Does a pandemic sounds like a good time to start a business? A crazy as it may seem, there are millions of Americans who are venturing out on their own in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that applications for new businesses are rising at their fastest rate since 2007. The reason? It’s apparently a mix of necessity and opportunity.

According to the article, many of these entrepreneurs are using their personal savings or home equity to forge new lives. And they’re not all digital businesses — several are brick-and-mortar ventures such as coffeeshops, book stores and bakeries.

If you’re among this group, you’ll inevitably have questions about taking payments at a point of sale terminal. You may be wondering: How do I accept credit card payments at my new business? How do I keep track of what’s been sold? What hardware will I need to buy?

Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered with this primer on what a typical point of sale system includes.

Hardware often includes the following:

Register/Terminal
The register or terminal is the piece of equipment that you will enter an order into. It typically includes some sort of a screen where you can touch buttons and ring up a sale. In some modern POS systems, the screen may be some sort of tablet computer. In other cases, the screen is part of a unit that is encased in plastic or soft metal and includes a stand that tilts the screen at an angle for comfort.

Cash Drawer
The cash drawer, typically found underneath the register, is the piece of equipment that opens and closes when a sale is rung up and a customer pays with cash. When the drawer opens, you can place the customer’s cash in the drawer and take out any change due. The cash drawer will often connect to the register in some way so that it knows when to open and close.

Credit Card Reader
This is the piece of equipment that you will use when a customer uses a credit or debit card to pay. These days, the card readers can accommodate a swipe, an EMV chip or even a touch-less card transaction. With more and more customers starting to carry touch-less payment technologies (including the ones on smart phones), you’ll want to make sure that your card reader is able to accept all of these different payment methods.

Receipt Printer
If you’re operating the point of sale on a regular basis, you’ll be asking a lot of customers this question: ‘Would you like a receipt with that?’ When they say yes, the receipt printer is the piece of equipment that will print out said receipt. Most point of sale systems will come with one but receipts are often sent via email these days in addition to being printed. Why? Capturing the customer’s email at the point of sale is an excellent way to stay in touch and continue marketing to them.

(Optional) Bar Code Scanner
With this piece of equipment, you can scan items and have the sale ring up automatically. The bar code scanner is a handy piece of equipment that speeds up the check out process so you’ll want to make sure you have one, especially if you run a retail shop or a grocery business.

(Optional) Scale
A scale as part of a point of sale checkout only makes sense if your business sells items by weight, such as frozen yogurt or salad from a salad bar or dry goods. If that’s the case, then a scale can be included with your point of sale system to make it easy to have the calculations take place automatically and tell the customer how much they owe right there.

(Optional) Kiosks
Kiosks are becoming more and more commonplace with customers using them to order and pay for goods and services. If it makes sense for your business, it might be a good idea to include a kiosk that’s hooked into your overall system so that customers can use technology to facilitate a transaction instead of needing to be waited on by a cashier.

One thing to keep in mind: the hardware is only half of the equation. It requires software to process payments, track inventory and send orders to the kitchen (if you have one).

The software often comes integrated with the point of sale system hardware. Look for it to have the following features:

Want to learn more about your options for point of sale systems? Contact us today for a demonstration.