer for a USB scanner.
Hardware Bundles - Some POS hardware vendors offer bundled packages usually consisting of a receipt printer, barcode scanner and cash drawer. An example can be found at Extreme Barcode. For a live quote call them at 1-866-398-7227.
Barcode Printer - With Retail Plus you can use any printer to print barcodes on standard Avery label sizes. For those who need to print large numbers of barcode labels every day we support the popular Zebra and Wasp label printers.
QuickBooks Accounting Software (Pro and Premier) - Retail Plus includes links to this popular accounting package using Intuit's QB-XML data sharing standard. It allows you to transfer open invoices from Retail Plus to QuickBooks and make payments on them from the POS screen. You can post your POS revenues directly to your accounts and share both client and inventory info as well.
X-Charge Credit Card Processing - Retail Plus supports this popular payment gateway. It processes credit or debit card transactions very quickly and offers the retailer an easy way to implement a gift card program. Services are available in the USA and Canada only. Learn more at (click for more info).
Internet Hookup - If you have more than one store and the office is located across town (or across the ocean) you can use the internet to make stock levels, sales reports and inventory changes available to your organization. The internet is also a great way to do credit, debit and gift card approvals.
Pole Display - This device will show your customers what item is being checked out, the total due and the change owing. Between sales it will display a scrolling sales or greeting message of your own design. Retail Plus supports the Logic Controls PD-3000 serial port pole display and the Logic Controls LD9000 USB display. These are good choices for price and reliability. Logic Controls, of New Hyde Park New York, can be reached at (516)248-0400. To see the PD3000 visit their web site.
Direct Connect Scales - If your weighing is done at the checkout counter you will want one of these. The Mettler-Toledo Viva or Xpress XRV are good choices for quality and affordability. They handle up to 30 pounds or 14 kilos and come in both counter top and in-counter models. Be sure to order the serial cable that goes with it. It uses a DB9 "null modem" serial cable and these are not usually found in regular computer shops.
Barcode Scales - If your weighing is done away from the checkout counter then you can use any scale that prints standard Random Weight Barcode labels. The label tells Retail Plus what it is and how much there is. The systems then adjusts inventory and calculates the price.
Portable Stock Counter - You will want one of these if you have a large amount of barcoded stock that needs frequent counting. To do a fast inventory just walk along the shelves reading a barcode from each item and punch in the shelf count. When you are done transfer the information to your computer where Retail Plus can read it. You can now view a table that shows where the shelf count does not agree with the computer data. A good choice is the Mertrologic ScanPal available from Extreme Barcode. Their phone number is 1-866-398-7227.
DBF Manager -
POS Integrated Computers - Retail Plus will run on any Windows-based POS integrated hardware, sometimes called a POS deck. It takes a little more technical knowhow to configure it but this is a great way for computer shops to expand into the EPOS market!